The time spent in Victor’s Cafe will surely be a unique memory for all who enter. This Italian restaurant found in South Philadelphia is not only a place for delicious food, but also the brilliant sounds of opera-trained singers who are none other than your waiters and waitresses.
Victor’s Cafe has been a family owned establishment
since 1918 where John DiStefano began his career by making the South Philly building into a gramophone shop. DiStefano, an Italian native, came to Philadelphia in 1908 in order to pursue his dreams of being involved within his field of passion – music.
His profound knowledge of music, vocalization,
and instruments gained him an outstanding position at the ever popular RCA recording studio in Philadelphia. There, DiStefano
recruited and signed many of the well-known opera singers of our time, including Mario Lanza.
During the prohibition period, DiStefano decided to turn his gramophone shop into the Victor Cafe. Today, the wives of DiStefano’s sons run the restaurant and even expanded the space in order to hold more dedicated customers.
Before dining, one may wish to take a look at the upstairs lounge area. This dark yet serene room is filled with Victorian-style furniture atop traditional hardwood floors. The room appears to be a work in progress. Its exposed brick walls have a vintage allure, displaying many eclectic photos. Musical instruments rest along the perimeter of the dining area and around the corner, a bar and large cabinet hold some of the best wines and spirits.
The main floor of the restaurant includes a full bar and large dining area where each table is filled with glistening white plates and delicate lamps for lighting. A magnificent amount of framed photos of opera singers are scattered around the entire dining room on top of deep maroon painted walls.
When dining, you will notice that every twenty minutes staff members will ring a bell and pronounce that they will sing a hand picked song of their choice.
“This tradition began when Mr. DiStefano’s only busboy rang a bell and sang an opera song for the entire Victor Cafe to hear in 1925,” said staff member Neal Darling.
Silence is required while these trained opera vocalists whole-heartedly sing an operatic piece. It will truly knock anyone out of their seat.
While browsing through the menu, many traditional Italian dishes appear, such as Veal Piccata, Veal Saltanbucca, Mushroom Ravioli and Caesar Salad. For dessert, warm chocolate cake dripping with chocolate sauce and ice cream is a perfect ending to the experience. Prices range from $5 to $8 for appetizers, $15 to $22 for entrees, and $7 to $8 for dessert – moderate prices for a breathtaking meal and musically inspiring experience.
Giavanna Ippolito can be reached at email@example.com.