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Oldest Italian Restaurant in America? That Honor Passes to South Philadelphia

By Hadas Kuznits

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A South Philadelphia restaurant is now the oldest Italian restaurant in the United States.

With the closing of a restaurant in San Francisco on Tuesday, Ralph's Italian Restaurant on South Ninth Street in Philadelphia is now the oldest Italian restaurant in the country.

"It was my great-great-grandfather in 1900 that started it," says fifth-generation owner Ryan Rubino (below).

RUBINO_Ryan ralph's _hadas
(Ryan Rubino, fifth-generation owner of Ralph's Restaurant in Philadelphia, in operation since 1900. Credit: Hadas Kuznits)


Ralph's was the second-oldest Italian restaurant in the country, up until this week's closure of San Franscisco's Fior D'Italia, which has been in operation since 1886.

Now that distinction passes to Ralph's, which is not only family owned but also family operated.

Rubino says his father and his uncle work there, "and you have my great-uncle in the kitchen, too, six days a week.  On any given day there's still three generations actively involved in the restaurant."

Listen to Hadas Kuznits' interview with Ryan Rubino in this CBS Philly podcast:


And Rubino has added some modern touches to the restaurant:

"I went to school for marketing, so now we're doing social media, we're doing Open Table (online reservations), we ran a Groupon."

But the restaurant itself is still just as it has been for 112 years.

"The floor is the same from 1900 -- when you walk back out and look at the pictures on the wall, it is the same floor," Rubino notes with pride.

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