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Meatballs Roll Into Philly In A Big Way
Philadelphia Restaurants Are Having A Ball With This Comfort Food Trend
On top of spaghetti, covered with cheese, tucked into a roll, grilled on a skewer—meatballs in all forms abound in Philadelphia, and not just in South Philly, the city’s largely Italian enclave. There are traditional Italian versions with gravy (Villa di Roma, for starters), Vietnamese pork balls in noodle soup (Vietnam), vegetarian tofu-ball sandwiches (Magic Carpet) and luxuriant rounds of short-rib hand-rolled by celebrity chefs (Barbuzzo). Here’s a look at some of the most memorable meatballs in the region:
- Repeat winner of the Golden Meatball Challenge between South Philadelphia and South Jersey and Food Network Meatball Wars winner, Italian Market staple Villa di Roma boasts a winning 50-year-old formula with its pan-seared all-beef beauties. 936 S. 9th Street, (215) 592-1295, villadiroma.com
- The gigantic home-style orbs at Talluto’s are available to-go at all of the Italian specialty store’s locations, alongside pastas of every variety. 944 S. 9th Street, (215) 627-4967; 530 Foundry Road, Norristown, (610) 630-6788; 20 E. Sellers Avenue, Ridley Park, (610) 534-0669, tallutos.com
- Hand-rolled ground beef and a special blend of seasonings distinguish the two-inch meatballs at Carlino’s Market. Customers can purchase them by the quart in marinara sauce or with a number of different pasta plates. 2616 E. County Line Road, Ardmore, (610) 649-4046; 128 West Chester Road, West Chester, (610) 696-3788, carlinosmarket.com
- The contemporary cuisine at upscale pizza parlor In Riva goes homestyle when it comes to meatballs. Chef Arthur Cavaliere’s richly flavored recipe inspires nostalgia even in customers without an Italian mother. 4116 Ridge Avenue, (215) 438-4848, in-riva.com
- Mama Mary’s namesake spaghetti platter at Conshohocken’s Stella Blu serves as the backdrop for luscious meatballs made with veal, pork and beef, simmered in homemade marinara. 101 Ford Street, West Conshohocken. (610) 825-7060, stellablurestaurant.com
- Chef Marcie Turney wasn’t content to simply serve regular meatballs at her Mediterranean wine bar Barbuzzo. Nope, these short rib and pork shoulder babies are stuffed with melting caciocavallo cheese. 110 S. 13th Street, (215) 546-9300, barbuzzo.com
- The B+V+P stands for beef, pork and veal at neo-red sauce joint Little Nonna’s. The appetizer portion of meatballs arrives at the table stuffed with fontina cheese and served over soft polenta. In entrée form, they’re served with spaghetti and braised pork marinara. 1234 Locust Street, (215) 546-2100, littlenonnas.com
- Count on Chef Eli Kulp to put his own stamp on the mighty meatball. At High Street on Market, he dresses up duck meatballs with spicy marinara sauce, liver and onions, young Swiss cheese and charred and pickled long hot peppers. 308 Market Street, (215) 625-0988, highstreetonmarket.com
- Pub & Kitchen’s rendition befits the gastropub’s chic take on English cuisine. Rustic and hearty rabbit meatballs adorn a bed of polenta with green olives and pine nuts. 1946 Lombard Street, (215) 545-0350, thepubandkitchen.com
- The little albondigas or lamb meatballs at Jose Garces’ Spanish eatery Amada are served with shaved manchego cheese and an essential part of the order at this tapas hotspot. 217-219 Chestnut Street, (215) 625-2450, amadarestaurant.com
- At Blue Bell’s refined Italian restaurant Radice, they’re called bracciolini—and the pork and pecorino ovals are long simmered in a sage-infused tomato sauce for maximum tastiness. 722 Dekalb Pike, Blue Bell, (610) 272-5700, radicerestaurant.com
On A Roll:
- With rolls that are the envy of every hoagie shop for miles, Sarcone’s succeeds in making a memorable meatball parm sandwich, and the generous dollops of marinara and mozzarella are just a bonus. 734 S. 9th Street, (215) 922-1717, sarconesdeli.com
- Tucked inside Smokey Joe’s, Enjay’s Pizza packs its meatballs onto house-baked rolls with marinara sauce, fried onions, pancetta and parmesan cheese. 210 S. 40th Street, (215) 222-0770, enjayspizza.com
- The restaurant motto is “Once you try them, you’ll always buy them.” A South Philly stalwart, George’s Sandwich Shop passes its saucy sandwiches through an order window. 900 S. 9th Street, (215) 592-8363
- Just like grandma or grandpa makes: The takeaway chicken meatballs and tomato gravy at Dad’s Stuffings in South Philadelphia are the stuff(ing) of legend. 1615 W. Ritner Street, (215) 334-1934, dadstuffings.com
- Doused in marinara and cheese, the tofu balls (also known as Magic Meatballs) at the Magic Carpet food truck in University City have been feeding happy vegetarians—and everyone else—for decades. 34th & Walnut Streets; 36th & Spruce Streets, (215) 334-0948, magiccarpetfoods.com
- With a name like Marabella Meatball Company, the concept is fairly obvious—less so are the dozens of options available at this meatball mecca, where beef, pork, chicken and veggie varieties are among the regular offerings. There are sandwiches and platters, plus mix and match sauces, toppings and pastas. 1211 Walnut Street, (215) 238-1833, marabellameatballco.com
