Spaghetti and meatballs is the quintessential Italian-American comfort food. For many people, eating a plate full of noodles topped with tomato sauce (or “gravy” to some) and flavorful balls of ground meat brings back memories of homemade dinners with the family. And while the simple meal is far from fancy, when it’s done right, it’s hard to resist. The following Philadelphia restaurants offer their versions of the classic dish.

Pietro’s Coal Oven Pizza (Credit: Michelle Hein)

Pietro’s Coal Oven Pizzeria
1717 Walnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 735-8090

121-123 S St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 733-0675

Pietro’s is known for its coal oven pizza, but there’s also a great selection of salads, pasta and other hearty Italian-American comfort food. The mozzarella-stuffed beef and veal meatballs are a popular appetizer priced at $11.50, and the spaghetti and meatball dinner with a slightly sweet marinara sauce is a classic favorite. The “small” (still likely to have leftovers) is offered at $15, or you can order the dish family style to serve three to four people for $45. Pair it with the family-style Caesar salad for $32 for a traditional dinner that everyone will love.

Marabella Meatball Co.
1211 Walnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 238-1833

The Marabella family has been serving the Philadelphia and Jersey Shore areas for over 40 years now. The family’s Market East spot, Marabella Meatball Co., pays tribute to an Italian American staple – the meatball. The menu features a wide range of sandwiches, bowls and even meatball salads, but if you’re looking for a classic meal, order the pasta dinner. Priced at $9.25, you get your choice of two meatballs, pasta, sauce and crusty bread with locatelli cheese. The traditional order is obviously spaghetti with beef tomato or marinara and beef or beef-pork-veal meatballs, but feel free to get creative with options like mushroom marinara and chicken meatballs.

Ralph’s Italian Restaurant
760 S. 9th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 627-6011

It’s impossible to talk about Italian food in Philadelphia without including Ralph’s Italian Restaurant. Located in the heart of the Italian Market and with over 100 years in business, it’s America’s oldest Italian restaurant. Ralph serves up traditional Italian American food with plenty of old-school charm on the side. The meatballs are consistent favorites. They’re first baked and then cooked in red sauce (or gravy as Ralph’s calls it), to get that perfect texture of tender on the inside with a slight crunch on the outside. The tomato sauce is made with a hefty dose of caramelized garlic, giving it that famous flavor. Order the classic spaghetti and meatballs for $13.

Little Nonna's (Credit: Michelle Hein)

Little Nonna’s (Credit: Michelle Hein)

Little Nonna’s
1234 Locust St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 546-2100

Valerie Safran and Marcie Turney, the restaurateur pair that is largely responsible for the revitalization of the Midtown Village, impress again with Little Nonna’s. Reminiscent of meals made by your Italian grandmother, Little Nonna’s offers a menu of red-gravy style Italian American dishes with a few gourmet touches. The $16 spaghetti and meatballs is a standout favorite featuring beef, veal and pork meatballs with gooey Fontina cheese in the center. They’re served over noodles with a braised pork San Marzano marinara, a bit of basil and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Visit for “Sunday Gravy” to enjoy meatballs, housemade hot fennel sausage, braised shortrib and broccoli rabe in marinara. For $24, the Sunday gravy is served over the pasta of the day with the meat on the side.

Related: Top Italian Restaurants In Philadelphia

Pizzeria Stella
420 S. 2nd St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 320-8000

Pizzeria Stella is a Stephen Starr spot located at the corner of Lombard and 2nd Street in Society Hill. While the brick oven pizzas are the main draw, the upscale pizza shop boasts a variety of Italian dishes that are worth trying. You won’t spot “spaghetti and meatballs” on the menu, but you can make your own by ordering the pasta Pomodoro (spaghetti, tomato and basil) and the Polpette ($10 on the antipasti menu). Take note that the wood-roasted meatballs appeared in “Travel + Leisure Magazine” in 2014 on the list of the top meatballs in America. The meatballs are made from a mixture of beef, veal, pork, bread, ricotta and herbs and served in a San Marzano sauce with a little olive oil and grated parmesan.

Me N Mo Meatballs & More
214 South St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(267) 928-3262

Me No Mo is a relatively new addition to the Headhouse District on South Street, serving handrolled meatballs and housemade pasta in a family-friendly, homey environment. Choose from six to eight varieties of meatballs made fresh every day. Spicy pork, beef, lamb, chicken and veggie are served daily with specials like buffalo chicken rotating. For $8, you get four meatballs, homemade focaccia and your choice of sauce such as marinara, vodka and hot meat sauce. Make your meal into a classic spaghetti and meatballs by adding on homemade spaghetti for $5.

Related: Top Restaurants With Handmade Pasta in Philadelphia

Michelle Hein is the social media editor for a women’s fashion company in Bucks County by day and a self-proclaimed food and drink fanatic by night and weekend. She enjoys attending wine classes, trying new recipes in the kitchen and going to old favorites and new restaurants alike in the Bucks County and Philadelphia area. If the writing gig doesn’t pan out, she constantly dreams of owning her own bakery…perhaps connected to the restaurant/bar that her lawyer husband would love to open.
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