At La Famiglia, old-world cuisine is paired with old-world service to create a true Italian dining experience. For starters, the focus is on seafood � try the garlic-saut�ed shrimp or seafood in red sauce. Pasta dishes include tagliolini with black and red caviar, or capers and black olives. With several traditional veal entrees, as well as steaks and chicken, there's sure to be something for every taste. The wine list has incredible depth, and you can also tour the incredible basement wine cellar if you so desire. Waitstaff are attentive to old-world traditions of pulling your chair out for you and placing your napkin on your lap. Reservations are recommended.
Recommended for Italian because: Fine dining, Italian style is this restaurant's claim to fame, and they do it well with service, food and specialties to wow you.
Sharon's expert tip: This romantic Penn's-Landing-area restaurant features a varied and carefully selected wine list to perfectly compliment your choice of entree and dessert.
Ralph's is a South Philly institution and has been in business since 1900. Four Generations of the same family have owned and operated the restaurant since It's it opened 115 years ago. It is the oldest family-run restaurant in the country, they have a long history of serving up affordable and fabulous Italian favorites that they'd be happy to share with you. Those in the know swear by their mussels, calamari marinara and veal and chicken dishes. Their tiramisu is also terrific so it's advised that you save room for dessert. Ralph's does not accept credit cards, but they do have an ATM machine. Reservations are always recommended.
Recommended for Italian because: As the oldest family-run restaurant in the country, you owe it to yourself to check out what this family has learned to do so well.
Sharon's expert tip: Sample their meatballs, as some say they're the best in the world: tender on the inside with a slight crunch on the outside. It's a delicious and time-tested combination that works.
An open kitchen and a garden add to the homey Italian vibe of this Washington Square West eatery. Chef Marcie Turney churns out pasta dishes and traditional Italian entrees that satisfy and comfort. Treat yourself to a dish such as their swordfish piccata, chicken liver bolognese, shrimp scampi tonnarelli or rigatoni all vodka. Coupled with a delicious salad, a beverage of your choice and followed up by a sweet little (or big) something for dessert and you've got a meal you'll be telling people about after you leave. Comfortable and filling with a casual air of refined dining, Little Nonna's is Italian done right.
Recommended for Italian because: The newest restaurant for Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran, this place brings a warm and homey atmosphere to Italian dining.
Sharon's expert tip: Enjoy lovely outdoor seating in warmer weather and be sure t0 try a cannoli to finish off your meal.
Visitors and regulars agree that this restaurant delivers when it comes to delicious Italian food. Located in East Falls, it has a distinct neighborhood feel, while still being able to compete with Center City eateries quite well. Reserve your seat and enjoy sampling such dishes as tagliatelle bolognese, spaghetti with clams, Franco's saltimbocca, chicken battuta or eggplant rollatini. Follow that up with a great dessert treat and the beverage of your choice and you have a meal with remembering. It's cozy and quite romantic, too, so don't hesitate to take your sweetie for lunch or dinner or to celebrate a special occasion.
Recommended for Italian because: When folks tout this as an authentic Italian restaurant with food you won't forget, you listen, and you go there.
Sharon's expert tip: This highly-rated eatery is a BYOB, so remember to bring along your favorite bottle.
Marc Vetri, the talent behind Center City's award-winning Vetri Ristorante, brings his world-renowned cooking to the city's emerging restaurant row on North Broad Street. Osteria carries a more casual, bistro vibe than its fine-dining older sister and presents gourmet pizzas, antipasti and fresh seafood and meat entrees at a mid-range price-point, along with a full bar. Vetri proteges Jeff Michaud and Jeff Benjamin, who run the restaurant, have garnered their own share of awards, with Michaud earning recognition from the James Beard Foundation as the Best Mid-Atlantic Chef in 2010 and the restaurant receiving a James Beard nomination for Best New Restaurant in 2008. Flavors range from pizza topped with Trentino grilled figs, gorgonzola dolce and speck, to primi courses like duck casoncelli with quince, brown butter and sage and secondi courses for two such as house aged rib-eye "Fiorentina" with tricolored cauliflower cooked in beef fat.
Recommended for Italian because: Very few things in the restaurant business does Mark Vetri do wrong, and this is no exception.
Sharon's expert tip: For a truly special experience, book a reservation for a night when Vetri is hosting a guest chef or a post-dinner musical performance.
Gracing the East Passyunk neighborhood is Le Virtu, a restaurant inspired by all of the best qualities of Abruzzo, Italy. From farm-fresh ingredients obtained from nearby Lancaster, New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the way they serve their dishes to their great culinary traditions, it is a true dining experience. Dishes range "from sea to mountain" and combine traditional favorites with dishes that present ingredients in entirely new and exciting ways. For Italian cuisine done with a fresh take, along with the option to enjoy that delicious meal outside in the fresh, warm-weather, don't miss the opportunity to dine at Le Virtu.
Recommended for Italian because: Some people love to keep it simple when it comes to their pizza, and this place simply does it best.
Sharon's expert tip: If an entire meal isn't in the cards, stop in for an appetizer or a glass of one of their wine varieties.
Handcrafted Italian specialties are where A Mano shines. This quintessential cash-only BYOB in the pretty Fairmount section of the city varies their menu dependent on the season with special attention to balancing flavors in the most harmonious and delicious manner possible. Stop by for dishes like braised pork shank with taleggio polenta and pilacca pickled fennel, or barramundi with eggplant, a roasted pepper caper vinaigrette and pine nuts. Don't deny yourself a sampling of their dessert menu, which they spend as much time on as other courses. Coupled with your favorite vino, the hand made Italian dishes here never tasted so good. Reservations are accepted, but not necessary.
Recommended for Italian because: Dining in an elegant garden setting with fine Italian entrees to satisfy your cravings makes this place top-notch in anyone's book.
Sharon's expert tip: Consider trying the 4-course family-style servings for larger groups that love to share.
Located in the Penn's View Hotel, this restaurant has always been well known not only for its traditional Italian cuisine but for its record-setting number of wines by the glass (120 at last count), which you can sample in any number of themed flights. With a recent change in their chef as well as a large renovation and changes to the menu, this venue shines like never before. Tired old pasta dishes are not their specialty, rather they pride themselves on locally-sourced ingredients and innovative dishes to make dining here a step above the ordinary Italian experience. Visit their upscale bar for drinks should you be in the area before your reservation.
Recommended for Italian because: A change in chefs, a big renovation and other changes make this a wonderful new dining destination.
Sharon's expert tip: Be sure to try their extensive array of wine flights which are just as attractive as they are delicious.
With only 35 seats, this nationally acclaimed restaurant is booked one to two months in advance, so call way ahead for reservations. Chef-owner Marc Vetri prepares elegant "new" Italian cuisine, served only as a prix fixe menu for $135. Seasonally rotating entrees include unusual meats like chestnut fettucini with boar and cocoa, baby goat with freshly stone-milled polenta and Texas antelope with squash and Amarone sauce. The signature dessert, chocolate polenta soufflé, sounds wacky, but it's quite good. Business dress appropriate. Vetri closes for one week in January and two weeks in August, so call ahead if you're thinking about dining here during those months.
Recommended for Italian because: When it comes to Italian, this place takes it up a notch with interesting add-ons and combinations, making your meal a true culinary experience.
Sharon's expert tip: If you're not able to score a reservation for Vetri, visit Marc Vetri's more accessible restaurants, Osteria, Amis, and beginning in 2012, Alla Spina.