- Built on a firmly Italian foundation, Me N Mo Meatballs and More, trades in traditional sauces and pastas to accompany the main event: meatballs made from spicy pork, lamb, chicken and vegetables. Specials, meanwhile, travel into cross-cultural territory like Hong Kong and Buffalo, New York. 214 South Street, (267) 928-3262, menmophilly.com
- The bucatini and “meatballs” at Midtown Village vegan bar Charlie was a sinner. contain no animal byproducts. Dressed in spicy fra diavolo sauce, they’re just as delicious as the traditional kind. 131 S. 13th Street, (267) 758-5372, charliewasasinner.com
- Everyone loves meatballs, but Fairmount fixture London Grill devotes an entire night to them. On Meatball Mondays, a plate of three costs $6, and the changing lineup includes such variations as Moroccan tuna balls with tomato jam, duck meatballs with cherry mostarda and foie gras meatballs. 2301 Fairmount Avenue, (215) 978-4545, londongrill.com
A World Of Meatballs:
- Whether twirled into vermicelli noodles topped with fish sauce or grilled and wrapped in rice paper, the tiny pork meatballs at Vietnam in Chinatown are a fragrant and satisfying treat. They’re are also available at its University City outpost, Vietnam Cafe. Vietnam, 221 N. 11th Street, (215) 592-1163; Cafe, 816 S. 47th Street, (215) 729-0260, eatatvietnam.com
- One of the best values in town, the IKEA Swedish meatball plate (15 meatballs served with mashed potatoes, cream sauce and lingonberries for $3.99) is also reputed to be the best version of the famed dish in America. 2206 S. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 551-4532; 400 Alan Wood Road, Conshohocken, (610) 834-1520, ikea-usa.com
- The meatball banh mi at the seasonal Kung Fu Hoagies truck melds Vietnamese flavors with vegan flair. Layered on top of those tofu meatballs: vegan ham, vegan mayo, fried onions, pickled vegetables and jalapeño. (267) 344-6259, twitter.com/kungfuhoagies
- The braised meatballs at Foo Truck derive their “Tiger’s Head” flavor from garlic, ginger, soy sauce and Asian spices. They’re served either in a “foowich” or over a bed of jasmine rice with Napa cabbage. 35th & Market Streets (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday); 16th Street & John F. Kennedy Boulevard (Tuesday), footruck.com
- Both the meatballs and fish balls at Chinatown’s Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House can be ordered in a number of ways—in hand-drawn or shaved noodle soup; over rice; or in the house special soup. 1022 Race Street, (215) 923-1550, nanzhounoodlehouse.com
- The luscious brick hearth pies at Sovana Bistro can be embellished with Fran’s Meatballs, a tender beef-pork-veal combo, then draped with Italian hots and shaved pecorino. 696 Unionville Road, Kennett Square, (610) 444-5600, sovanabistro.com
- Ricotta-stuffed meatballs mingle happily with Claudio’s mozzarella on the Polpettino pizza at wine bar Zavino, making it one of the most popular choices for diners. 112 S. 13th Street, (215) 732-2400; 3200 Chestnut Street, (215) 823-6897, zavino.com
- It’s ideal to be near Christopher’s in Wayne when a meatball craving hits: The pizza here gets dressed up with spicy broccoli rabe, herbed ricotta, sharp provolone and red sauce. 108 N. Wayne Avenue, Wayne, (610) 687-6558, christophersaneighborhoodplace.com
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On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com, visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.
- Donna Schorr, (215) 599-0782
Experience A Taste Of That Famous Philly Flavor
Philadelphia’s signature flavor is a dynamic mix of traditional recipes, new culinary inventions, well-known treats and obscure dishes, and these specialties can be found everywhere—from corner stores to the fanciest haute restaurants. Among the region’s best-known foods are national favorites like Italian water ice, Pennsylvania Dutch pretzels and the ever-popular cheesesteak. More localized favorites include pork roll and scrapple, which are available here in the region and through services such as Taste of Philadelphia, one of many companies that ship Philly goodies across the United States.
Here are some of the sandwiches, snacks, meats and more that have left a...
A Guide To Group Dining In Philadelphia
Dinner just tastes better when everyone’s together, and this is especially true in Philadelphia, where the concept of Brotherly Love extends across the table. For breaking bread with family, friends or both, a restaurant that’s both physically and conceptually designed to handle a big, hungry bunch is an invaluable find. Here’s a diverse selection of Philadelphia’s top group dining options, including casual spots to pop in with a party of 10 (and more upscale destinations where foodies book big tables in advance), bistros with prix-fixe menus and/or BYOB (bring-your-own-bottle) policies that take the worry out of splitting the bill, to...
