Archive for the ‘Bella Vista’ Category

A Buyer’s Market? Not In Center City

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014
Center City Market Action Report

Homes in many Philadelphia neighborhoods are selling faster and fetching better prices than they were one year ago.

Industry buzz is that the spring selling season is off to a slow start in Philadelphia. Yet local news reports say that agents nonetheless are optimistic about how the season will turn out.

So are we. If you are thinking of selling your Greater Center City home, now is a good time to act.

While a recent Zillow report ranks Philadelphia as one of the top 10 buyer’s markets in the country, many city neighborhoods are performing far stronger for sellers. According to Philly Living’s latest Market Action Report, median sale prices in Northern Liberties in February, for instance, rose 78 percent from the same month last year, and average days on market fell 44 percent. Other local markets, including Queen Village, Bella Vista, Hawthorne and Passyunk Square, are also performing strongly.

Center City District data show that the Greater Center City area – the territory between the rivers from Girard Avenue on the north to Tasker Street on the south – continues to experience a surge in population and that housing production has boomed since 2012. While many of these new arrivals are Millennials starting out in their careers, many are looking for homes to buy as well, stimulating construction surges in neighborhoods like Northern Liberties, Graduate Hospital and Point Breeze.

What does this mean for the home owner looking to sell? It means opportunity. With the help of an experienced Realtor (we happen to know one), a Center City homeowner can expect a positive outcome: a better sale price and a quicker sale.



Open House: Bella Vista’s Real Estate Opportunities

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

As Philadelphia real estate has continued to expand exponentially, construction sites are now a familiar sight in many Philadelphian neighborhoods. With so many contemporary changes, Bella Vista’s real estate is a refreshing property to walk through. Not only has the neighborhood been able to maintain a stronghold on its history, but it has also directly incorporated its strong ethnic past into its community as well. The neighborhood is drenched with family-oriented surroundings, making for a safe environment for Bella Vista’s residents. Open House Bella Vista Real Estate by Philly Living

Bella Vista’s real estate remains a popular option for Philadelphians thanks to the geographical sweet spot near the city limits. The close location affords Bella Vista’s residents easy ventures into the city while keeping the neighborhood mainly residential. For residents seeking a diversified culture, the oldest neighborhood is known to have a large melting pot of residents. The diverse population has a strong Italian culture at its heart with many other ethnicities calling Bella Vista home as well.

A Beautiful View Right Outside your Window

With Bella Vista translating literally to “beautiful sight,” the Philly neighborhood is free from a lot of the hustle and bustle of city life. Its tree-lined streets and small family-owned businesses make Bella Vista’s close-knit community one of a kind. Best known for the Italian Market, many residents and travelers shop at the large market. While the Italian Market operates as a diverse open-air hub, many other foodies trek out to Bella Vista to sample the authentic cuisines at generations-old restaurants. Even so, lots of residents flock to Bella Vista for great eats and great residential options. The neighborhood is perfect for anyone seeking a rich culture in a quiet area.

Many families call Bella Vista home and finding a great house in the neighborhood is easy to find with many real estate options. Most residents often look for close proximity to eateries and education to determine housing location. With so many options from historical homes to luxury condominiums, the choices seem endless. What better than a Bella Vista home that sits near most of Bella Vista’s transportation, restaurant, and shopping options? Families enjoy local conveniences that make for a great living experience. This 915 S. 13th Street home has all of the makings of a true American dream home: a 3-story tiered home with four bedrooms. With a spacious living/dining room and kitchen interior, the house has a private backyard patio attached downstairs for fun backyard activities. The second floor has a large bathroom with a laundry area and the first set of bedrooms with large closets. The third floor has two additional bedrooms to finish out the home’s spacious features. The home sits close to all of the excitement and culture Bella Vista has to offer.

With Bella Vista’s family-oriented community, the neighborhood has exciting leisure opportunities and small town charm. As a safe haven from the city, Bella Vista offers an intimate living experience for everyone to enjoy.

