Bella Vista is a South Philadelphia neighborhood that spans Sixth to 11th streets from east to west, and South Street to Washington Avenue from north to south. Neighbors reside in the 19147 zip code.
The neighborhood is fully loaded with specialty coffee shops: Rally, which doubles as a coworking-esque membership space and hub for business meetings; Chapterhouse, a cavernous space filled with art; Shot Tower Coffee, for the well-executed latte; and Function Coffee Labs, where a former scientist brews up perfect cups of coffee and espresso shots like a chemist.
Breakfast and brunch are best defined by Sabrina’s, well-regarded for its cozy digs and “barking chihuaha” breakfast burrito, as well as Morning Glory – a longtime diner staple of Bella Vista featuring warm biscuits, plenty of vegetarian options, a no-nonsense attitude and piping-hot coffee served in metal mugs.
Of course, Italian is the specialty of the neighborhood, by way of the Italian Market. Ralph’s Italian is where the “red gravy” flows in abundance, and Santucci’s is where pizza pies are served as squares and with cheese beneath the sauce.
For more of a variety, Brauhaus Schmitz serves a hearty bratwurst-and-beer combo in its German beer hall, Percy Street Barbecue dishes out savory and sweet pork dishes with an indulgent mac and cheese, and Taqueria La Veracruzana ranks as one of the city’s most authentic taco joints – and, to boot, is a popular BYO destination.
Sweet tooths are lured in by the lingering sidewalk smells of Isgro’s, a multi-generation-spanning bakery with Italian cookies, cannolis and seasonal treats, or Anthony’s Italian Coffeehouse, which sells artisan chocolates and biscotti.
Bella Vista contains one of the city’s most popular attractions, Isaiah Zagar’s Magic Gardens – a walkthrough space of mosaic art that recalls more than 20 years of South Street beautification.
Nearby, as part of Palumbo Recreation Center, is a sprawling three-acre field with a basketball court, baseball field and more than enough open space for kids to let loose.
Historical sites include the Fleisher Art Memorial, a series of buildings that includes a basilica, and episcopal church housing frescos and an art school; plus, the row home of abolitionist Frances Ellen Watkins Harper.
Rounding out the attractions is the whole of the Italian Market itself, an evergreen attraction for residents and visitors alike. The Visitor’s Center has a photobook on display and can serve as a reference point for walking tours.
For kindergarten through eighth grade, public school students in the 19147 zip code may go to the George W. Nebinger School, located in Bella Vista, or the public-charter Christopher Columbus Charter School on the edge of Columbus Square in Hawthorne. Andrew Jackson School, Eliza B. Kirkbride School, Vare-Washington Elementary School and William M. Meredith Middle School are other nearby schools to the east and west of the neighborhood.
For grades nine through 12, local students attend Furness High School, Academy at Palumbo, just outside of the Italian Market, or the Creative and Performing Arts School on South Broad Street.
Bella Vista is filled to the brim with grocery options, starting with large markets such as Whole Foods and Acme Markets on South Street.
Yet, the name of the game in Bella Vista is specialty stores. Superior Pasta Company sells fresh, daily made pastas and sauces; DiBruno Bros. is host to some of the city’s finest cheeses; and Cardenas Vinegar & Oil stocks its shelves with all the balsamic and olive oil varieties a person could need.
Moreover, during warmer months, Ninth Street in the Italian Market is regularly overtaken by local vendors who sell produce streetside at affordable prices, often selling produce that might be hard to find at a grocery store. This, in addition to reliable Ninth Street meat and fish sellers Cappuccio’s and Darigo’s.
Beer is in abundance at the Bella Vista Beer Distributors warehouse, located across from beer cafe and shop Hawthorne’s on 11th Street. There’s also a liquor store on South Street.
For more recreational shopping, South Street houses a slew of novelty shops, as well as casual wear boutique P’s and Q’s and geek-culture haven Atomic City Comics.
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