Insider Philadelphia Travel Guide: Marc Vetri Waits in Line for Killer Cannoli

It’s impossible to talk about Philadelphia’s restaurant scene without mentioning Best New Chef 1999 Marc Vetri’s mini empire of fantastic Italian restaurants, including his flagship, Vetri, and his newest, Alla Spina. Here, five of his favorite places to go in the city during the holidays.
Rittenhouse Square
Rittenhouse Square
Photo © Rusty Kennedy for GPTMC.

Holiday Must-See: Rittenhouse Square

“Starting right after Thanksgiving, there’s usually a big tree right in the middle of the square, and the city hosts a tree-lighting ceremony, but the tree’s not my favorite part. I love these colored globe lights hanging all around. They give the square a magical feeling.”

93,000-Square-Foot Super Museum: The Barnes Foundation

This year, one of the country’s most amazing art collections—including works by Cézanne, Picasso and Van Gogh—moved from a suburban mansion to the heart of the city. “Now it’s a a must-see for anyone who comes to Philadelphia. Literally, ever since it opened in spring, we get folks every night who tell us they’ve come from North Carolina, from Florida, from L.A., to see the new Barnes.”

Iconic Cannoli: Isgro Pasticceria

“This place has been on Christian Street since 1904 and they make the best cannoli. Sometimes, right before family meal at Vetri, we’ll run down there and get some for our staff dessert. Staff fills them to order so the shells stay crisp, and the ricotta is just right: not too sweet, not too savory. They also make dozens of pastries and cookies. But around the holidays, be prepared to wait in line!”

Best Food Gifts: 9th Street Italian Market

“Every stand at this outdoor market lights roaring fires right in the middle of the road in these old metal oil barrels. You’d think it would be a big fire hazard, but it’s awesome. One of the shops there, Di Bruno Bros., always has some new cheese they just brought in, or some really nice olive oil, or a new, high-end dried pasta. They have great olives, fresh anchovies, everything that you would want for a nice meal—or stocking stuffers, for that matter.”

Urban Sledding: Lemon Hill in Fairmount Park

“The hill has easy parking, a great view and it’s a fun ride down.”