Mayor Nutter’s Philadelphia Neighborhoods Campaign

Friday, June 28th, 2013

Mayor Nutter Philadelphia Neighborhoods Campaign

Those of you used to all talk and no action from your politicians might want to sit down a minute. Mayor Michael Nutter has proven repeatedly that he is not that type of politician, and his recent endeavor to promote Philadelphia tourism through his Philadelphia Neighborhoods Campaign has been an excellent illustration of the sort of hands-on action we’ve learned to

expect from Mayor Nutter.

This effort on the Mayor’s part seeks to reintroduce Philadelphians to their city while offering those not living in Philly a peek at all the City has to offer. The tour takes Mayor Nutter through various Philadelphia neighborhoods by trolley. He visited fourteen “visitor-ready” Philadelphia neighborhoods that are considered excellent examples of the success of the Philadelphia revitalization efforts of his administration.

Mayor Nutter revealed the motivations behind the Philadelphia Neighborhoods Campaign, saying, “Great neighborhoods make a great city; Passyunk is one of the great neighborhoods in Philadelphia.”

Bella Vista – With its famous Italian Market, many Italian delis and cafes, Bella Vista is a family-friendly residential neighborhood with plenty of family businesses and amazing food to be sampled and savored.

Callowhill – Restaurants and music venues provide an active nightlife fueled by the local artist populations, making this Philadelphia neighborhood a hit for those seeking a bite, a drink, and live music.

Cedar Park – Multicultural eateries provide a sample of the world’s best foods in Cedar Park. A stroll through this neighborhood presents classic Victorian architecture and a true taste of Philly’s diversity.

East Passyunk – This Philadelphia neighborhood provides an array of the city’s most popular bars and restaurants, giving it an active day and nightlife. For a great steak or an excellent margarita, head down to East Passyunk.

Fairmount – Philly’s fine arts center, Fairmount features the Philadelphia Museum of Art and such historic sites as Eastern State Penitentiary. Fairmount is truly a Philadelphia neighborhood that capture Philly’s artsy character.

Fishtown – Fishtown may not have the most enticing name of all Philadelphia neighborhoods, but its history of involvement in the commercial fishing industry does not belie the many independent businesses and restaurants to be enjoyed on its narrow streets.

Graduate Hospital – Classic Philadelphia brick construction and myriad eateries and taverns make Graduate Hospital a Philadelphia neighborhood worth revisiting if you have not in some time.

Northern Liberties – Have we mentioned Philadelphians love their food? Northern Liberties is a Philadelphia neighborhood that has been on the up-and-up since the 90s, encouraging a great local dining culture and nightlife.

Pennsport – Donuts, delis, hoagies, and cheesesteaks are just the beginning of the authentic Philly offerings available in Pennsport. This neighborhood is considered up-and-coming thanks to a recent increase in those moving from the ‘burbs to Pennsport.

Powelton Village – Beautiful houses and local businesses with a lot of personality are what you’ll find in Powelton Village, a lovely Philadelphia neighborhood often overlooked by tourists.

Queen Village – For a more mature experience of fine dining and casual cocktails in a neighborhood that houses some of Philly’s oldest residences, visit Queen Village an upscale Philly neighborhood with an older population.

Spring Garden – Spring Garden is just north of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, giving it a secluded, calmer feel. Its tree-lined streets and comfy cafes are excellent environments for a relaxing afternoon.

Spruce Hill – Capturing the big, bold character of West Philly, Spruce Hill is the neighborhood to visit. Full of eccentrics from artists to entrepreneurs and passionate athletes, this Philadelphia neighborhood captures Philly’s individualistic spirit.

University City – Home to Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania, University City is the heart of academia in Philly, offering residents and visitors great parks populated with students and the Institute of Contemporary Art.

