It’s no secret that Philadelphia is a haven for food lovers. It's home to a flourishing restaurant scene and some of our nation’s oldest, continuously running markets and it’s easy to taste your way through the City of Brotherly Love. But don’t stop there. Explore the numerous small specialty shops, offering everything from old-school bruschetta makers to small batch preserves; items to stock your pantry, equip your kitchen and perhaps find the perfect gift for the cooks and foodies in your life. Here are some of our favorites.
Fante’s Kitchen Shop
Family-owned-and-operated in the Italian Market since 1906, Fante’s is Philadelphia’s go-to destination for outfitting any kitchen. If you want to cook it, you’ll find the tools to do it here.
Aisles are stocked from floor to ceiling, with colanders and copper pots dangling from above with colorful gadgets and tea cozies spanning the walls. Find items ranging from the classic—bundt pans in every imaginable design, espresso makers and a vast wall of chef’s knives—to more specialty items including an apt array of Italian tools. There are pizzelle irons for making the traditional Italian waffle cookie, a $2,000 brass duck press (meant for squeezing the juices out of cooked duck) and a Brustolina La Gratella stovetop toaster used to make deliciously authentic bruschetta.
If the sheer volume of goods is overwhelming, the friendly staff is happy to offer guidance. And for shoppers looking for a patriotic souvenir, there’s even a Liberty Bell-shaped cutting board.
Melange Tea & Spice
It’s evident in this small, expertly-curated shop that the owner is passionate about his products.
Teas and spices from all over the globe are showcased in simple, beautifully designed packages inspired by the periodic table of elements, and, in keeping with the scientific theme, test tubes holding samples of the herbs and spices are available for a whiff before purchase. Choose from over 40 varieties of tea offered in a range of flavor profiles, from the sweet vanilla or lychee to the robust Lapsang Souchong. The owner is happy to share his expertise and guide you to your perfect cup, and for under $30, he’ll box up a teapot, scale, filters, and a loose tea. Or, for a uniquely Philadelphia gift, opt for a bag of the Hoagie Spice—an exclusive blend to take home and sprinkle on “Philly Hoagies, as well as other, lesser sandwiches.”
Green Aisle Grocery
Locals pop into Green Aisle Grocery to grab organic milk, locally sourced meat, Zahav hummus and fresh fruits and veggies, but don’t miss the interesting selection of small batch preserves, pickles and cocktail mixers. In additional to classics like Apple Butter and heirloom tomato Bloody Mary mix, more unique finds include Nectarine Butter, Strawberry Kumquat, and pickled Moroccan Zucchini, all made in-house at their Grays Ferry location.
Di Bruno Bros.
This Philadelphia-based specialty food retailer began in the Italian Market in 1939. The original shop remains—a sliver of space dominated by the impressive cheese counter where shoppers can sample the selection. Now, there are four additional shops including the Rittenhouse Square flagship. While the focus there remains on cheese, the expansive selection of goods and gifts also warrants a stop. There are artisanal hot sauces, a dedicated truffle section with oils, salt and honey, and a range of Di Bruno Bros. products, including crackers and crostini to pair with cheeses, gift boxed chocolate bars, spiced nuts, jars of pasta sauces like puttanesca and pesto and a line of utterly addictive cheese spreads.
The Tubby Olive
The selection at this Bucks County import tucked inside the historic Reading Terminal Market ranges from traditional (the Tuscan Herb oil and 18 Year Aged balsamic are popular sellers) to more interesting, offbeat flavored and infused oils and vinegars. Offerings like Lavender, Cranberry Pear White and Serrano Honey balsamic vinegars are surprisingly versatile. Taste for yourself and ask the knowledgeable staff to recommend vibrant flavor combos like Basil oil with Blackberry Ginger vinegar.
Founded in the city in 1994, Philadelphians looking for a jolt can head to one of the many La Colombe coffee shops around the city. But those who want to upgrade their own barista skills should head to the company’s headquarters and flagship cafe, located in the Fishtown neighborhood. The large, industrial-chic space sells the usual lineup of coffee drinks as well as the first-ever draft latte, on-tap or in a can, and a selection of roasted beans and gear. Pick up a French press or an espresso maker, a La Colombe mug and accessories to replicate that perfect cup of coffee at home.
Claudio Specialty Foods
“What year did Grandpop open the store?” a third generation of the Claudio family asked his father Sal, manning the shop on a busy Saturday.
For more than 60 years, this specialty shop has been selling cheeses and cured meats in the Italian Market. Today, shelves are slightly buckled under the weight of dried pastas, including gluten-free varieties, a signature line of red sauces and jars of imported tuna in olive oil. A bottle of Claudio dipping olive oil, hailing from Italy’s Puglia region, comes with a small bag of spices for a classically Italian gift.
Cardenas Oil & Vinegar Taproom
This more recent addition to the Italian Market opened in 2013 and offers a curated range of over 50 types of olive oils and vinegars from around the world, each on-tap and housed in a sleek metal container, available to taste before you buy. A dedicated Salt Bar spans the globe from Himalayan pink to French fleur du sel, and small batch bitters and mixers are offered to freshen up your favorite cocktail.