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Italy in Philly: Gran Caffe L’Aquila

Philadelphia has its own Little Italy and strong connections with the Mezzogiorno of old. But now there is a new connection and one that resonates with the new energy in this city and the “made in Italy’ brand.

Gran Caffe L’Aquila

Gran Caffe L’Aquila was a landmark café in L’Aquila. In 2007 it won the prestigious café of the year for all of Italy, but was then badly damaged in L’Aquila’s devastating earthquake of 2009. Three years later the owners Stefano Biasini (Gelato Champion of Italy) and Michele Morelli (Award winning Italian Coffee Roaster) met restaurateur Riccardo Longo (award winning regional Italian food and wine director) and this led to the rebirth of this beloved café in Philadelphia.

The restaurant was designed and built in Italy and shipped over for installation. The ground floor is an authentic Italian bar and the first floor has a restaurant, wine bar, cultural and language school, as well as the coffee and gelato labs. It opened on Christmas Eve, 2014.

One Liberty Place looms over diners

Overshadowed by the lustrous glazed helm tower known as the One Liberty Place on Chestnut Street in the heart of Philly, it is a genuine piece of Italy in America. The menu is in Italian, the food tastes Italian, and the voluminous wine list is full of the best new vintages from the peninsula. Perhaps most precious of all, it feels Italian and as you pass pictures of Italian film-stars and hear Italian pop songs, it is not hard to think of the high sierras above L’Aquila in summer and the warm pleasures of Abruzzese food in the winter.

The Gelataria

Each week the café has a different regional theme to its specials. This said, the pastas with lamb ragù are simply exceptional…. (

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