10 Spectacular Wine Restaurants in Philadelphia

Wine-loving dining destinations in the City of Brotherly Love
10 Spectacular Wine Restaurants in Philadelphia
Panorama's custom wine-dispensing system serves 120 selections by the glass. (Panorama)
Mar 14, 2019

In Pennsylvania, strict liquor laws make it particularly challenging to build a wine program, especially one that stands among the best in the world. These 10 destinations defy the odds with Wine Spectator Restaurant Award–winning wine lists, enhanced by rich histories and well-executed cuisines. So the next time you find yourself in Philly, skip the plethora of BYOBs for superior wine experiences at these standout spots.

To check out more wine-and-food destinations around the world, see Wine Spectator’s nearly 3,800 Restaurant Award–winning picks, including the 100 Grand Award recipients worldwide that hold our highest honor.

Do you have a favorite you’d like to see on this list? Send your recommendations to restaurantawards@mshanken.com. We want to hear from you!

Barclay Prime
Barclay Prime is known for cuts like the 32-ounce, 35-day aged prime porterhouse.

A superior steak house in Stephen Starr’s home city
237 S. 18th St., Philadelphia, Pa.
(215) 732-7560
Open for dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 775
Inventory 5,000
Cuisine Chef Mark Twersky serves an updated take on steak-house cuisine, with plenty of seafood dishes and salads. The star of the menu, though, is the Barclay Prime Cheesesteak, an opulent homage to the city’s famous sandwich. Instead of basic sliced beef and Cheez Whiz, this version layers wagyu ribeye with foie gras, onions and truffled Cheez Whiz on a fresh sesame roll—and if you though it couldn’t get any better, the cheesesteak is served with a half-bottle of Gaston Chiquet Champagne.
Wine strengths Wine director Hai Tran is in charge of the wine list, which represents regions around the world but highlights California, France and Italy. While there are some value-driven picks, there are plenty of labels to splurge on from big names like Opus One and Ramonet.
New-age steak house Like the menu, the look of this steak house is far from traditional. French architect and designer India Mahdavi decorated the dining room, and the result is a lavish and highly modern space with crystal chandeliers, playful patterns and pastel banquettes.
Starr’s city Barclay Prime is part of Starr Restaurants, Stephen Starr’s Philadelphia-based group that includes 16 Restaurant Award winners across the country. Seven of them are located in the group’s home city, including Rittenhouse Square staple and Award of Excellence winner Parc, and Best of Award of Excellence winner Butcher & Singer.

Bistro Romano
Bistro Romano specializes in Italian dishes like lamb ragù.

Classic Italian dining since 1988
120 Lombard St., Philadelphia, Pa.
(215) 925-8880
Open for dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 750
Inventory 4,800
Wine strengths Organized by grape variety, the wine list is filled with diverse international selections that excel in Italy (especially Tuscany) as well as California. Overseeing the list is wine director Michael Granato, who owns the restaurant with his wife, Joette.
Cuisine Bistro Romano’s standout Italian wine selections complement chef Michael DeLone’s menu of classic Italian antipasti, pastas and main courses such as filet mignon and veal saltimbocca.
Romantic destination In addition to the exceptional wine program, the restaurant is known for its particularly cozy atmosphere. Dine by candlelight in the 18th-century space with exposed brick walls, set in Philly’s historic Society Hill neighborhood.
Knowledge-enhancing events For a deeper dive into wine, guests can participate in Bistro Romano’s many wine dinners and tastings. The restaurant also hosts a Cellar Club; members meet five times a year in the private events room to enjoy dinners with wine tastings and guest speakers.

Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group
Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse features a grand dining room with a 40-foot wine tower.

A wine-centric steak house in Center City
1426-28 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, Pa.
(215) 246-0533
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 1,500
Inventory 10,000
Wine strengths The wine program is strongest in California, Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Rhône, Italy, Australia and Spain. Wine director Scott Zoccolillo supplements the list with a page of personalized picks from each member of the sommelier team.
Cuisine Chef Sean Ford executes the menu of steak-house staples, plus some creative signature items like cheesesteak dumplings and salmon with crab hash and lobster-tomato jus.
Golden picks from the Golden State The Del Frisco’s brand is known for outstanding California offerings, and the Philadelphia location upholds this reputation with eight pages of California Cabernets. Enjoy an extensive selection of verticals like seven vintages of Araujo Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Eisele Vineyard and eight vintages of Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District Hillside Select, in addition to various large-format options.
Nationwide name Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group includes 12 Restaurant Award–winning locations of the steak house, including a Grand Award winner in New York City. Also in the Del Frisco’s family are 14 Restaurant Award–winning Barcelona Wine Bars and 21 Restaurant Award–winning outposts of Del Frisco's Grille.

