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A Gut-Busting Walk Through South Philly

The Italian Market in South Philadelphia is a local treasure. Generations of Italian families and newcomers shop at this bustling indoor–outdoor market for homemade pasta, produce, cheeses, and olive oil. Wander through the heart of the Italian Market and sample its mouthwatering delicacies.

Italian Market

The Italian Market is a stretch of 9th Street in an area settled by Italian immigrants in the late 1800s. Today, the market is a scene of controlled chaos, with vendors peddling fish, produce, meat, cheese, pasta, pastries, spices, espresso, and more. More recently, Mexican, Vietnamese, and other South Asian flavors have joined the party.

Begin your walk at Fante's Kitchen Wares Shop, a 103-year-old kitchenware store. Fante's is a cook's paradise, with everything from pastry bags to pasta makers stacked floor to ceiling. Turn left out of Fante's and continue north on 9th Street to DiBruno Bros. This is the original DiBruno Bros., dating back to 1939; the enormous Rittenhouse location opened in 2004. The shop is long, narrow, and packed with cheeses, prosciutto, and olives. The staff is all-knowing and very generous with samples. Continue walking north on 9th Street, past the mural of Frank Rizzo, the legendary former police commissioner and mayor, at 9th and Montrose. Stop in at Anthony's Italian Coffee House for some killer espresso. At Christian Street, turn left and walk two blocks west to Isgro Pastries for what some claim are the best cannolis in the city. (Anthony's and Termini Bros. are also good.) Backtrack down Christian Street to the corner of 7th, where the unassuming John's Water Ice is open seasonally. This is a purist's Italian ice—there are only four flavors (chocolate, cherry, pineapple, and lemon) and each tastes exactly as it should.

Bella Vista

Turn left to walk north on 7th Street, through the residential neighborhood of Bella Vista. This is where Italian South Philly meets funky South Street, and it harbors some elements of each. Among the row homes and BYOBs are vintage stores and coffee shops. Take a left on Bainbridge and walk two blocks to Chapterhouse Café, a great place to nurse a coffee and people-watch. Walk a few blocks east on Bainbridge to the shop and studio of Bario-Neal, a duo of local designers who make beautiful, socially conscious jewelry. Antiquarian's Delight, in a converted synagogue on 6th between South and Bainbridge streets, is a co-op filled with vendors selling clothes, accessories, housewares, and furniture.

From 6th and Bainbridge, walk east toward 4th Street. Famous 4th Street Delicatessen is the place to order a brisket sandwich that'll make your plate groan. Famous is really famous, though, for its amazing chocolate-chip cookies. And Southwark across the street has a reputation for serving the city's best cocktails.

Not that you're likely to have room for it, but you're only two blocks away from the third-most-famous cheesesteak in Philly, Jim's Steaks. Maybe you can take one to go?

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