Grand time at Gran Café L’Aquila

Gran Café L’Aquila

1716 Chestnut Street Philadelphia, PA 19103
Rating: 4.5/5.
Ideal for: Family Gathering, Date, Outing with Friends.
Price: Mid-Price.

When my parents came to visit me this past summer, we decided to try places neither of us have been to before, and Grand Café L’Aquila was on top of my personal list. We made reservations and headed there after my work day was over.

I am a person who would choose a plate of gnocchi over any other dish when going out, and yet it took me a few minutes to decide on what I was going to eat at this Italian place. The thing is that this café is known for its gelato and for its drinks, so the menu showcasing these is endless. It is also known for  its  specials, as each week they pick a different location in Italy and feature some typical plates from that region. Always make sure to check this section of the menu first, as it has rare combinations that are going to surprise you.

While I was trying to decide on what I was going to eat, I suggested that we order a cheese plate. I know, what is so special about a cheese plate, right? Well, besides ordering some blue cheese, fontina, and provolone, we ordered what this restaurant is known for: its savory gelato. Weird, right? Keep reading.

This one, in particular, was a Parmigiano gelato that tasted even more enjoyable on a loaf of bread with its fig marmalade. The gelato, although weird, was one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted. It was so flavorful, creamy and cold. The texture of an ice cream with the flavor of my favorite cheese was so pleasant, that I didn’t think twice when I ordered my plate of pasta. I needed to try the truffato gelato.


Some other appetizers we got were the Melanzana Parmigiana, which had eggplant, melted cheese, and tomato sauce, and fried artichoke. I normally deviate from tomato sauces at Italian restaurants because I believe they are too robust and not fresh enough, but this Melanzana Parmigiana was nothing like that. It has the ideal amount of fresh tomato sauce, and the cheese did not overwhelm the flavor of the eggplant, but rather complemented it. For the fried artichokes, all I have to say is that a plate is not enough. They were crunchy and filled with flavored, and the kale salad that comes with it didn’t last long on the plate. The dressing was creamy but fresh, light but sufficient.


As I mentioned before, getting its gnocchi –minus the mushrooms- with its truffato gelato was a no-brainer. Although the truffato gelato was weird at first, it made the experience so much better. By itself, this gelato is very strong, and I wouldn’t eat it just with a loaf of bread. Once it melted on my pasta, the kick of flavor and creaminess made the already good plate of pasta even better.  This is my new go-to plate of gnocchi. If the gelato is not something that is up your alley, order the plate of pasta with the mushrooms for a different sensation of flavors.














The herb-crusted salmon is another item that is a must when coming here. It is made on a wooden plank and comes with roasted potatoes and asparagus. It is the perfect option when you need something lighter than a plate of pasta. I normally don’t enjoy my salmon with too much seasoning, but the combinations of herbs and panko made this plate very delightful and mouth watering. The roasted potatoes were cooked to perfection, and the asparagus made this plate a well-balanced meal.

For dessert, I recommend its award-winning gelato. I personally love Bacci, which is a hazelnut and chocolate ice cream –do not confuse it with Nutella, a flavor they also offer. Another one of my favorites is Nocciola, which is a simple hazelnut cream.  If you want an extra kick, get the gelato on its brioche as a sandwich, and order its famous hot chocolate drink with liquor, which was a little too strong for my taste, or its Nutella milkshake. 


Jewtina Tip: Although pricey, I highly recommend adding one of the savory gelatos to your pasta for an extra kick of flavors.


Teenu, Enjoy!