La Famiglia Ristorante
La Famiglia Ristorante has been owned by the Sena family for three generations.

A family-owned Italian institution
8 S. Front St., Philadelphia, Pa.
(215) 922-2803
Open for lunch and dinner, Monday to Saturday

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 1,000
Inventory 15,000
Built on tradition Carlo “Papa” Sena opened La Famiglia Ristorante in 1976, after moving to Philadelphia from Naples, Italy. Today, the restaurant is owned and operated by the second and third generations of the Sena family.
Cuisine Chef and co-owner Luigi Sena carries on his father’s legacy of authentic Italian fare with house-made pastas (which are available in half or full portions) and entrées like the fish of the day filleted tableside and chicken involtini.
Wine strengths During its 40-plus years in business, the restaurant has built an enviable collection of Italian wines. Peruse aged gems like Gaja labels going back to the 1960s and Barolos from Giacomo Borgogno & Figli going back to the 1940s. Managed by Papa Sena’s son, wine director and co-owner Giuseppe Sena, the list also shines in California and Bordeaux.

Philip Gabriel Photography
At Lacroix at the Rittenhouse, dine with a view of one of the city’s busiest squares.

An elegant hotel-restaurant overlooking the park
The Rittenhouse Hotel, 210 W. Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, Pa.
(215) 790-2533
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 1,485
Inventory 7,520
High-end experience Set in a luxurious hotel in Rittenhouse Square, Lacroix creates an opulent experience with sweeping views of the park and features like afternoon tea service.
Cuisine Chef Jonathan Cichon matches the restaurant’s upscale feel with a regional American tasting menu of six courses for $115. Wine pairings are available for $90, with a reserve wine-pairing option for $60 more.
Wine strengths Run by sommelier Samantha Germani, the lengthy list shows strength in a range of regions, especially when it comes to France. Burgundy, Champagne, the Rhône, Bordeaux and the Loire stand out, as does California, Italy and Germany.
Immersive option A private chef’s table inside the kitchen puts guests at the heart of the action. Treat yourself and up to six guests to a custom tasting menu with wine pairings specifically selected by the sommelier team.

Panorama’s by-the-glass options let guests get a better taste of the extensive wine list.

Above and beyond your average wine bar
Penn’s View Inn Hotel
(215) 922-7800
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 700
Inventory 6,000
Wine strengths Wine director William Eccleston built a balanced collection of international wines, with particular strength in Piedmont, California, Tuscany and France.
Cuisine There’s plenty to pair with on chef Matthew Gentile’s menu of Italian favorites, from small bites and salads to pastas, pan-roasted meats and sharable plates.
By-the-glass bliss Panorama offers more than 150 wines by the glass, 120 of which are available on tap through a custom-built dispensing system that serves as the centerpiece of the dining room’s wine bar. There are also 28 flights to choose from, each composed of five 1.5-ounce pours.
Splurge-worthy supplement A designated reserve list presents higher-end picks from some of the world’s most renowned producers. Highlights include a five-vintage vertical of Pio Cesare Barolo going back to 1985 and benchmark French names like Château Margaux and Louis Jadot.

Vetri Cucina
Experience an ever-changing tasting menu in Vetri Cucina’s cozy dining room.

