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Report on South Philly Italian for Vegetarians + Marra's

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Report on South Philly Italian for Vegetarians + Marra's

Steve | Apr 5, 2004 09:28 AM

I wanted to report back on two meals on Saturday with my Vegetarian guests in South Philly.

First off was lunch. We went to Gianna’s Grill on 6th St (Old Levis’). From the outside it looks sort of run down or nothing special. Inside was a fantastic array of Pizza’s by the slice, some with meat but many vegetarian or Vegan. I had Portobello, roasted red pepper and spinach. Others had 4 cheese or Mushroom. Slices are $2.00 to $2.50 and very tasy. Not crisp crust though. One had to try the Vegan Cheesesteak which was huge ($6.00). He said it was a bit under seasoned. It’s basically fried diced soy with soy cheese. (BTW, many of the pizzas give you soy cheese option. Not busy at 12:15pm Saturday but full by 12:30. The place is CLEAN and the folks nice. I live a few blocks away and have never been there but certainly will go back. There was a comment here about the “piercing crowd” but it’s no more than at Taco Bell or McDonalds. This is South Street.

Afternoon was walk through Italian Market. They were impressed by Fantes and Claudios and loved cannoli at Isgros.

Dinner was at Marra’s. We had 7:15 reservation. There were 6 of us including a well behaved 7 ½ year old. We arrived and table was ready. In years of going, I never knew there was a large 2nd floor. This is airier – non smoking – and reasonably quiet even with large parties.

I can’t race enough about how accommodating they were. When one of the women arrived and said she was allergic to an ammonia smell she said was coming from the stairwell, the manager offered to move our whole group downstairs, even though we started the meal. This meant moving the food and changing waitresses. EVERYONE on staff was pleasant and helpful. The woman in our group really made it hard on them at the busiest time – and I was embarrassed that she (the woman) made such a fuss – but they came through. As for the food and atmosphere, it was right for getting the South Philly feeling of the 1960s with basic red sauce, excellent pizzas and huge portiond of pasta. This is not gourmet food but when huge plate of Spaghetti is $7.50 ($2.50 for meatballs) and I got 2 chicken breasts in white wine sauce with spaghetti for $11.00 it won’t break the bank.

So I found a great (and cleaner) Pizza by slice alternative to Lorenzos and confirmed how a great family run restaurant like Marra’s can make you feel like family even under trying circumstances.

Steve (not a vegetarian)

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