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But when it comes to Philly's most iconic foods, the pride in our old traditions still runs deep.
True, I've spent almost two decades here mostly touting the cosmopolitan dining scene that we've become with star chefs, BYOBs, gastropubs, and hot restaurant neighborhoods like Fishtown and East Passyunk.
But the proud Italian American tradition, steeped in the "red gravy" pots of South Philly since the 1800s, remains part of our DNA.
Two of the country's oldest Italian restaurants - Ralph's and Dante & Luigi's - exude genuine Old World charm. Head to the Italian Market for the De Luca family's Villa di Roma (936 S. Eighth St.), the luncheonette where on Fridays in the fall you may catch Temple University football coaches eating lucky bowls of scrippelle soup and gnocchi with braciola for their weekly pregame ritual meal.
I've got straight-up advice on the still-genuine spots that make Philadelphia a one-of-a-kind food destination.
Cheese preferences vary, but I'm a provolone-loving evangelist for the #Never Whiz movement.For a 21st-century-quality upgrade, visit Sp Ot Gourmet Burgers (2821 W.Girard Ave.) in Brewerytown, where owner Josh Kim butchers his own meat, works the griddle like a master, and the steak has a good, long savor. Oregon Ave., South Philly) and its salt-flecked rolls are still legit, though worldwide expansion has scuffed some of its luster. neon glow of the titans at Ninth and Passyunk, a recent revisit made my choice clear: Geno's (1219 S.Only inferior beef needs the salty flow of liquid cheez. Snyder Ave.) in deep South Philly remains my ideal stop for a hefty Italian-style steak with spinach and sharp provolone, or the "bruschetta" topped with chopped tomatoes and basil.(The fresh chicken steak there streaked with red gravy is an excellent "healthy" alternative).
My current champ is Pastificio Deli (1528 Packer Ave., a mile north of the Wells Fargo Center), where imported meats are carefully layered with sharp provolone and just the right amount of shredded veggies for a zesty signature sandwich with balance and bite.