frank Vincent, Philadelphia Little Italy Italian Market, Philadelphia Little Italy Pat's Steaks in Philadelphia's Little Italy


Phildelphia is one of America's oldest cities- and the Little Italy and Italians there give it a great ethnic flair.

Fictionally, the Little Italy was made famous by Rocky Balboa who ran through the streets to train. However, in real life Philadelphia's Little Italy has had several famous Italian residents including: Frankie Avalon, Bobby Rydell and Filippo Mazzei.

According to, Italians have always been a part of the city, from its very beginnings. (History Refresher: Philadelphia, before English rule, was known as New Sweden. The Waldensians were Italian Protestants who came to America seeking religious freedom. They settled in New Sweden in the 1600s. When Pennsylvania became an English colony, it was initially estimated that there were over 150 Italians living in Philadelphia.)

As time progressed, and Europe plunged into political unrest, many Italians fled to America. Initially, the Italians were from northern Italian cities like Pisa and Genoa. Steadily, the number of Italians rose to 1,600. However, the great Italian migration of the late 1800s would bring with it Italians from the south- and in very large numbers. In just over 80 years (1880s- 18960s), Philadelphia went from having an Italian population of 1,600 to 600,000. It was in the 1970s that Philadelphia had its first Italian mayor, Frank Rizzo. 

An historical marker (pictured left) was also erected just in front of the Frank Rizzo mural in 2008. The mural, entitled "The Italian Market" briefly explains the market forming a business association in the early 1900s. It notes that while other ethnic groups were involved in the association, it was (and continues to be) dominated by Italian food purveyors.

Places you should visit:

The Italian Market
The mural of Frank Rizzo is right in the heart of Little Italy (featured above)
Capitolo Playground
Pat's Steaks
Geno's steaks

*We won't tell you which is better- try them both!

While there may no longer be 600,000 Italians living in Philadelphia, the old Italian centers are still alive and doing well. In our opinion, the Little Italy in Philadelphia is larger and houses more Italians and Italian shops and restaurants than the Little Italy of New York City.