A customizable multi-course concept
1312 Spruce St., Philadelphia, Pa.
(215) 732-3478
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 500
Inventory 2,500
Cuisine After being welcomed with snacks and a cocktail or a glass of prosecco, guests work with their server to tailor the $165 tasting menu to their individual tastes. Chef Matt Buehler’s Italian menu is ever-changing, but expect starters like sweet onion crepe with Parmigiano-Reggiano and white truffle fondue, and pastas like maltagliati with pork ragù.
Major destination, intimate space Vetri Cucina has just 32 seats, but the concept recently expanded with a larger-scale version in Las Vegas. The second location opened in a sky-high space atop the Palms Casino Resort in November 2018.
Wine strengths Several of the restaurant’s seven sommeliers are regularly present in the restaurant, a particularly impressive feature considering the intimate dining room. The experts guide guests through wine director Bobby Domenick’s Italian-focused list. Wine pairings are available for an additional $135 per person and change on a daily basis to complement the tasting menu.
Seasoned leader Co-owner Marc Vetri is a prominent local chef and restaurateur who was born in Philadelphia and trained in Italy, opening his eponymous restaurant in 1998. Vetri is also the man behind Best of Award of Excellence winner Osteria Philadelphia, which offers a wine list of 400 mostly Italian selections.

Gran Caffe L’Aquila
Discover authentic Italian dishes including house-made pastas at Gran Caffe L’Aquila.

A historic Italian café gets a second life in the States
1716 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, Pa.
(215) 568-5600
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 150
Inventory 2,000
Wine strengths Co-owner Riccardo Longo also serves as wine director, overseeing the all-Italian program. The inexpensive wine list is an excellent source for values, with most bottles priced at under $100 and dozens under $50.
Cuisine The restaurant spotlights a particular Italian city each week, supplementing the traditional menu with specialties from the region. A Veneto-focused menu, for example, included beef carpaccio (a dish that originated in Venice) and a specialty of calf’s liver in wine sauce, along with wine picks from the region.
Array of authentic eats The full menu and wine list are available in the dining room on the second floor of the bi-level concept. Downstairs, you’ll find a gelato bar, coffee roaster and a wine bar serving small plates and at least one wine by the glass from all 20 regions of Italy.
Reincarnate concept The original Gran Caffe L’Aquila was located in central L’Aquila, Abruzzo, where it was destroyed by a major earthquake in 2009. On a culinary tour of Italy, Longo met the owners of the original café (Stefano Biasini and Michele Morelli), and they teamed up to bring the concept to Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square.

Andy Kahl
At R2L, guests are wowed by chef Daniel Stern’s cuisine as well as the restaurant’s panoramic views.

Fine wines and unparalleled views
50 S. 16th St., Philadelphia, Pa.
(215) 564-5337
Open for dinner, daily

Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 135
Inventory 1,350
Wine strengths Wine director Dana Madigan presents a well-balanced collection of the world’s top wine regions, with an emphasis on California and France.
Cuisine Daniel Stern trained with powerhouse chefs like Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Daniel Boulud before helming the kitchen at R2L. Stern’s American menu has something for everyone, from raw seafood to hearty mains like a duo of braised short rib and filet mignon, to vegan and vegetarian options.
Top notch, sky high The dining room sits 500 feet above ground, on the 37th floor of Two Liberty Place. That means uninterrupted views of the city that stretch for miles, on display through the restaurant’s wraparound windows.
Cause for celebration With upscale fare and a show-stopping setting, R2L makes for an ideal special-occasion spot. The restaurant can accommodate events for up to 150 guests, but with more than two dozen Champagnes on the wine list, you can turn any dinner into a celebration.

Bistro Perrier delivers an excellent dining experience while training the next generation of wine experts.

When classroom and dining room unite
Walnut Hill College, 4207 Walnut St., Philadelphia, Pa.
(215) 222-4200
Open for lunch and dinner, Tuesday to Saturday

Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 100
Inventory 790
Educational aspect The concept is part of Walnut Hill College, an institution specializing in culinary arts and restaurant and hotel management. Bistro Perrier is a key part of the coursework, allowing students to train in a professional restaurant.
Cuisine Led by executive chef Todd Braley, the restaurant offers classic French cuisine featuring tableside service. Menu items include starters like tartelette croque-madame and mains like steak frites and cassoulet with duck confit and garlic sausage.
Wine strengths Available throughout the Restaurant School ventures, instructor Philippe McCartney’s wine list excels in France, Italy and California. The list is presented on an iPad and used as a learning tool in various on-site wine courses, and by the student-run wine club, whose members write the tasting notes accompanying each selection.
Advantageous pricing McCartney aims to keep wine prices low to give students more opportunities to practice their wine-service skills. Most labels on the inexpensive list are under $50, and additional discounted bottles are often available on a designated “Chairman’s Selections” list.

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