Philadelphia’s Italian Market (or, My plot to generate as many visits to this site as Jeremy did with his Liz Phair post)

One of my favorite weekend rituals is a Saturday morning trip to Philadelphia’s Italian Market. This outdoor market is the oldest of its kind in the country, having been started out of necessity by the large Italian immigrant population that settled here in the late 1800s. The market runs along 9th Street in South Philly, and houses a wide variety of different types of vendors, from fruits and vegetables to meats and seafood to spices and wholesale goods. There are a number of Italian specialty stores that make things like handmade pastas and crostini, and marinated versions of everything from cheese to olives to lemons. I have been told that the market is really no different now than it ever was. I find this somewhat hard to believe, given the preponderance of stalls selling things like sparkly socks, cheap handbags and other dollar store type items. But still. It’s fun, and I like it, and it’s only a few blocks from our house.

This past weekend, right as the snow was beginning to fall (a storm that ultimately left us with 12 inches of snow, most of which is already long gone) Farrell joined William and me for a trip out to the market to shop and take pictures. Although I don’t have a tremendous amount to write about at the moment, I find myself with lots of pictures to share. Hence, another photo essay. Please bear with me until I scare up an interesting topic to write about (or a ghost writer — any takers?).

fire hazard

This view is looking north on 9th Street. The vendors start fires every morning in the winter. There are apparently very loose criteria for what constitutes allowable burning material. There is often a lot of really thick black smoke billowing from the trash cans. The fires can get pretty big. In fact, just this past weekend I singed the fur on the hood of my coat while trying to navigate past one of the barrells.

street scene

One of the many murals in Philadelphia. Frank Rizzo, depicted here, started off his career in politics as the police commissioner and later served two terms as mayor in the 1970s. He was notorious for racist and violent behavior and was eventually charged for authorizing and participating in police brutality. But since he got a mural, he must have been okay, right?

eat your veggies please

Very cheap veggies, weighed out for you old-school style by the vendors with scales like this:


I would like to buy one but I don’t think they are for sale.

meat market

This meat market sells everything. The best thing about it though is the four generations of guys working together inside. The oldest is at least 90, and the 7-year-old youngest member of the clan is super cute, despite his blood-and-entrail-soaked apron.

Just a few more:


I like this cheese store even though it gets really busy on the weekend. It smells pretty intense in there, as you might imagine. There are massive pieces of cheese, like the ones below, which could double for punching bags. That’s me standing behind a king-sized chunk of fromage.

OK, so even though I supposedly have nothing to say, those of you who know me probably are not surprised to witness the length of this post. So I will wrap it up.

For dinner when we got home, I made fresh salmon sauteed in olive oil, garlic, lemon zest, Italian parsley and caper berries with a generous amount of white wine. I served that atop a simple sauce of finely chopped roma tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts, minced garlic and white wine, layered with braised spinach. My inspiration for this was the purchase of a pound of handmade linguini purchased at Talluto’s, which demanded a respectable sauce.

saturday night dinner

And since my 15-month-old son was such a good helper in the shopping, planning, and preparation of this meal, I have to acknowledge him in my closing photo:
cute guy

Until next time–

12 responses to “Philadelphia’s Italian Market (or, My plot to generate as many visits to this site as Jeremy did with his Liz Phair post)”

  1. Bryan Waterman says:

    i love your photos, trixie, and your neighborhood too. but most of all i love that little kid in the last shot. what a sweetheart.

  2. Jeremy Zitter says:

    trixie, one of my favorite days in Philly was our walk with William down to the market for lunch and Italian ices (or whatever they call it… water ice?)… I can’t wait ’til next time.

  3. trixie says:

    Me too Jeremy–I loved that day.
    Come visit again soon.

  4. Liz bird says:

    yes the boy…god that Boy!!! anyhow I thought to myself, Of course miss Rebecca, you have always been a shutterbug and these shots remind me what an awsome city you live in. So alive, worth walking around in. PLEASE give that rascal a smooch for me. miss yoo

  5. Colleen O says:

    I navigated here from the WhatIMadeforDinner blog. Funny. I am Italian and grew up in Trenton and never went to the Philly market, although I’ve been to Philly many times. Next time I’m in the area, I’ll make a point of checking it out. Thanks for the info!

    My Napolitan grandmother would’ve loved this market, although she very well may have been. There were certain rules in my family. For example, if she had gone to the cheese shop, she would’ve bought hunks of parmesan and brought them home for me to grate for her. There’s something gratifying about grating your own cheese.

  6. Matt C says:

    We leave on Thursday for Rome and your pics and descriptions got us salivating in advance. Thanks. And could your boy BE any cuter? Jeebus!

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  8. Shar says:

    Who are you people with your beautiful Italian sauces, your mexican holiday meals, all acquaintances of adriana with the forbidden rice recipes? I had a microwaved quorn pattie for dinner, last night indian takeout, night before restaurant, night before chinese takeout. Let me in to your world..

  9. adf3 says:

    You should learn the facts before you make ignorant bigoted comments about Mayor Rizzo. You wouldn’t have the guts to critiicize John F. (300 murders and counting) Street.

  10. Tim Wager says:

    I quote: “He was notorious for racist and violent behavior and was eventually charged for authorizing and participating in police brutality.”

    Those don’t seem to be ‘biogted comments’ to my eye. Those are statements of fact. He had a reputation for being a racist (note the difference between saying he ‘was notorious’ for racist behavior and saying ‘he was a racist’). In 1979 he was charged in US District Court with having committed or condoned acts of police brutality. Read about it here. The charges were eventually dropped, but to say that he had a reputation for being violent and racist is to state fact.

    Also, if you want to dispel ignorance about Mayor Rizzo, you should point or link to the facts you want the author and others to learn. Please don’t leave us hanging.

  11. trixie says:

    thanks tim!
    adf3: for the record, i am not a fan of mayor street either.
    peace out.

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