What makes a great Italian restaurant? For some it may be the antipasti, while for others it’s the quality of the wines and pastas that’s the sure-fire test. Holding up one dish is dangerous. Octopus? Lasagna? Cacio e pepe? Which one dish should be the barometer of a great Italian restaurant?
The steps we took to compile our most-recent ranking were as thorough and comprehensive as possible: we looked at restaurants that made it to our 101 Best Restaurants in America; we also recruited an illustrious panel of judges that included some of the country’s top food writers, critics, and bloggers to submit their suggestions, which we supplemented with our own choices, including previous years’ rankings as well as lauded newcomers. This list of hundreds of restaurants was then built into a survey that was sent out to more than 100 panelists, who voted for their favorites. The final ranking included a significant number of Italian restaurants, and to create this list we supplemented the Italian restaurants that made it into our final list of 101 with those that came in as runners-up and those that were featured on this year's list of the country's 50 best casual restaurants. Turns out there are many Italian restaurants worthy of renown in America, and two reside in Philadelphia.
In the little jewel box of a restaurant that is Vetri, which celebrated 16 years this past fall, chef Marc Vetri offers diners sophisticated, hand-crafted Italian specialties off of a tasting menu (think pappardelle with cockles and tardive, almond tortellini with white truffle, roasted capretto with stone milled polenta, and pistachio flan for dessert), served with precision and grace, as well as a wine cellar of over 2,500 wine bottles to choose from. Mario Batali has hailed the place as "possibly the best Italian restaurant on the East Coast." In September of 2013, the Vetri family opened up Pizzeria Vetri nearby and Philadelphia Inquirer restaurant critic Craig LaBan called their pizza “the morsel of the year.”
Vetri’s traditional specialties are so delicious, the restaurant snagged the very respectable #8 spot on our roundup, beating out Osteria, who came in at #25. This means that – according to our experts – Vetri is the best Italian restaurant in Philadelphia.