Philly Pretzel Factory churns out more than 100 million fresh, hand-twisted soft pretzels per year. However, the business wasn't always so big. Initially, it was a one-man operation, and the man in question--current president Dan DiZio--was just 11 years old.
As a kid, Dan loved soft pretzels so much that he sold them on a street corner using an authentic Philly recipe so popular that he often sold out before noon. Nowadays, he manages his inventory better, and the proof is in the pudding: since the bakery's 1998 launch, it has expanded to more than 100 locations. Each outpost serves Dan's signature golden-brown pretzels in assorted flavors, alongside pretzel sausages and bite-sized pretzels, ideal for people with very tiny mouths.
The chefs at Muscle Maker Grill put a healthy spin on flavorful dishes inspired by Italian, Asian, American, and Southwestern cuisines. The chain was founded in 1995 by Rod Silva, a fitness enthusiast who grew weary of fast-food eateries that bogged customers down with unhealthy morsels and toys sculpted from butter. What began as a smoothie stand has expanded into a successful franchise that slings pastas, burgers, salads, and Tex-Mex–style wraps, and proudly displays the calorie content and relationship status of each dish on the menu.
Villari's Lakeside sits on the shores of Sun Valley Lake, near rustling willows and a quaint gazebo—but its menu seems to think its on the Sicilian coast. Crabmeat fills martini glasses and stuffs jumbo shrimp. Lobster tails wear coats of lemon and butter. Even the Filet Sinatra's 10-ounce filet mignon comes topped with shrimp. The creator of these feasts, Jose Zhinin, brings the Mediterranean to the US, but doesn't stop there. His yearly rotating entrees trek throughout mainland Italy as well, touching everything from chicken parmigiana to build-your-own pasta plates, mixing the traditional with the modern.
Likewise, the restaurant itself combines Old-World elegance with contemporary style. Like the halls of the coolest medieval kings, the two-tiered dining room easily hosts both sumptuous banquets and DJ-driven dance parties. But parties find their home most often at the outdoor tiki bar, whose thatched roof and glowing lanterns cast the lake in a tropical light.
Home to a vast lineup of dairy-based frozen treats, Bruster's makes its ice creams, yogurts, and waffle cones fresh every day in-store. The menu boasts everything from a turtle sundae ($4.80) to a regular cone ($2.65+) or homemade waffle cone ($3.87) filled with one of the multitudinous ice-cream flavors, such as Monkey Madness––with banana ice cream, buckeyes, and marshmallows––or Chocolate Lover's Trash––chocolate ice cream filled with chocolate chunks, chocolate-covered peanuts, chocolate butter toffee, chocolate krispies, and receipts from visits to the biannual cocoa consortium. Bruster's also offers no-sugar-added options and fat-free ice creams, as well as low-fat yogurts.
You can't remain the reigning champ of cheesesteak in Gloucester County without having a superior sandwich. And that's just what Little Beef's has, with voters continually lauding their gooey, melty cheesesteak as the best in the county for the last five years. But outside the shop's most well-known sandwich, there's a full menu of hoagies that are worthy of your lunch break. The staff create Philly classics such as the hot sausage and peppers, the meatball parmesan, and the St. Anthony loaded with proscuitto di Parma, provolone, long hots, and sliced tomatoes. These sandwiches pair well with the make-your-own pasta option, and can be swapped out for the lighter wraps or salads that burst with fresh flavors.