America’s Oldest Italian Restaurant Makes The Best Meatballs In Philly | Legendary Eats

Taryn Varricchio: Plates
of meatballs beside twirls of spaghetti covered in marinara sauce are ingrained in South Philadelphia. And they’ve made this restaurant a landmark in the neighborhood. This is Ralph’s Italian Restaurant, and it’s been serving Philly’s best spaghetti and
meatballs for 120 years. Customer: If you like
traditional Italian red-gravy Sunday dinner, this is the place to come. Taryn: Back in the kitchen, chefs stay busy making
1,200 meatballs a week. The meatballs, set beside spaghetti, have been a staple at Ralph’s since the restaurant’s
very first menu, in 1900. Jimmy Rubino: I mean,
this is stuff that my great-grandparents brought over. My grandparents made them, my parents made them. I’d say about 95% of the
menu that you see now is still the original menu. Customer: It’s authentic South Philly. It’s red sauce. It’s
just good Italian food. Taryn: But not every
Italian restaurant in Philly does meatballs like Ralph’s. Other restaurants either
use just beef, just pork, just veal, or a mix of all three. But Jimmy sticks to two
meats that bring out a smooth and tender
texture in each meatball. Jimmy: A lot of people,
a lot of restaurants, a lot of people make their
meatballs with just ground beef. We use ground beef and ground pork. Pork for two reasons: fat, flavor. The fat in the pork kind of gives it, like, a velvety texture. And, obviously, pork meat itself makes it nice and lighter, as opposed to, like, almost like a round hamburger. Taryn: He adds small
cubes of wet Italian bread to help bind the meat together and a mix of salt, pepper, crumbled pecorino Romano cheese, dry herbs, and sautéed,
caramelized garlic. And then Jimmy uses about 4 ounces of meat and rolls each one by hand. The restaurant fries the meatballs rather than bakes them, so they get a crispier
coating on the outside while staying soft and
juicy on the inside. Jimmy: You have to test the oil, because if you put the meatballs in there while the oil’s still, like, not hot, it’ll absorb in like a sponge, and then you’ll end up
with oily meatballs. Taryn: Once the meatballs turn dark brown, they make their way to the plate next to a swirl of spaghetti and two ladles of red gravy. Customer: I’ve always
had a great meal here. I was here about two weeks ago with another buddy of mine who’d never been here, so there you go. Taryn: Look how big this meatball is. Really, though. My mom’s meatballs are not this big. Ooh. That’s a dense, dense meatball. It’s like what Jimmy was telling us, he uses the pork to give it
that silky, velvety texture. And it really is, it’s,
like, smoother and silkier, and not, like, packed,
compacted ground beef. You get kind of, like,
two different dimensions with those two meats. And it is incredibly flavorful. Customer: We’ve been coming
here for at least 45 years. Taryn: Ralph’s officially
became the oldest Italian restaurant in America continuously owned by the
founding family in 2012, when a restaurant in San Francisco closed. But it wasn’t without a
few bumps along the way. Jimmy: You’re talking about
depression, world wars, prohibition.
Taryn: Prohibition. Jimmy: And it’s funny because, going back when I was a kid, there were still customers alive that were alive then that remember my grandfather would serve
them wine in coffee cups ’cause you weren’t allowed
to serve alcohol then. Taryn: And those customers
have kept coming back. Along with a long list of celebrities, from former President Theodore Roosevelt and Frank Sinatra to Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran, who together famously left a $500 tip at the restaurant, to the loyal locals who
consider it a staple and after 120 years couldn’t imagine South Philly without it. Customer: This is certainly
a part of the city. Certainly a part of South Philadelphia. An iconic place on 9th
Street in the Italian Market.

100 thoughts on “America’s Oldest Italian Restaurant Makes The Best Meatballs In Philly | Legendary Eats

  1. so delicious~~
    but i hope healthy of Italian for corona

  2. I love my moms meatballs. Unfortunately I’ll never be able to have them again 😔 I miss my mom so much. Ugh. She passed away from cancer a little bit over a year ago, I have some videos about my mom on my channel. Please don’t ever take your parents for granted… who knew that meatballs would make me cry this afternoon lol

  3. Dear Americans, why are we here again?
    for the last time….spaghetti and meatballs….is simply NOT an Italian food!
    No one eats this dish in Italy!
    We eat spaghetti yes…we eat meat balls yes….but not togheter!

