1216 Spruce St., 215/985-2962,
HOURS: Mon.–Thurs. 5–10:30 p.m.,
Fri.–Sat. 5–11 p.m., Sun. 5–10 p.m.
COST: Most entrées between $10–20
Mercato, a tiny cash-only BYOB is always noisy and crowded—partly due to the close tables and its immense popularity, and also perhaps because most guests here like to drink (it’s not abnormal to see a 1:1 ratio of guests to wine bottles at a table).
Chef Evan Turney (also of Valanni across the street) serves excellent modern Italian dishes at reasonable prices from his open kitchen. Start with a plate of bread and artisan cheese paired with an olive oil tasting. Then choose from an array of pasta, fish, and meat dishes that combine traditional and updated flavors and preparations.
A molten chocolate lava cake and a mascarpone cheesecake are just two of the excellent desserts. Reservations are not taken, so you’ll often have to wait for a table—especially on weekends—but it’s well worth it.
© Karrie Gavin from Moon Philadelphia, 1st Edition