Springfield Pasta Company traces its roots back as far as 100 years to the sunny hills of Abruzzi, Italy, where Domenico Napoletano learned the art of grain-trading and pasta-making from his parents. The Napoletano family carried their noodle-crafting tradition with them across the Atlantic—first to Buenos Aires in the 1950s, and finally to Springfield, Pennsylvania, in 1965, where Domenico and his sons, Mario, Corrado, and Claudio, set up shop on Saxer Avenue. Dedicated workers oversee the production of every fresh, frozen, and dried noodle and savory sauce, ensuring that customers load their dinner tables with Italian feasts made by a real, local human—not a distant corporate entity or a cyborg clone of Chef Boyardee.
Perusing Ristorante La Buca’s menu beforehand doesn’t necessarily give diners the full idea of what to expect. To showcase the day's fresh catches, servers roll a seafood cart through the dining room, giving diners the chance to pick whatever strikes them in the moment. And diners can rest easy knowing that whatever they choose from the seafood cart will be in capable hands. “Chef-owner Giuseppe Giuliani is a minimalist with seafood,” says Philadelphia magazine, “only lemon and olive oil on the whole fish, perhaps adding a bonus of lump crabmeat to a pan-crisped fillet.” Fish, lobsters, and scallops may receive the most attention in the dining room, but the menu also includes a number of familiar Italian dishes from terra firma, such as veal marsala and Tuscan-style chicken breast. Within Ristorante La Buca’s intimately lit dining area , a mural dominates one entire corner of the room. The ocean-side scene mimics the look of a Renaissance-era fresco, depicting small groups of revelers hefting goblets and jugs mid-conversation. This bright and dynamic scene lends a lively spirit to the rest of the dining room’s rustic assortment of brick archways, dark wooden trim, and cellar-like wine racks.
At Fratelli's Italian Bistro, housemade marinara coats parmesan-crusted veal cutlets and garnishes piles of beer-battered mozzarella. This Italian eatery, which Philly.com named a “must-try" restaurant, makes more than just sauce from scratch. Freshly baked bread supplies the foundation for bruschetta, and handcrafted meatballs line the buns of lunchtime sub sandwiches and the pockets of hamburglars looking to branch out. Cooks also prepare lobster- and ricotta-stuffed ravioli soused in lobster cognac cream, as well as flatbreads crowned with wild mushrooms and sweet fennel sausages. Bartenders, meanwhile, complement these meals with domestic and imported wines by the glass or bottle.
Jeff Michaud, winner of the prestigious James Beard Award, helms the kitchen at Osteria. This explains why gourmet toppings are the status quo. Philadelphia Magazine raves about the savory double-crust pies and a dessert version topped with Nutella and powdered sugar.
Who better to buck pizza-industry conventions than a couple of punk rockers? Owners/scenesters Ryan Moylan and Mark Mebus are making vegan, kosher pies from scratch, using toppings such as Daiya cheese, avocado, exotic mushrooms, and house-made seitan, the latter of which is also used for BBQ and hot wings.
Walnut Street Supper Club doesn’t bill itself as a gay bar, but it’s nonetheless a popular spot for the GLBTQ set. The tufted-leather banquettes and marble-topped bar lend it an air of sophistication, which is only enhanced by live singers crooning from the Great American Songbook.