760 S. 9th St., 215/627-6011,
HOURS: Sun.–Thurs. noon–9:45 p.m.,
Fri.–Sat. noon–10:45 p.m.
COST: Most entrées between $10–20
Ralph’s opened in 1900, laying claim as the country’s oldest family-owned Italian restaurant in the United States. While the food might no longer be the best Southern Italian fare in Philadelphia, it is still reliably very good, and more than that, this traditional two-floor eatery has unbeatable, authentic old-school ambience.
It transports you to a more Mafioso-inspired time, which, minus the killing and espionage, makes for a fun, classy atmosphere and offers glimpse into a piece of history.
Your first bite of the stellar eggplant parm or spaghetti and meatballs make the debate over whether you’re eating sauce or gravy immediately irrelevant; it’s delicious either way. And don’t forget to order mussels in garlicky red sauce and sop it all up with your bread.
The service can be patchy and credit cards are not accepted, so bring your easy-going attitude and some cash.
© Karrie Gavin from Moon Philadelphia, 1st Edition