We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Rused Service”

Ralph's Italian Restaurant
Reserve with OpenTable
Ralph's Italian Restaurant is not available for your requested time. Choose another time, or search restaurants with availability.
The time you selected has already passed.
Ranked #98 of 4,370 Restaurants in Philadelphia
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $18 - $30
Cuisines: Italian, Seafood, Steakhouse
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Local cuisine, Large groups, Families with children, Bar scene, Romantic
Dining options: Dinner, Late Night, Lunch, Reservations
Dining style: Casual Dining
Neighborhood: Bella Vista / Queen Village
Cross street: Catherine
Description: Oldest Italian restaurant in the U.S. established in 1900. Still run by the fourth and fifth generations of the original family.
Cherry Hill, New Jersey
Level Contributor
129 reviews
72 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
“Rused Service”
Reviewed December 23, 2012

Hard to enjoy your meal when the waiter is rude. Hardly gave us enough time to order our meals. We felt very rushed. The food is ok; nothing special. Only came here because it has been in South Philly a long time. Would not return.

Visited November 2012
Thank lenlo61
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

478 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Kirkwood, New Jersey
Level Contributor
54 reviews
29 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
“There is a reason Ralph's is still ope.”
Reviewed December 19, 2012

Based on past experience, every dish I have ordered has been wonderful. The food and atmosphere is like home.

You want to be sure you make reservations during prime dinner time or bringing a group. (+4 people).

If coming from the Society Play House, show your ticket stub for a free glass of vino.

Accept cash only.

  • Visited November 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Kathy J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
80 reviews
57 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
“A Landmark. Great food and atmosphere”
Reviewed December 16, 2012 via mobile

I have now gone there twice in one month. I was extremely satisfied. If you like traditional Italian dishes at a reasonable price you will not be disappointed. Portions were large, bread fresh and great. Canole Cake was a 10.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Pvb4me
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
105 reviews
83 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
“Philly Italian Original”
Reviewed December 11, 2012

Excellent old school Italian fare. Maitre'd fit 12 of us in on a Friday night of Army/Navy weekend which is huge in Philadelphia! The staff was attentive to our needs (Incl. 2 children) and the food was brought to the table in efficient order. The meals were given high grades by all at the table, including apps of escarole, broccoli rabe, mussels, and calamari, with entrees of lobster ravioli, pork chops, linguini pescatore, chicken breast with broccoli rabe, and chicken parm. A return is definite as the entire evening was made special by the attention paid to us by the staff.
"You have to pay attention to the cash only policy!"

  • Visited December 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
1 Thank Richard D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ardmore, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
96 reviews
70 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 63 helpful votes
“Old World Italian American in New World”
Reviewed November 30, 2012

Ralph’s on 9th Street just off Christian has been a Philadelphia landmark for over one hundred years. While 9th street has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember I have never eaten at Ralph’s. Now, I must say from the start, that Ralph’s is the kind of Italian restaurant that I avoid. Ralph’s is an old time, red sauce kind of place: the kind of Sunday macaroni and gravy that I grew up on. But these days, I suppose I have grown beyond it. Having lived and studied in Italy back in the 70’s, I experienced lighter, cleaner flavors in Italian foods. When I came home I introduced my family to these recipes. That was the end of the red sauce tradition in our house. The same reformation was happening in kitchens and restaurants across the country. This was the era of Julia Child and the great culinary awakening. Restaurants like Ralph’s were old school. The wonderful film “Big Night” lyrically illustrates the two worlds: meat balls and spaghetti vs. shrimp risotto.
Recently an episode of Lydia featured Philadelphia and a trip to Ralph’s. Lydia’s enthusiasm for Ralph’s traditions sparked a bit of guilt and regret. As an Italian American I had rejected and neglected long held culinary traditions. As a Philadelphian whose great –grandparents settled on 9th in Christian in 1885, I had ignored and concealed my history. I owed Ralph the respect of their kitchen.
Ralph’s is a rather small space. Tables are close together, perhaps too close. You can hear almost every conversation in the room: some conversations not necessarily appropriate for dining. The room is very dark, but immaculately clean. The wait staff, all men, sharply groomed and attired in black, greets and serves with the utmost friendliness and attention: perfectly traditional Italian.
With menu in hand we carefully scanned to find the balance between traditional heavy red sauce and lighter fare. As we scanned the selections we also watched what was coming from the kitchen. No small number of dishes were bowls or narrow plates of red gravy that completely obscured whatever lay beneath. This was not the direction we wanted to go. Lydia highlighted the Chicken Trombino. So, that was our first pick. The reason for her choice became clear when the dishes arrived. The giambotta of egg, sausage and chicken looked promising. Although I knew giambotta as an eggplant and squash dish this version with egg merited investigation. For our third dish we went for the veal with peppers and mushrooms. As a starter we ordered a cup of the” pasta fazool “(pasta e fagioli.) As usual, if you read my other reviews, we would share our lunch. Requesting the waiter to bring extra plates for sharing is never a problem. I suggest it strongly.
The minestra, the “pasta fazool,” warmed our chilled 9th street shoppers’ bones. In many ways, the soup is the indicator of a good restaurant. If the cooks are attentive to a simple soup, you know they will be attentive to the main courses. Ralph’s rich and creamy bean soup hit the mark.
The main courses arrived in properly measured time. We began with the giambotta. As I mentioned, giambotta as I knew it was something of an eggplant and squash stew. Ralph’s version is what I would call a frittata. The portion was large and an easy share for three people. The sausage and chicken enriched each bite. But, there was one element that recalled the old style: green peppers. Green peppers tend to be course and biting. While they were a staple in recipes in my childhood, I no longer use them. They have been replaced by fully ripe red or yellow or orange peppers.
We then moved to the veal. For the three of us at the table, this was not an easy dish. The veal was heavily coated in red sauce and green peppers. It was just too strong. Nonetheless, I must say that this was exactly how my mother would make it when I was a child, and why, even as a child, I didn’t care for it. The veal arrives with a side of spaghetti in red sauce. The spaghetti was cold and the sauce too heavy for my taste.
Our last entrée, the Chicken Trombino, was suggested by Lydia and I can see why. The Chicken Trombino is not a traditional Italian American dish. This recipe is clearly something from a different inspiration. There is no heavy red sauce. The full chicken breasts are served with clean, fresh chunks of tomato and seasonings. The Chicken Trombino , in its light preparation, is what I prefer in Italian cooking.
It is very difficult to give a rating to Ralph’s. Clearly, Ralph’s offers foods with an Italian American history more than 100 years old. What they do, they do well. The restaurant is small but meticulous. The staff is elegant and affable. The service is prompt and the food well prepared in its own style. For many, Ralph’s is a rich and hearty experience of old time Italian American food in new world. For me, Ralph’s is an excursion to the past. But, is it really a past that I wish to recall?

  • Visited November 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank TonyDM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Ralph's Italian Restaurant also viewed

Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia, PA

Been to Ralph's Italian Restaurant? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing