Italian for “beautiful sight,” Bella Vista may be named for its scenic views of the Center City skyline, but today it’s synonymous with dazzling food, a diverse population and a variety of fine, relatively affordable properties from restored row homes to spacious, modern condos. The primarily residential neighborhood (population approximately 7,000) serves as the gateway between South Philadelphia and Center City, with charming, tree-lined streets, a pair of bustling commercial corridors in South Street and Washington Avenue, and the legendary Ninth Street Italian Market all within its boundaries.
A neighborhood fixture since 1888, the Italian Market is Bella Vista’s most famous attraction and the oldest continuously operational outdoor market in the country. Teeming with bakeries, butcher shops, cheesemongers, coffee roasters, produce vendors and pasta purveyors, the array of sights and smells is a gourmand’s delight.
Culinary and cultural diversity is a calling card of the neighborhood once known as “Philadelphia’s Little Italy.” From Vietnamese to Mexican and from late-night pizza to a classic Philly cheese steak from Pat’s or Geno’s, the diversity of dining is truly staggering—even in the a.m hours when popular spots like Sabrina’s and Morning Glory turn Bella Vista into the “Brunch Capital of Philadelphia.”
Pleasant outdoor spaces also abound all around Bella Vista. Cianfrani Park at 8th and Fitzwater and Palumbo Park at 7th and Catharine are two of the best, offering lush plantings, tall shade trees, and the occasional game of bocce. The Palumbo Recreation Center’s playground and ball fields are also popular with kids.