Everyone has a favorite specialty food, from lox and bagels to octopus – somewhere, someone craves it. Specialty foods have become so ubiquitous in American culture that there is even a Specialty Food Association. While some specialty foods are related to ethnic and cultural tastes, others are just new — new products or new food and flavor combinations. No matter what preference a consumer may have when it comes to specialty foods, there are many retail specialty foods stores in the Philadelphia area.

Di Bruno Brothers
1730 Chestnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 665-9220

Located in Rittenhouse Square, Di Bruno Brothers has been in business since 1939, when Joe and Danny Di Bruno opened the family-run Italian market. Since that time, this market has become a household name for lovers of Italian gourmet and specialty foods. From bella di cerignola olive medley to Di Bruno Brothers White Truffle Cream, the business also carries balsamic vinegar, artisan cookies and other sought-after items.

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Essene Market & Cafe
719 S. 4th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 922-1146

Essene Market & Cafe has been around for almost 40 years. Specializing in foods without artificial ingredients or preservatives, the store works with local organic farmers to bring in the best produce available in the area. In addition to the market, there is a cafe and a bakery. Specializing in organic, vegan and macrobiotic foods, many of the specialty items are provided by Awesome Foods. Of the specialty items offered, the store stocks sea vegetables such as Mitoku Hidaka Kombu, Japanese boshu wild hijiki, Japanese ise wild arame and other items, such as shiitake mushrooms, umeboshi paste and plums.

Reading Terminal Market
51 N. Second St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 922-2317

Reading Terminal Market is a gourmet and specialty food paradise. From Amish delicacies, to meats, seafood and a variety of ethnic foods, the market is not only a great place to shop, it is an historic experience. Among its best-known merchants are 4th Street Cookies and the Termini Bakery, Original Turkey Stand, Salumeria, the Dutch Eating Place, Beck’s Cajun Cafe and others. Specialty food stores include the Herbiary, The Head Nut, Jonathan Best Specialty Foods and Chocolate By Mueller. Check the website for more information on its specialty food stores at the market.

Vesper Bros. Foods
1 Pennsylvania Ave.
Wayne, PA 19807
(484) 410-4679

For almost 40 years, twin brothers Bill and John Vesper have operated Vesper Bros. Foods. Growing up in a large family that enjoyed foods made from quality products, the business continues that tradition through its line of products. Among some of the favorites are locally grown and produced marinated mushrooms, farfalle and a line of tomato sauces. All products are made from natural ingredients. Check the website for specialty recipes and locations where Vesper Bros. Foods products are sold.

Claudio Specialty Foods
924-26 S. Ninth St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 627-1873

The Claudio family has been in the specialty gourmet food product wholesale and retail business for more than 60 years. The company was founded in the 1950s and has become famous, both locally and internationally — the Claudio family was even featured in an issue of the National Geographic Magazine! From Italian dry sausage with black peppercorns to signature cheeses and balsamic and wine vinegars, the store also carries specialty olive oils, pasta items and artisan meats.

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Jeffrey B. Roth, has won numerous state and national news and feature-writing awards during his career. A well-known crime writer, investigative reporter and a feature writer, Roth writes for a number of magazines and newspapers. Listed in the Locus Index of SciFi and Fantasy authors, Roth is the author of a number of published short stories and poetry. His work can be found on Examiner.com.