Walk on by..... After a so so meal a few months ago following a Phillies game, I figured we would give Ralph's another shot. It was a cold night and we found parking right out front,so I thought "why not". Ralph's has a "Vito Corleon" sort of vibe with the tile walls and intiment atmosphere, that you don't mind the rude greeter who always looks like he has more important things going on. This is strictly a "red gravy" place which is fine, but Olive Garden does a much better job at half the cost. The wine servings are an insult (maybe 3 onces). The non-pasta dishes are unimaginative, and desultry. Only conventioneers from Indianapolis would find this gruel acceptable. Serving sizes were ample though, and the side pasta were homemade, and perfectly "aldente". Stick with the basics (Spaghetti, Ravioli, maybe Veal Parm) and at least you'll leave full. I would have provided another star if the restaurant at least "acted" like they were glad to host you. I don't expect royalty treatment, but the dis-interest is evident. Too bad, as the location has charm, but I would recommend you look at Kristian's or Ansill in South Philly for decent Italian, and Ostera downtown for great.......
Sorry we took out of town guess there..
We met out-of-towners at Ralph's on Sept 20th, and while the place itself is quite lovely and old-fashioned, the waitstaff is rather uncaring, and the food, at best, is mediocre. One entree was sent out in error, and
the specials were really anything but that. There are many other spots in Philly to have a great dinner. Try
Tre Scalini over on Passyunk - we wil not be recommending Ralph's to anyone.
The best veal parmigiana in Philly - business traveller from San Francisco. I've been to Philadelphia three times for business and each time I have eaten at Ralph's. I love their veal parmigiana with the spagetti. I look forward to going to Philly and part of the excitement of going is to eat at Ralphs. I haven't tried anything else, I've always ordered the Veal and cannoli for dessert. You get two large pieces of veal (breaded) and smothered with their red sauce. You will be full leaving the restaurant and have leftover. I watch my carb in take but when I'm in Philly, I treat myself and indulge on the carb at Ralph's. I was introduced to Ralph's by a local initially and now has become one of my favorite places to eat. Traveling frequently for business and knowing that you have a restaurant to look forward to, makes the destination much more disireable. Love the atmosphere, not pretentious at all, quite intimate and make sure you bring cash. The last time I was there, I've actually called and placed an order to go, so the conscierge from my hotel drove me to the restaurant to pick up my order. I was a bit tired that evening and wanted to eat in my hotel room. I just could not leave Philly without eating the Veal parm at Ralph's.
Ralph's is not the place for you if you want your butt kissed by the wait staff, or if you want any sort of foam on your food. It is probably not the place for you if your next stop is a George Michael concert. If you want veal, pasta, chicken etc. done "right" then you should check it out. Yeah, parking is not easy, and it's noisy and cramped inside. This ain't suburbia with carefully pre-planned shopping plazas with just the right amount of parking for the Maca-freaking-roni Grill. If you can't park in the city take a cab. Easy.
As far as service goes, I've seen the staff at Ralph's take orders "off the menu" on numerous occasions. They try to accomodate everyone, as far as I can tell, but they are not obsequious about it.
Been there, done it, won't go back.
Prior to the George Michael concert, my partner and our two best friends went to Ralph's to what we expected was going to be a culinary treat in South Philadelphia. Very wrong. Approaching the restaurant we saw a middle aged man standing near the front door eying us suspiciously. As we opened the door he said from behind "Can I help you fellas?" Yes, you can help - we're here to rob the joint, isn't that obvious? But in keeping my cool I said that we had a reservation. If you've been here before you know that the downstairs is small - and there were three tables of equal size that had a "reserve" plaque on each. After looking over his reservation list he said that we were to sit "over there" and gesture to a general spot on the floor not to any particular table. I asked him which one and he said again "over there" (walking away from his small podium would not have made him waste any breath and the gesture of escorting us to the table "over there" would have won him some major Scout badges).
In short - three of us ordered the escargot which were tough and tasteless sitting in a cold pond of butter with bitter minced burnt garlic with some taste of additional bitter I can only describe as anise. It was so awful that you couldn't sop it up with bread as one usuasally does with this type of sauce with joy. My partner and I both had the veal marsala which were tough junks of veal floating in at least two sticks of butter. His glass of white house wine was no larger than a thimble. Bill was $185.00 before tip which we thought was completely outrageous. Sean our server was very good though and we wish him well. As we were leaving the same man who "greeted" us initially saw us leave and did not even had the decency to bid us a nice evening, for dumping $185, just kinda looked away. I would have settled for,"Hey, 'fellas', thanks for patronizing our mediocre restaurant in these lean economical times, especially when there are far better ones in South Philly."
