By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Christmas Eve shoppers along Ninth Street in South Philadelphia (known to outsiders as “the Italian Market”) were loading up today on everything from appetizers to main courses and desserts.

The lines were long outside the famous cheese, pasta, sausage, meat, fish, bread, and pastry shops, where many were picking up the perfect antipasto — if they weren’t having the Feast of the Seven Fishes.

Matt, from  Northeast Philadelphia, said he is hosting about 20 people.

“I picked up some prima donna cheese, some proscuitto, some peppers stuffed with goat cheese, and some other stuffed peppers,” he told KYW Newsradio.

One couple — transplants from the neighborhood, now visiting from Clearwater, Fla. — picked up items they could take home, such as soppressata, before making a nice house call.

“We’re going to do the seven fishes,” the woman said.  “My son-in-law is the executive chef over at Le Virtù, and my daughter is the pastry chef.  And he’s cooking tonight!”

Others had plans to visit friends and family on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, taking advantage of plenty of options in the various shops to present gifts to their hosts.

Watch & Listen LIVE