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The event called Philadelphia’s largest block party returned this weekend after a couple of years off. Along with bands playing music, games, and performances, dozens of vendors line South 9th Street for the annual Italian Market Festival, which has been a springtime tradition since the 1970s.
Stands stretch from Wharton to Fitzwater streets, including a collection of artists and artisans offering interesting and unique paintings, sculptures, jewelry, and other goods. But the most popular tables were the ones selling food and drink.
Saturday’s hot weather didn’t keep the crowds from showing up, and there’s more fun planned for Sunday, when the fest runs 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Planning to go or just want to experience it vicariously?
From South Philly Italian classics to Mexican favorites to easy-eating sweets and snacks, here’s a selection of 10 of the best things to eat and drink at the festival.
Kettle corn from Voodoo
Stirred in an actual giant black pot, the freshly popped kettle corn comes in expected flavors like caramel and cheddar, or more unusual options like cherry raspberry. The stall is on 9th Street north of Montrose, where big bags go for $7.
Cannuli’s roast pork sandwich
It’s a Philadelphia tradition, prepared by a butcher that specializes in the meat: this roast pork sandwich layered with provolone and broccoli rabe comes highly recommended. Sandwiches are $7 outside the shop between Montrose and Carpenter.
Peroni from Villa di Roma
What better way to celebrate than with an Italian beer? Across the street from Cannuli’s, staff at one of South Philadelphia’s most iconic red gravy dining rooms proffer rows of the bottled lager for $6 a pop.
Ravioli from Talluto’s
At the corner of 9th and Carpenter is one of the best fresh pasta makers in the city. On regular days, the ravioli wait in neat rows in the freezer, but for the festival they were ready to eat, a bowlful of plump cheese rounds topped with sauce for $8.50. Add a meatball or two for a little extra.
Pina Colada from Los Gallos
Directly across from the big music stage on Washington Avenue, find this eye-catching drink. Pina colada is poured inside a hollowed out pineapple, then topped with whipped cream and adorned with pineapple slices, tiny umbrellas, and flags. Try one for $15, or $20 with booze.
Mango on a stick at Alma del Mar
Stroll through the crowds and before too long you’re sure to see bright orange fruits bobbing by on a stick. It’s the popular Latin American street food, mango on a stick. This Mexican restaurant just south of Carpenter sells them for $5, or $6 if you want it grilled and sprinkled with chile spice.
Cannoli from Termini Bros
This family-owned bakery, known for its cannoli for over a century, is headquartered on 8th Street, but they always come a block over for the market. Set up between Carpenter and Kimball streets, they offer the crisp pastry shell filled with sweet ricotta and chocolate chips for $5 each.
Cappuccio’s hot sausage sandwich
When a butchery known for its sausages offers to cook them for you, don’t turn down the change. At a stall on the corner of Kimball, hot Italian style links are browned to perfection, then laid with peppers and onions in a soft roll for $10 a pop.
Fishtown Iced Tea
The folks who ran with this Philly take on Long Island Iced Tea and decided to put it in cans came down from Fishtown to introduce the cocktail that includes vodka, rum, tequila, and triple sec. Bonus: At the table near 9th and Ellsworth, you’ll find the drink offered in its original form — the soon-to-disappear Arctic Splash cartons ($10).
Cannoli cookie from Small Oven Bake Shop
Coming over from 22nd and Washington is this newish bakery, which has been providing all kinds of sweets for about three years. Exclusively for the festival, bakers created a cannoli cookie, which you can find just south of Ellsworth Street for $5 each,