Dining Recession Not Biting Down; Table Trend Is Informal And Italian

Posted: December 13, 1990

Despite national fears of recession, the city restaurant scene seems as enterprising as ever. At least a dozen dining places have opened in the last few months, and some existing ones have taken on a more casual aspect.

Italian food still seems to be in a local renaissance, making up a huge share of the new-restaurant market. Many of the new places are colorful, breezy and fun - you could call them designer bistros.

Although the mood seems to be moving toward the less formal, stressing casual dress and simple foods, some of the newer hotels have opened formal restaurants that emphasize classic French cuisine. So don't pack away the suit and tie just yet.

The following listing of restaurants begins with some of the city's new restaurants and a grouping of a number of Italian restaurants by neighborhood.

(Credit-card symbols are: V for Visa, AX for American Express, MC for MasterCard, D for Diners and CB for Carte Blanche.)

NEW IN THE CITY

AZALEAS Omni Hotel, 4th & Chestnut Sts, 931-4260. American regional & some game dishes. Md & Pa Dutch-style dishes featured. Lots of plants, well-lighted and spacious. Restaurant. Breakfast, lunch & dinner, 7 days. Major cards.

THE BROADWAY RESTAURANT AND BAR The Bellevue, Broad & Walnut Sts, 732-3737. This new deli has sandwiches so large, they come in two sizes. Supporting cast of chopped chicken livers, cabbage borscht, kasha, stuffed cabbage, brisket and egg creams. Moderate. Breakfast, lunch, dinner & after theater, 7 days. Major cards.

CAFE SAN REMO 757 S Front St, 462-4440. Regional Italian food with such

Tuscany specialties as zuppa Toscana (beef and cabbage soup) and polenta.

Piano music and opera singing nightly, plus trio Fris & Sats. Dancing. Moderate to expensive. Dinner, Weds-Mons. CB, D.

RESTAURANT CALLOWHILL STREET 1836 Callowhill St, 557-6922. A melange of artistic trappings surrounds new, modern American cuisine. Duck is a specialty. Live jazz, Thurs-Sats. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Moderate. Dinner, Mons- Sats. Major cards.

CATALINA Korman Suites Conference Center, 20th St south of Spring Garden St, 569-7500. Bright, spacious, cheerful place offering interesting American fare and dishes with Asian accents. Moderate. Lunch, Mons-Sats. Dinner, 7 days. Brunch, Suns. Major cards.

THE DINING ROOM at the Ritz-Carlton, 17th St near Chestnut St, 563-1600. Comfortable and elegant. Reservations needed to enjoy classic French dishes prepared with a creative touch. Expensive. Breakast, lunch & dinner, 7 days. Also has Grill Room, serving American cuisine, including steaks, chops & fish. Moderate. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, Mons-Sats. Major cards.

DOCK STREET BREWING CO 2 Logan Square, 496-0413. Pub featuring 5 to 7 styles of beer made on premises. Designer menu offers international fare, American regional dishes. Inexpensive. Lunch, dinner & late night 7 days. Major cards.

GIRASOLE 1305 Locust St, 985-4659. Became an overnight sensation as an Italian bistro serving some of finest veal dishes in town. From focaccio to country pizzas, there's attention to detail. Moderate. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, Mons-Sats. Major cards.

JEANNINE'S BISTRO 10 S Front St, 925-1126.. This is a moderately priced, informal French cafe located above La Truffe, Old City's premier French restaurant. Romance, salad Lyonnaise and cassoulet join traditional favorites. Lunch, Tues-Fris. Dinner, Mons-Sats. Major cards.

LA CUPOLE Bourse Building, 4th St between Market & Chestnut Sts, 440-0700. Attractive, casual and interesting spot serving well-made French-Italian fare at bistro prices. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, Mons-Sats. Moderate. Major cards.

POMODORO 17th St & Parkway, 981-5555. Handsome and spacious with some soft neon. Excellent Italian fare. Grilled items a specialty. Reasonably priced Sunday brunch has caught on in a big way. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, 7 days. Brunch, Suns. Moderate. Major Cards.

SASSAFRAS 48 S 2d St, 925-2317. It's not really new, having been a popular watering hole for more than a decade, but there's a new owner and new emphasis on food. It's small, but plenty of room to enjoy soups, salads, burgers, dumplings, pastas and dishes with international flair. Inexpensive. Lunch & dinner, Mons-Sats. Major cards.

SFUZZI Liberty Place, 17th & Market Sts, 851-8888. Chic Italian bistro that has captured the city. It's tastefully designed and has deep-dish pastas and casual foods. Moderate. Lunch, Mons-Sats. Dinner, 7 days. Brunch, Suns. V, MC & D.

