Having no idea, fate led me north on 9th Street through one of the city's greatest cultural encounters. On that late Sunday afternoon, the Italian Markets were just winding down. Scattered carts and crates of damaged produce had spilled off sidewalks, further confining the crowded street. Captured by grittiness, turning off the stereo and rolling down a window allowed smells and sounds to invigorate the adventure, stuck in a snail's pace-parade, with immediate transport to old-world Italy.
Nine years later, the Italian Market has organized in hopes of luring tourists from downtown. I was surprised to find banners advertising street festivals and their website, but the "sprucing up" has definitely eroded the authentic environment so questionably appealing. Over time, each return visit signified progressive changes that come within poorer immigrant neighborhoods, namely with ethnic turnover. Asians were gaining annual momentum as business owners and customers. Now it's the Mexicans.
Coming here on a Tuesday morning, the day after a major holiday, was hopefully why many businesses were closed and vendor carts sat abandoned along streets. Finding people of every race working behind counters spoiled the quixotic memories of when Italians literally had the market and area cornered.
Trendy bistros and cafés serving numerous types of foods have crept in among the forefathers, proudly vaunting their family-run traditions since the mid-to-late-1800s. Reputable Italian restaurants are still secondary to the market, where handmade pastas and cheeses, butcher shops and fish stands, and bakeries and produce carts feed the neighborhood with traditional feasts prepared at home.
Visitors shouldn't go hungry, whether snacking from the markets or dining at one of the many restaurants, including a pair of Philly's favorites reviewed in the dining entry. There's also an abundance of discount stores with household supplies and trinkets jamming sidewalks with more selections inside. Whether planning to eat or shop, the real highlight is what remains of customs and traditions.
Groups of old codgers still cluster in shaded areas, avidly debating daily issues using communication skills that define the Italian-American stereotype. Proficient shoppers argue with vendors over quantity and quality under watchful eyes of Guido-type owners. For some, nothing's changed, with even styles reflecting decades gone by. A bearded, apron-clad meatball obstructs the doorway to his shop waiting for customers while randomly belting along with the opera music coming from an apartment window. Now that's Italian.
The Italian Markets are located along 9th Street, a pleasant 12-block walk south of Market Street. The 47M bus, caught on 8th St., loops back along 9th, a one-way street heading north. Using the subway, take the Broad Street Line from City Hall south to Ellsworth-Federal and walk 5 blocks east.
Results 1-4of 4 Reviews
November 19, 2010
by Local Secrets
New York, New York
March 18, 2008
by Jose Kevo
June 14, 2005
From journal FREEDOM - An Escape Artist in Philly
September 8, 2002
Another excellent place for true Italian delicacies is "Talluto's." This place rocks with fresh-made specialty pastas (available fresh and frozen), sauces, imported meats and the best selection of olives I have encountered anywhere on the East Coast. Also available here, the best Italian Hoagie in the city and good selection of real prosciutto,mortadella and capicolla as well as salami and soppressate. If you are interested in carrying home a fresh-killed goat,lamb or eel there are places along 9th street where you can find just such a thing. Don't forget the "War of the Philly Steaks." Two nearby steak sandwich emporiums (Gino's and Nick's) have battled it out for years trying to produce the best cheese steak. A hint; they both use velveeta so take it from there. Look elsewhere in Philly for the best.
Produce of every description abounds in outdoor stalls year round and even in cold weather you will find vendors and patrons alike huddled around huge "trash" can fires talking, smoking, etc...Legend says this is how the "doo-wop" music of South Philly got its start with acapella groups harmonizing in settings like this. At any rate, the Italian Market is certainly worth a trip for anyone who loves local color and loves to eat!
From journal The Philadelphia Story- new entries 2004