My favorite restaurant in the world.. Currently residing in Southern California, I don't have access to what anyone in South Philadelphia would consider to be Real Italian Food. As a consequence, I literally have dreams of Ralph's ravioli, gnocchi, mussels in red sauce, and everything else on their simple, classic, amazing menu. The dreams turn out to be nightmares when I wake up 3,000 miles from 9th and Catherine. Ok, seriously: the food here is absolutely incredible. I've personally never had a single complaint about the service, but then again, I'm from here. If you're looking for a waiter/waitress with "flair" who is going to kiss up to you (to your face at least), go to TGI Friday's. The staff at Ralph's does what it needs to (ie: takes your order, gets it right, brings you the bill), and the food speaks for itself. If you go into Ralph's with a certain respect for the establishment, you will have a 5-star dining experience. Tip - request to sit upstairs. In the Summer, when they open the windows to the street, the combination of the food and the local sounds is as authentic an experience as you'll have in any American city.
Avoid this restaurant if you are an Asian Male w/Italian Female.
Inappropriate behavior. I had been to this restaurant several times, being of Italian descent I found the food excellent. One Sunday evening, I brought a physician friend of mine, who happens to be Asian for dessert a perhaps a cappucino. We had just finished a meal in another restaurant. I had talked to him several times about how wonderful Ralph's was, and well, their behavior was inexcusable.
The waiters walked back and forth as if they did not know what to do with themselves and finally set a place for us. Prior to this, I had always had "on the spot service". There were clearly empty tables and an hour before closing. As we sat down, I said "we are here for dessert". The waiter just looked at me and said, "We don't do that and turned us away."
I have never been so embarrassed of my own culture in my life. SHAME on them. What century are we living in? I am interested in medicine as a career and this is where my own kind left me. They have lost a customer and the many recommendations I have given them. I have never been treated as such in an Asian restaurant when dining out with him.
The Reviews Were Right.
I checked the reviews on Ralph's before our "ladies night" group made reservations and was concerned when I read the negative comments. I decided to give it a try anyway because, after all, it was Ralph's! Everyone knows Ralph's--it's a South Philly landmark! Well, Ralph's is still riding high on its former reputation as far as I'm concerned. The waiters are unfriendly, impatient, snippy and inefficient. And to add insult to injury, they added a 21% tip due to our large group. We had to ask for bread (which wasn't that great), pour our own waters from the tacky pitcher on the table, send back 3 orders that were wrong, pick the anchovies out of our salad when we told hm no anchovies and ask him if we could order dessert.. Then the meals arrived and they were very disappointing. No one was raving and my group of friends are "foodies" and generally rave when the food is good. Their veal/eggplant/proscuitto/mozzarella "house specialty" arrived smothered in red sauce which made me wonder what they were trying to hide. There was no proscuitto and the veal was tasteless. I enjoyed the side of spaghetti with their fine red sauce. Several others ordered the "special" which was chicken picante with shrimp. When the entrees arrived, there were scallops on the plate instead of shrimp. The chicken was dripping in butter and very rich. And $23 for a chicken "special"? Give me a break. I will say that their homemade gnocchi was very good.
Beware...it is so loud that you have to shout to speak to your tablemates, they will only do one check for the entire table, parking is an absolute nightmare, and they only take cash. It's very expensive for what you get and what you have to go through to get it! I say forget Ralph's and go to Villa di Roma on 9th Street in the heart of the Italian Market. Great food, nice service, affordable prices. Now THAT'S Italian!
Great So. Philly experience. Ok, this was our first visit to Ralph's but not to Italian restaurants in So. Philly. We had a great time. The food was great. I mean, what you'd expect from a small italian rest. We did have a reservation, and we were directed to the bar, past several waiting groups, and told that "Ron" knew we were there, and would be with us shortly. After maybe, 15 minutes we were taken to the third floor, much quieter and not quite as crowded, where Ron waited on us as well as at any fine restaurant. He was extremely attentive, but not overbearing. He was also accomadating and probably made our evening as nice as it was. He just seemed to arrive when we needed him. And that's probably after climbing 2 flights of stairs. I would definitely return to give another visitor a real So. Philly experience.
A must at least one time. Ralph?s is must place to eat at least once. ?It is what it is? as far as food, location, and service. Being a family run restaurant and staffed by East coast attitude, I can?t see how any complaints of the service matter. It is what it is and probably does very well because customers accept the little things like simple bread, less than warm service (which seems to be a trait of East coast business anyway), and the possibility of a mediocre dish served. The location is fine for me since we walk there or would take a cab. It?s the city, if you have to find a place to park get over it. I had a seafood linguini dish and loved it. The broth from the seafood mixed with the sauce and noodles was fabulous. The shrimp were slightly overdone but not bad. I had the rest of my wife?s eggplant veal dish. It was veal wrapped in parmesan crusted eggplant. The eggplant was pretty soggy and the veal was slightly dry. I am not an aficionado on veal or eggplant so I am not sure how it should be. My opinion is that the taste was good but not ?wow?. The spaghetti was great. Good sauce. They do not make their own pasta, only gnocchi is made fresh, but still good. Had the gnocchi and is very good. My stomach does not agree with their veal. I am 2 for 2 with veal resulting in multiple trips to the bathroom for a couple days. However, they are apparently known for their fresh veal dishes. Glad we went but may look for other places to try next time. However, there is a feeling of connection with the family after eating there a couple times.
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