Philly's Signature Sandwiches: Cheesesteaks, Hoagies & Roast Pork
Here in Philly, cheesesteaks, hoagies and roast pork sandwiches are civic icons, tourist draws, cultural obsessions—and, most importantly, favorite meals. A visit to the city would be incomplete without diving into the no-flatware-required specialties. Here’s the lowdown on the holy trio of Philadelphia sandwiches:
What Is It?
A cheesesteak consists of a long, crusty roll filled with thinly sliced, just-sautéed ribeye beef and melted cheese. The art of cheesesteak preparation lies in the balance of flavors, textures and what is often referred to as the “drip” factor. In the past, the “cheese” of choice has been Cheez Whiz
25 Things To Know About Philly's Food Scene
Philadelphia food is so much more than the cheesesteak and the soft pretzel, or even scrapple, or roast pork sandwiches. It’s also amazing vegan fare, quirky BYOB (bring-your-own-bottle) restaurants, world-class craft local beer, emerging distillery scene, or chef-driven concepts and passion projects. Philly’s food scene is about neighborhoods that grow with their restaurants. And competing chefs who work together. It’s about sourcing ingredients from the region’s farms and giving casual dining its due. It’s about embracing delicious diversity.
Here is a primer of 25 lesser-known components of Philly’s lush and luscious food scene:
- Richly Rewarding Food Shed:
The BYOB Restaurant: A Philly Phenomenon
Despite decades of popularity and expansion, one quintessential Philadelphia dining phenomenon continues to fly deliciously under the radar. It’s the BYOB, the bring-your-own-bottle restaurant—BYO, for short. Typically independently owned and operated, Philly’s BYOBs number into the three hundreds. Diners find them on dozens of corners in Center City, along avenues of renewed urban neighborhoods and tucked down rural roads. It’s a curious trend with an interesting backstory—and an even more interesting present.
Here’s a short explanation of how the BYOB scene came to be—and advice on navigating the landscape.
What Is A BYOB?:
A BYOB restaurant allows patrons to
A Wave Of Authentic Taquerias & Roving Trucks Make Philly A Bona Fide Taco Town
Little by little, Philly’s turned into a bona fide taco town. Between the mom-and-pop taquerias of South Philly, tried-and-true tequila bars, a roving pack of lunch trucks and the newest crop of gringo-owned joints, there’s truly a taco for everyone and their hermano. Here’s where the hungry masses can get their tacos on:
- Fishtown’s divey Loco Pez found its inspiration in L.A.’s fusion-y taco trucks, and the result is a mix-and-match selection of fun—and sometimes unexpected—flavors. Classic preparations like al pastor and cochinita pibil share menu space with unconventional choices, like vegan-friendly seitan and spinach, and soy
Poke Makes A Splash In The Home Of The Soft Pretzel
The Hawaiian poké craze has hit Philly in a major way, and no wonder: Raw fish over rice with vegetables, sauce and assorted fun toppings makes for a healthy and satisfying meal. While Japanese sashimi and Italian crudo continue to be widely popular, restaurant goers are also enthusiastically embracing fresh seafood in many new (to the region) ways, whether it’s a traditional dish of Philippino kinilaw or a completely unorthodox Mexican-Japanese mashup tuna taco.
Here are just some of the delicious ways to experience uncooked fish in Philly:
- Bubble tea meets sushi at the aptly named Bubblefish. The
When It Comes To Vegan Dining, The Home Of The Cheesesteak Proudly Vedges Out
It’s a curious thing that a city so renowned for its cheesesteaks and roast pork sandwiches could also foster one of the nation’s most robust vegan food scenes. Upscale diners can find delight in the shared plates at Vedge or the coursed and the home-style elegance of Miss Rachel’s Pantry, while those seeking a quick bite can swing by Blackbird Pizza for fare that is more traditionally Philadelphian. Factor in some coffee shops, bars and even a diner, and vegan eaters will see—and taste—that the city’s offerings have something for every palate, day or night.
Here’s a look at some
Cheesesteak 101: A Primer On The Who, What, Where And Whiz Of South Philly Cheesesteaks
Here in Philly, cheesesteaks are a civic icon, a tourist draw and a cultural obsession. Often imitated around the world, the cheesesteak is rarely duplicated successfully outside of Philadelphia. So what is an authentic cheesesteak and where did it come from? Here’s the lowdown on this region’s favorite sandwich.
What Is A Cheesesteak?:
A cheesesteak is a long, crusty roll filled with thinly sliced sautéed rib-eye beef and melted cheese. Generally, the cheese of choice is Cheez Whiz®, but American and provolone are common substitutions. The art of cheesesteak preparation lies in the balance of flavors, textures
Fall For Philly Restaurants
It’s official: Two of Philly’s recent openings—Wm. Mulherin’s Sons and South Philly Barbacoa—made Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurants list, marking 2016 as a banner year for the local restaurant scene. There’s more yet to come this fall, with a thrilling lineup of globally inspired newcomers, including Philly’s first poke shop (Poke Bowl), a boldly imaginative taqueria (Mission), Filipino fine dining (Perla) and Latin American street food (La Mula Terca). Here are just a few highlights for the season’s must-try list:
Center City East:
- Taking up residence in a cozy