Confused about Philly neighborhoods? There’s a map for that

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012
Philadelphia Neighborhoods on Google Maps

The Philadelphia Neighborhoods project on Google Maps

In Philadelphia, neighborhoods matter. (Not that they don’t elsewhere.) They confer – or deny – status to residents and property, which is why (1) arguments over which blocks are in which neighborhoods can get heated (2) residents of neighborhoods as varied as Point Breeze and Southwark coined new names for their communities in the hopes of erasing perceived stigmas.

To help people sort things out, the Philadelphia Neighborhoods collaborative project launched on Google Maps seeks to delineate the boundaries of every Philadelphia neighborhood. Like a wiki, anyone can add to or edit it, which should ultimately make it a pretty accurate guide to what blocks belong where.

The project currently has two maps active. Users might want to use the second to mark subsidiary communities within larger neighborhoods, such as Spruce Hill in University City, the Devil’s Pocket in Southwest Center City or the Gayborhood (or Midtown Village) in Washington Square West. Just be prepared for others to challenge you once you define their boundaries.

Philadelphia real estate market: First quarter trends

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Philadelphia Real EstateEven though the real estate market has been tumultuous for many recently, Philadelphia somehow seems to be doing much better compared to most other parts of the country. The local market has some activity, as in housing is being purchased and seeing increases. Additionally, construction of new single-family homes continues to go up, especially in the suburbs.

One point of prosperity in the Philly real estate market lies in the increase in existing home sales into December. December 2011 took in about five more percent of existing sales than December 2010 did. Sales from the end of last year thus far have been positive. This is something the housing market needs momentously. Thus far in 2012, there hasn’t been a significant increase in homes purchased but there is certainly a growing interest in property expected to take place. 

On the seller’s side, there is hope that rising apartment rental rates could drive some potential buyers back into the fold in 2012. The average rental rate for all Philadelphia apartments has gone up nearly eight percent in the last year alone. This equals an increase of nearly $80 in the past year alone. The thought is that those individuals or couples on the fence about renting and buying could take a more serious look at buying, especially with today’s mortgage rates.

Reports have shown that mortgage rates have been hitting record lows throughout the country, as well as here in Philadelphia, which is certainly inviting for potential buyers. Right now, a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is coming with 4.007 APR. With mortgage rates being this low and rentals continuing to increase in price, there is hope that some buyers will begin to see the benefits of buying in early 2012.

Right now, Philadelphia’s top selling areas have remained the northwestern and western areas of Center City. However, other parts of Philadelphia have retained their value attracting buyers and keeping the market going.

Right now, the big issue the city faces is sale prices, specifically for sellers. It is important to note that even though sales prices have dropped in this area, they have not plummeted as much as other cities across the country.


Rittenhouse Square

Rittenhouse Square, in western Center City, continues to show strength

In the coming months, there is reason to be optimistic that these prices can get a small pickup. Median prices were down about six percent in December from the previous year, but this could have been expected. The months of November and December are generally regarded as slow months for real estate anyway, but the numbers shouldn’t have too heavy an impact on the rest of the first quarter of 2012.

A glance at the early trends in 2012 Philadelphia real estate is truly a mixed bag right now. Coming off the month of December is usually not pretty for any market; however, the Philly market has looked rather stable in the early part of the year. Regardless, it should remain to be seen if factors such as mortgage rates, rising rental rates and an increase in existing home sales can positively influence the market for both buyers and sellers throughout the first half of 2012. 

–By Emma Crawford, special to

Let’s Do Brunch: 10 of Our Weekend Best

Friday, January 27th, 2012

And on the seventh day, ye shall rest. That means no cooking for you. Instead, treat yourself to a leisurely brunch at one of these great places. Whether you’re in the mood for a breakfast favorite or something more dinner-y, but on the light side, these stars of the weekend offer everyone living in Philadelphia a delightful, casual dining experience – and then some, in a few cases.

