The Required: Philadelphia

The Required: Philadelphia

A definitive guide to Philadelphia's tried and trues, as chosen by over 3000+ of the nation's top chefs, sommeliers, bartenders, & other food and beverage pros.

July 30, 2020
The Required: Philadelphia

The Required: Philadelphia

A definitive guide to Philadelphia's tried and trues, as chosen by over 3000+ of the nation's top chefs, sommeliers, bartenders, & other food and beverage pros.

July 30, 2020

Philadelphia. The City of Brotherly Love. Philly. Home to some excellent food, and now part of our Required club. 

The Required is our expert version of a "best list," comprised of the stand-out restaurants that have garnered the all-time most recommendations from our expert community. That's 5000+ all-star chefs, sommeliers, bartenders, and more–no black box of food editor committees or user surveys, just plain, crave-able cred.

Read on to plan your next trip—or just to be sure you've checked all the boxes on your home turf.

Pizzeria Stella

The Story: Expert/Restaurant Mogul Stephen Starr opened Pizzeria Stella in Headhouse Square in 2009, and it has since become a neighborhood institution. Their brick wood fired oven reaches heats of 850 degrees, resulting in crisp, bubbly, lightly caramelized crust and cheese action on their Neapolitan style pies, and baked pasta dishes. 

What to Eat: Though the menu changes with the seasons, one pie that’s usually available and a unanimous Expert favorite is the Tartufo– with Shaved Black Truffle, Egg, and Fontina. The Rigatoni Lamb Bolognese with Pistachio Gremolata, and Broccoli Rabe with Garlic and Ricotta Salata are other excellent choices. The menu has plenty of options for carnivores and vegetarians alike, making it an ideal spot for friends and families with diverse dietary preferences. 

What to Drink: One of the lucky few restaurants to have a full liquor license in Philadelphia, you should try their take on a classic whiskey sour, the Air Italia–Bulleit Bourbon, Amaro, Aperol, Lemon, and Egg White. They also have rotating draft and imported beers, as well as a badass selection of regional Italian wines. 

The Vibe: With its winsome combination of exposed brick, hardwood, and tiled walls, and a towering library of split, stacked wood for their brick oven, Pizzeria Stella smells and feels warm and welcoming from the moment you walk in. Open seven days a week from 11:30 AM to 11 PM, just about any time is the right time to pay them a visit. 

Pizzeria Stella
Hot Spot
Center City East, Philadelphia
$$, Happy Hour, Outdoor Seating, Pizza, Reservations, Full Bar, Italian
9 Recommendations

Paesano's Philly Style

The Story: Chef/Expert Peter McAndrews has kept Paesano’s Philly Style in his portfolio of restaurants he oversees. Known simply as “Paesano’s” to locals, this spot is the jam if you’re wanting a variety of classic and contemporary takes on one of the most important contributions the East Coast has made to American eats: the hot grinder aka the hot hoagie aka the hot sub aka yes we know these all sound like dating apps, but please, get your minds out of the gutter.  

What to Eat: "The sandwiches are so good, I once took my two sous chefs there and we ordered every sandwich on the menu. My favorite is the Meatloaf Parmesan, layered with peppers, red sauce, mozzarella, and sharp Provolone,” says Expert/Chef Brad Spence. Of their namesake sando, the Paesano Chef/Expert Sean McPaul says “The Paesano is a knockout: chunked up, juicy beef brisket dressed with a spicy horseradish mayo, roasted tomatoes, pepperoncini, and sharp provolone. Then they round the whole thing out with a fried egg. I only eat this thing at night because it knocks me out. Seriously, it will ruin a much valued day off…" Chef/Expert Eric Berley says the Gustaio is his go to: “When I happen to be near a Paesano's on a workday around lunchtime, I have to have this sandwich. Tucked into flatbread, the African-spiced lamb sausage with cherries, Gorgonzola Dolce, and arugula is foreign yet familiar and altogether delicious.”

What to Drink: Grab a bottle of Philadelphia based Hank’s Black Cherry or Root Beer. 

The Hungry Pigeon

The Story: After trying an “All-Day Café” model, which proved to be financially and energetically unsustainable, Chef/Owner Scott Schroeder of Hungry Pigeon refocused his and his team’s efforts on providing outstanding dinner service seven nights a week, with a weekend brunch for their die-hard daytime fans. Hungry Pigeon offers some of the best New American cuisine Philly has to offer, with just enough contemporary tweaks to keep the classics relevant. 

What to Eat: While their menus change frequently based on what the seasonal market has to offer, staples like Chicken Liver Mousse on Rye with Pickled Celery and Mustard Oil, Family Style Whole Fried Chicken with Slaw, and the Steamed Little Neck Clams with Calabrian Chile, Garlic, and Parsley tend to stay year round due to their popularity and ready availability of ingredients. 

What to Drink: One of those rare Philly birds that has a liquor license,  Hungry Pigeon’s cocktail program mirrors their dinner menu: contemporary takes on the classics. We’re rather fond of The Rose Hotel– Manatawny Pi-Gin, Campari, Rose Syrup, Grapefruit and Egg White. They also have a well rounded list of imported and domestic wine, and rotating microbrews on draft. 

The Vibe: A cute neighborhood café with hardwood floors, exposed brick, and warm lighting, clean and casual. 

The Hungry Pigeon
Hot Spot
Southwark, Philadelphia
$$, Happy Hour, Modern, Full Bar, American
2 Recommendations
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