Deep in the heart of South Philadelphia’s Passyunk Avenue, alongside the newer, trendier establishments, is Marra’s. It’s an old school, Italian restaurant in the tradition of Ralph’s, Villa di Roma and Dante and Luigi’s. Many visitors and celebrities from out of town have dined here through the years.
Perhaps its claim to fame is that Marra’s has been in business and serving pizza since 1927. That’s before any current Philadelphia restaurant (including Tacconelli’s, which is older but did not start making pizza until the 1940s). Marra’s has a couple of dining areas, with the front dining room comprised of booths. There’s a big menu of veal, pasta, shrimp and chicken dishes along with pizza. In addition to the eleven set pizza selections, you can also choose your own toppings à la carte. Pizza, which is cooked in a brick oven, can be ordered in three sizes: “personal” (10 inches), “small” (14 inches) or “extra large” (18 inches)
The extra large Chicken Supremo pizza, topped with grilled chicken and prosciutto, is certainly enough for two with leftovers. It has a pretty thick and heartier crust, though it was not super crunchy. The pizza had ample prosciutto, which is probably the primary flavor. The tomato sauce was not overwhelming and did not particularly stand out, but the cheese was quite good. There was a slightly uneven distribution of the toppings, with almost all the prosciutto in middle and chicken on edge. Regardless, the prosciutto was clearly of excellent quality.
Overall, Marra’s is a South Philadelphia Italian institution worth visiting, though next time, I’d like to sample the pasta to go along with the pizza. If you go, try multiple dishes and plan on bringing home leftovers.
- 1734 E. Passyunk Ave., Philadelphia
- In a nutshell: Classic, old school Italian restaurant, serving oldest pizza in Philadelphia.