  4. Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.

  5. I think they pretty much gave away their whole recipe in this video 😁

    Now i can open my own meatball shop!

  6. I always stop watching right after you describe how the food tastes. You are just so bad at describing food.

  7. We didn't even see the host take a bite. She really needs to improve otherwise, you should just find some other person to host it.

  8. Let’s get this clear. Not a good way to start this by saying it is “ Italian “ food. This is NOT Italian Food. This is Italian American food. No Italian has ever seen spaghetti & meatballs in Italy. And yes I know what I am talking about. I lived in Italy for a year and on two separate occasions I backpacked Europe for 6 months each time ( including Italy ). I was also married to a Brazilian whose sister was married to an Italian. He hated coming to the states to experience our so called “ Italian “ food. I am also of Italian American heritage from off the boat grandfather and his siblings ( brother and 2 sisters ) With that said, this is probably great “ Italian American “ food. It looks really good.

  9. I know its his family… But spaghetti and meatballs weren't brought by Italians. They were made by Italians of course but meat wasn't abundant back home in Italy.

  10. Spaghetti and meatballs aren't even Italian. It's an American dish. There is no such dish that exists in Italy.

  11. You will never finde spaghetti with meat bolls in Itali! Nobady will eat this thing in italian restourant in europa.

  12. "If you like traditional Italian food, this is the place to come"

    spaghetti in meatballs not even traditional Italian food

  13. Hmmm I have watched a few of the episodes this woman has hosted, and I have yet to see her place any food in her mouth. I don’t trust anyone who has a food program, but you never see them eat. Suspicious 😒

  14. We never see Taryn putting the food in her mouth. And then her description is so rubbish. Awful presenter.

  15. i am convinced this woman doesnt actually eat the food at these "legendary eats" she showcases. ive never actually seen a vid of her where the food enters her mouth or shes chewing

  16. FYI:
    For those who haven't dined in ITALY,
    "Spaghetti and Meatballs" are strictly "American".
    Just like "Corned Beef and Cabbage" on St. Paddy's Day.

  17. I’m from south philly and I never been here. Drive past it all the time tho. This makes me want to make a reservation

  18. Another Italian legendary eats is at Bruno’s Little Italy somewhere in the west coast I think. I’m not the best with where locations are….

  19. my recipe is similar, i use fennel seeds.😎✅ i learned the recipe from my father who has passed on. lol i usually use enough fresh garlic to deplete the strategic garlic supply. like the vid shows, you must fry the meatballs in quality olive oil and the meatballs have to be made from pork and beef combine.

  20. Sorry but meatballs and spaghetti isnt Italian! (Also it’s extremely unhygienic to wear your ring while working with raw meat or even just cooking) not to be a hater but…

  21. Great dish – I don't care if they say its not classic Italian….it was inspired by the flavors of Italy.. . Pork and Beef – 50/50 combined also makes the best burger patti. Enjoy and salute!

  22. Meatballs are Italian, spaghetti Italian… Eating them on the same plate not so much. Anyway it is stuck-together pasta that upsets me.

  23. I'm really hungry. A lovely plate of meatball pasta! I can see why this place has been loved by so many people for so long. With soft meat and seasonings added, the tasteful meatballs were completed. It looks really good with tomato sauce. I really want to go here. My channel introduces and posts street food in Korea. Each country's food is interesting to reflect its unique culture. It is really fun to introduce delicious food with people from other countries.

  24. That's not traditional Italian…It's American-Italian Traditional food…We don't eat spaghetti and meatballs…It's American…Basta co ste falsità…it's fake… Nothing wrong abou it ..but it's not traditional Italian… Italians don't eat overcooked spaghetti and don't add ragu' on top of any pasta dish like that …It looks like canteen food to me…Food made for charity… Emergency food for homeless people…

  25. Traditional Italian pasta is mixed in the pot. You don't put the sauce on top. And meatballs are served as second course.

  26. Italians wouldn't eat this. This nonsense was concocted in homes of people from the 'hoods' of southern Italy who immigrated to the U.S.

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