Weekend BrunchCarman’s Country Kitchen, 1301 South 11th Street (at Wharton), Passyunk Square. At this quirky, intimate diner, the best down-home cooking in Philadelphia comes with something special on the side: running conversation with the chef, who loves to mix it up on current events and whatever else is on her mind with the patrons. (Your blogger has had more than one super-cheap therapy session with Dr. Carman, who is guaranteed to remove whatever blues you may be feeling.) In good weather, you can dine al fresco at the picnic table mounted in the back of the pickup truck parked in front of the restaurant. Breakfast and brunch specialties served 7 days a week, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. BYOB.

Sam’s Morning Glory Diner, 10th and Fitzwater streets, Bella Vista. This “finer diner” is a daytime-only destination beloved by locals and lovers of fresh, local, seasonal ingredients. The weekend brunch menu features egg dishes, cakes and breads, salads and “samwiches” sure to please just about everyone. Steak lovers will appreciate the bargain-priced steak and eggs, and carb fans will find the challah French toast divine. Brunch served Saturdays and Sundays, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.

Sabrina’s Cafe, 910 Christian Street, Italian Market; 1804 Callowhill Street, Logan Square/Art Museum Area; 34th Street and Powelton Avenue, Powelton Village. Classic comfort food is Sabrina’s stock in trade, and the long lines of diners waiting for tables attest to its quality. Breakfast lovers will find their favorite meal served all day, and there are vegan and vegetarian items on the menu as well. Brunch specials include a burger of the week, eggs Benedict Florentine, and a continually changing menu of cleverly named creative items.Brunch served Sundays, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. BYOB.

Valanni, 1229 Spruce Street, Washington Square West. Cocktail lovers will find this uber-cool Gayborhood mainstay as much to their liking as diners will, with a drink menu that goes well beyond the standard Bloody Marys and Mimosas. The kitchen is incapable of turning out a mediocre meal, and brunch is no exception. The Monte Cristo sandwich is to die for. Outdoor seating in season. Brunch served Sundays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Jones, 700 Chestnut Street, Washington Square. Stephen Starr’s Mom-food eatery does everything with a nudge-nudge, wink-wink attitude, with the only difference being that you are in on the joke at this very Brady restaurant. The food, however, is serious – all your favorite classics are on the brunch menu, or you can order items from the all-day menu as well. Chicken-and-waffles fans, take note. It’s also a great place to dine with the kids. Brunch served Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Honey’s Sit ‘n’ Eat, 800 North 4th Street, Northern Liberties. Bet you didn’t know there was such a thing as “Southern Jewish food.” Well, there is, and Honey’s has it. It might be more accurate to say that the best traditions of Southern and Jewish cookery coexist side by side on Honey’s extensive menu, which features breakfast, brunch and deli favorites all made with ingredients sourced from some of the best local farms, including East Kensington’s Greensgrow Farm. But there are some interesting intersections of the two: brisket soft tacos, for instance. Brunch served Sundays, 7 a.m.-5 p.m. BYOB.

Jake’s and Cooper’s Wine Bar, 4365 Main Street, Manayunk. Feeling like doing something grownup for brunch? Here’s the place to do it. This Manayunk pioneer offers the full white-tablecloth, fine-dining experience and a menu of more than 30 items, all emphasizing sustainably grown, local ingredients. If you prefer wine to a Bloody Mary with your brunch, Cooper’s offers 35 different wines by the glass and 50 by the bottle, including several excellent values. (Jake’s will undergo a total makeover starting in the spring of 2012.) Brunch served Sundays, 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m.

