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Victor Cafe, The DiStefano Family's Operatic Italian Classic in Newbold - Open Since 1933

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While the food was reliable and capable and decent...But the service and the singing waitstaff (seriously, they sing operatic arias, etc) is what makes this place. The Victor Cafe. Had a blast there last year with friends.

You'll be doing yourself a favor if you *don't* turn up your speakers and click on their website, which features a Valentine's Day menu (with fake wine) and blaring - and I mean blaring - opera. Don't succumb to the temptation and click on the link in my previous sentence.

post-2-0-85578400-1425846933_thumb.png <--- This is fake wine.

However, Victor's Cafe does feature a $25, 3-course, prix-fixe menu - somewhat limited in scope and portion (3 clams?), but still:

post-2-0-83365500-1425847014_thumb.png <--- This is over $10 less expensive than Restaurant Week.

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You'll be doing yourself a favor if you *don't* turn up your speakers and click on their website, which features a Valentine's Day menu (with fake wine) and blaring - and I mean blaring - opera. Don't succumb to the temptation and click on the link in my previous sentence.

You go to the Victor Cafe completely for the experience.  The food is fine but it is not what you'll remember.  It is for Mario Lanza what the Brickskellar was for beer (and better maintained).  Victor's is as Philadelphia as Geno's, Pat's or Jim's.

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I did not know what to expect, but I had a pleasant evening at this establishment. I agree the food is not  memorable, but as far as the entertainment, that is a completely different story.  I was looking for a spot to celebrate my nephew's birthday, and he loves chicken parm. I wish there was a way to look up restaurants that serve the best chicken parm in Philly. Perhaps there is, but I took a gamble and looked up old Italian restos in Philly, and Victor Cafe popped up.  I proceeded to  make a reservation on open table, and the earliest table for a Saturday evening was 8:45. I took it.

I was worried traveling with two teenage boys, they would be antsy in waiting for out late reservation. The only reservation that was had by the older sibling was questioning whether this  spot was gonna deliver. We pulled into the neighborhood, and it seemed to me that time had stood still. I imagine in the years Victor Cafe has been serving the people of Philadelphia hasn't changed much in terms of aesthetic, and that was comforting. We walked in and immediately were serenaded by an aria performed by one of the waitstaff. I knew this evening, however the caliber of the food, was going to be memorable. 

We were instructed to wait in the lounge area until we were called to our table.  The upstairs is the perfect setting for groups to gather while waiting for their table, or ideal  to transition to engage in conversation while sipping  after dinner drinks. The decor , and vibe of the  lounge was comfortable and set off with old world lithographs along with wax tapers lit to ignite a  dark, sexy ambiance. 

We were sat on the upper level of the converted townhouse. The setting felt as though I was in an old friend's dining room. It felt comfortable , and familiar. Overall as mentioned in previous threads, the food is by no means extraordinary, but it was good. My nephews were impressed by the bread service. Warm bread served with olive oil. In their defense, they do not get out much. I try my best to take them to upscale eateries to expand their appreciation for dining at all levels, and foster good etiquette. Besides they would appreciate any place I would take them to in all honesty, as long as they were spending time with their Auntie. I am lucky, I know, back to the review.  We started with friend smelts that were accompanied with tangy marinara sauce, followed by clams casino. The clams were a hit. Medium sized clams topped with a stuffing made of butter bread crumbs, parsley, and roasted peppers added a richness to the tender clam. The fried smelts were okay. I expected them to be more crisp in texture, and the breading was a bit flat. One note.  While the boys were enjoying the apps,. I had a caesar salad with fillets of salt cured anchovies. It was meh. The dressing was a bit thin to my liking. I enjoy a caesar where the dressing is voluptuous and studded with chopped anchovy. Lately, most of the caesar salads I have been served are dressed with a tangy emulsified vinagrette . Meh. For our main course I chose for my nephews on account they weren't exactly sure what to get. My oldest nephew had the spaghetti with braciole, sausage and meatballs. The other one had Fra Diavolo with calamari, and I chose the whole roasted branzino.  All of the dishes were good, but not spectacular.  Dessert followed with a selection of tiramisu. and chocolate ganache cake. Were they good, yes. Have I had better, absolutely. 

The best party of the evening without a doubt were the performances by the waitstaff. If you go with the expectation for the food to be superb, you will be disappointed, but if you go knowing that it will be okay, you'll be fine. The prices are reasonable, so I didn't feel butt hurt after the meal came to a close. I came hoping for an experiences. And the best part of the evening were the expressions of delight on my guests. All in all, I would go again. After all I ate at a place that was the back drop for two Rocky films. I can add that to my dining resume. But in all seriousness, the operatic performances by the service staff were superb, and I would go back many times over. Opera is like an oyster; it must be swallowed whole or not at all. This can perfectly sum up my experience at Victor Cafe.  

It was a good evening. The boys were happy, so that made me happy.


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