The Swann Lounge at the Four Seasons, One Logan Square. $73 per person and worth every penny, the Swann Lounge’s Sunday brunch buffet is the most sumptuous in the city. Patrons enjoy an embarrassment of riches: traditional breakfast favorites, a global appetizer menu, salads and classic entrees, all prepared with French flair and served with one of the city’s loveliest views as a backdrop. Service, as one might expect at an establishment of this caliber, is super-attentive without being intrusive. Brunch served Sundays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Mixto, 1141-43 Pine Street, Washington Square West. From the owners of Tierra Colombiana in North Philly’s Zona del Oro comes this delightful Cuban-Latin-Caribbean fusion alternative to the standard weekend brunch. Sure, Mixto offers plenty of traditional items for the less adventurous, but the Creole, Cuban and Caribbean dishes on the restaurant’s weekend breakfast menu offer a break from the ordinary. The wood-and-brick décor and exterior plantings will make you think you’ve left Philly for the tropics – and for a while at least, you have. Try their bacon Bloody Mary as well. Brunch served Sundays, 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Farmicia, 15 S. 3rd Street, Old City. Imbibers, do your wallet a favor: Dine here and take advantage of the only weekend brunch Happy Hour in town, with half-price drinks from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Farmicia – the marriage of former White Dog Cafe chef Kevin Klause’s and Metropolitan Bakery owners James Barrett’s and Wendy Smith Born’s visions – offers simply prepared artisanal fare in a relaxed environment, with an emphasis on local ingredients. Brunch served Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

–By Sandy Smith

Photo by Alice Park from Wikimedia Commons, used under a Creative Commons license

Highlights from the Philly Living Market Action Report, 4th Quarter 2011

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

On the whole, it’s still a good time to buy if you are in the market for real estate in Philadelphia. But some market conditions are beginning to trend more favorably for sellers as well.

That’s our reading of the data in the latest Philly Living Market Action Report.  Our quarterly guide to real estate market trends in Center City and surrounding Philadelphia neighborhoods offers grounds for cautious optimism in the months to come. While sales volume is down for the quarter relative to the previous year, it is up significantly from the previous month and quarter, running counter to the usual end-of-year downturn. The average selling price for homes in Center City and environs rose significantly from last quarter and one year ago, while the median selling price fell slightly in both cases. This suggests that buyers on the whole are still looking for value, even though a few opted for properties at the upper end of the scale.

In terms of prices, the highest prices continue to be commanded in the city’s two most desirable neighborhoods: Rittenhouse Square (19103) and Chestnut Hill (19118). Worth noting, however, is a continued, sustained upward trend in median selling prices in Southwest Center City and Point Breeze (19146), reflecting especially increased activity in the latter neighborhood.

Inventory continues to decline, offering the prospect of better prices for sellers in the months to come, but days on market rose slightly, suggesting buyers are still waiting sellers out. Sale price-to-list price ratio also dropped slightly from last year and last quarter but held steady from the previous month.

For full details on activity in Philadelphia’s neighborhood housing markets, request a copy of the latest Market Action Report at

Philadelphia street scene by Adam Jones, Ph.D., used under a Creative Commons license

It’s Official: Philly Housing Market Is Improving

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Residential street in Center City PhiladelphiaThere are now 76 markets where the real estate picture is expected to look better in the months to come, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index, released Jan. 9. The Philadelphia real estate market is one of those 76.

The addition of 40 metro areas to the monthly list of improving markets suggests that the fitful housing market recovery is spreading beyond the smaller markets that were not as heavily affected by the bursting of the housing bubble in 2008. Last month, there were 41 cities on the list. (Five of those – Anchorage, Alaska; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Canton, Ohio; Scranton, Pa., and Charleston, W. Va. – dropped off the list.)

“While relatively small metropolitan areas continue to dominate the list of improving housing markets, it’s important to note that several major metros in diverse parts of the country have now joined the field as well – including such metros as Dallas, Denver, Honolulu, Indianapolis, Nashville and Philadelphia,”NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said in a news release. “This is an encouraging sign that gradually strengthening economic conditions are starting to take hold across a broader swath of America.”

The NAHB and title insurer First American base the index on trends in three categories: employment growth from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, house price appreciation from Freddie Mac, and growth in single-family housing construction permits from the U.S. Census Bureau. A metro area that has had six consecutive months of growth from a prior trough in all three areas gets added to the index.

What does this mean for you, the Philadelphia home owner or buyer? If you are in the latter camp, we suggest you accelerate your house-hunting timetable if you can. While home price growth is forecast to be modest for the year ahead, prices are expected to rise, and that means that you are more likely to get the home you want at a great price now than later. If you are a home owner, talk with your Realtor about the ideal time to put your home on the market if you are still weighing your options. Our team of real estate experts can assist you in determining when and how to best take advantage of a rising market.

School Report Card: Christopher Columbus Charter School

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

Location: 916 Christian Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147 (North Site); 1242 S. 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147 (South Site)

Enrollment: 775 students in grades K-8 in 2010-11

Student-teacher ratio: 15.3 in 2010

Demographics: African-American, 33.5%; White, 51.4%; Asian, 8.1%; Latino, 6.7%; all others, 0.3%. 66% of Christopher Columbus students came from economically disadvantaged backgrounds in the 2009-10 school year.


Attendance rate (2010-11) 96%.

PSSA performance (2011, percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced):

Subject This School District Public Schools State
Math 64.5% 58.6% 77.1%
Reading 70.8% 52.0% 73.5%
Science 65.3% 34.8% 60.9%
Writing 82.8% 51.2% 75.0%


Profile: While the Italian-American heritage of the Christopher Columbus Charter School (CCCS) and its neighborhood is reflected in its name, the school itself reflects the increasingly diverse community that surrounds its two buildings near the Italian Market and Passyunk Square. The school’s curriculum is based on Core Knowledge principles, with a strong emphasis on language arts: students are expected to learn at least one foreign language in addition to English. Use of the latest technology is also a core component of the school’s educational program. The school’s staff and faculty have also committed themselves to providing a “safe, orderly, disciplined and caring environment” in which learning can take place. As a Title I school, CCCS offers enhanced academic support to students who are educationally at risk of failing to meet state standards for performance.


Our 10 (+1) Favorite Restaurants in Philadelphia in 2011

Friday, December 30th, 2011

One of the many great things about living in Philadelphia is the embarrassment of riches that is the city’s dining scene. Longtime residents can recite the history that led to this delightful state, beginning with the 1970s “Restaurant Renaissance” and building from there to the present. Philadelphians today enjoy a dazzling variety of eateries, from greasy spoons to elegant establishments, that offer cuisine from around the world and close to home in settings from relaxed to super-formal and at prices that suit every budget.

That scene is constantly changing, too, as new chefs try out new ideas and established names branch out in new directions. One notable local trend this year was the opening of a raft of restaurants that feature local ingredients, like The Farm and the Fisherman and The Farmer’s Cabinet in Washington Square West and Kennett off South Street. Dining impresario Stephen Starr gave Center City its first authentic English pub with The Dandelion, which opened this past summer, and another new Starr-backed establishment, Talula’s Garden, proved an immediate sensation with critics and diners when it opened on Washington Square later in the year.

Your blogger wasn’t quite able to sample all the delicious developments in Philly’s dining scene this year. But with some help from friends, we’ve been able to put together a list of 10 places – some old, some new – that consistently deliver excellent food with good service in a great atmosphere. Here, then, are Philly Living’s 10 favorite Philadelphia restaurants of 2011, in no particular order:

Han Dynasty, 108 Chestnut Street, Old City. The in-town outpost of the highly regarded Sichuan restaurant in Exton never disappoints. From mild to wild, the dishes are consistently well executed. Go with a group and be sure to share – it will be an education for your palate.

Opa Restaurant interior

The stylish interior of Opa, the new casual Greek restaurant that’s on our 10 Favorites list

Opa, 1311 Sansom Street, Midtown Village/Washington Square West. This moderately priced newcomer offers contemporary interpretations of classic Greek fare in a casually stylish setting. Not out for a full meal? Try one of their excellent appetizers at the bar, which has a creative cocktail menu and several great local brews on tap.

City Tap House, 3925 Walnut Street, University City. Sure, you will be sharing the space with Penn students on a bender, but there’s plenty of room for everyone in its large, modern-rustic dining room. There’s also an outdoor terrace in good weather. Craft beers and fresh seasonal ingredients go together like hand in glove at this eatery, which capitalizes on Philadelphia’s reputation as one of the best beer cities in America.

Friday Saturday Sunday, 261 South 21st Street, Rittenhouse Square. This sole survivor of the Restaurant Renaissance still “loves you every night.” It’s also still the best place in town for a romantic dinner date, with its intimate size and still-funky decor. Its kitchen is still producing simple yet elegant dishes with flair, 37 years on, and it still has the lowest markup on wine in the city – every bottle only $10 over cost.

PYT, 1050 North Hancock Street, Northern Liberties. What’s a burger joint doing on this list? Constantly experimenting, that’s what. Legendary party promoter Tommy Up’s uber-casual burger joint/lounge/club in the Piazza at Schmidt’s continually turns out new, creative, and sometimes flat-out weird variations on the classic burger, with a different featured burger each week. Past creations include the Krispy Kreme Burger, the Chicken & Waffle Burger, and the Korean Short Rib Burger, which proved such a hit it was added to the permanent menu. Needless to say, this is not a place for the health- or weight-conscious.

Le Virtu, 1927 East Passsyunk Avenue, South Philadelphia. All Abruzze, all the time, made the old-fashioned way with all the local ingredients the owners can get their hands on. House-cured meats and fresh pasta are among the stars at this anchor of the East Passyunk Avenue restaurant row.

Raw Sushi & Sake Lounge, 1227 Sansom Street, Midtown Village/Washington Square West; 1050 North Hancock Street, Northern Liberties; Cafe Boyd’s, inside the men’s wear store at 1818 Chestnut Street, Rittenhouse Square. This stylish contemporary Japanese restaurant, which recently opened a second outpost at the Piazza, loves to play with its signature dish. If you like it raw, you will love what the sushi masters here do with rice, fish and vegetables. The cooked entrees aren’t bad either.

Osteria, 640 North Broad Street, Fairmount. Marc Vetri’s more casual Italian dining spot is every bit as outstanding as his justly famous small restaurant on Spruce Street, but easier to get into and somewhat easier on the wallet. It’s a must-visit for pizza lovers as well, as the pies on the menu are the best in the city. Of special note is the Lombarda,with Cotechino sausage, two cheeses and a fried egg atop a delicate crispy crust.

Los Taquitos de Puebla, 1149 South Ninth Street, Italian Market/Bella Vista. The influx of immigrants from the southern Mexican state of Puebla is perhaps the best thing that’s happened to the Italian Market in years, and this unassuming taqueria is a happy product of that phenomenon. Cheap and delicious, their tacos de pastor are the best in town. More adventurous eaters will find on the menu dishes made from parts of the cow you probably never thought edible: anyone for ojos or cabeza de res?

Picanha Grill, 6501 Castor Avenue, Castor Gardens. Like Fogo de Chao, this Brazilian churrascuria in the Northeast is run by actual Brazilians. And like Fogo, it features a salad bar and a dine-till-you-drop parade of succulent meats. But unlike Fogo, you can enjoy all this without taking out a loan for your meal: the all-you-can-eat experience here costs a mere $25.

Bonus: Oyster House, 1516 Sansom Street, Rittenhouse Square. Sam Mink, the third generation of the Philadelphia family behind the legendary Kelly’s of Mole Street, took his family’s old-school seafood restaurant and lightened it up. The bright, open dining room still sports the knickknacks that have graced its walls since 1976, but just about everything else is new and improved, including the best lobster roll outside New England. Don’t miss the buck-a-shuck oyster special at the bar at happy hour.

–Sandy Smith

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