LA GROLLA TRATTORIA 782 S 2d St, 627-7701. There's been a facelift to decor, menu and prices. Theme is casual, but pastas and specialties are still homemade. Delicious risotto dishes a specialty. Reasonable. Dinner, Mons-Sats. Major cards.

ZANZIBAR BLUE 301 S 11th St, 829-0300. Hip jazz club whose Italian-French crafted food strikes a fine note. Pastas, bruschetta and baked brie are popular items. Moderate. Dinner, 7 days. Brunch, Suns. Major cards.

NEW SOUTH PHILLY

CAFE LUCIA 937 E Passyunk Ave, 463-9409. Attentive service in conservative atmosphere. Contemporary Italian dishes, with emphasis on veal & seafood. Reasonable. Dinner, 7 days. Major cards.

LA VIGNA 1100 S Front St, 336-1100. Northern Italian cuisine is bill of fare. Osso buco & other veal dishes a specialty. Interesting wine list. Moderate. Lunch, Tues-Fris. Dinner, Tues-Suns. Major cards.

MARA BROS TRATTORIA RISTORANTE 1533 S 11th St, 334-7722. A homey spot with a serious kitchen operated by two brothers from Turin, Italy. Good, fresh pastas & excellent sauces. Country-style dishes a specialty. Dinner, Tues- Suns. Moderate. AX.

RISTORANTE ALLA LETIZIA 1915 E Passyunk Ave, 755-7552. Intimate surroundings in which to enjoy fresh pastas, excellent soups & seafood specialties. Expensive. Dinner, Tues-Suns. V, MC.

RISTORANTE FRANCA MARIA 1614 McKean St, 755-2550. Home cooking here means dishes of south-central Italy. Small, but comfortable. Baccala with roasted peppers is a specialty. Reasonable. Dinner, Weds-Mons. No cards.

RISTORANTE LONGANO 767 S 9th St, 440-9114. Menu reflects specialties of Abruzzi. Zuppa di pesce (seafood casserole) for two is one of many favorites. Excellent pastas. Moderate. Lunch & dinner, 7 days. No cards.

RISTORANTE VITTORIO 316 S 5th St, 592-0350. Old-country Italian cooking. Good shareable pastas & mussels. Small quarters. Reasonable. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, 7 days. No cards.

FELICIA'S 1148 S 11th St, 755-9656. Pastas & regional Italian cooking are specialties. It's quiet, comfortable and unpretentious. Ravioli is excellent, pesto dishes worthy. Lunch, Tues-Fris. Dinner, Tues-Suns. Moderate. Major cards.

MAMA YOLANDA'S 746 S 8th St, 592-0195. Excellent Northern-style pasta dishes and veal and chicken specialties. Antiques give 2 dining rooms an interesting touch. Roomy dining to accommodate two or entire family. Moderate. Dinner, Tues-Suns. Major cards.

OSTERIA ROMANA 935 Ellsworth St, 271-9191. Roman-style dining in small townhouse in S Philly. Known for its pig roasts and long, leisurely meals. Pasta dishes can be superb, and veal very good. Expensive. Dinner, Tues-Suns. Major cards.

THE SALOON 750 S 7th St, 627-1811. Not only a tradition for steaks & Italian dishes, but a classic study in consistency. Both floors are generally filled with loyal followers. Veal dishes dominate. Numerous pastas are perennial favorites. Expensive. Lunch, Tues-Fris. Dinner, Mons-Sats. AX.

TORANO'S 11th & Christian Sts, 925-2282. Pastas & traditional Italian specialties in a villa-like atmosphere. Dinner, Tues-Suns. Major cards.

TRADITIONAL SOUTH PHILLY

DANTE & LUIGI'S 762 S 10th St, 922-9501. A simple place with time-honored home-style Italian cooking. Mussels are popular and osso buco is a Tuesday tradition. Reasonable. Lunch & dinner, 7 days. No cards.

MARRA'S RESTAURANT 1734 E Passyunk Ave, 339-9042. It started with pizza and now serves a full-fledged Italian menu. Popular. Reasonable. Lunch & dinner, Tues-Suns. No credit cards.

NOSTALGIA ROOM 807 S 9th St, 574-9091. Traditional S Philly fare. Old-time celebrity photos cover walls. A large menu that includes Southern Italian specialties and reasonably priced seafood combos. Good family dining. Moderate. Lunch, Mons-Sats. Dinner, 7 days. Major cards.

RALPH'S 760 S 9th St, 627-6011. Food is an excellent representation of traditional-style Southern Italian. Top-notch veal & pasta preparations. Moderate. Lunch & dinner, 7 days. No credit cards.

ROYAL VILLA CAFE 1700 Jackson St, 462-4488. Good, home-style Italian food, the way it used to be in S Philly. Lunch & dinner, 7 days. Inexpensive. No credit cards.

SOUTH PHILLY GRILLE 2026 S 12th St, 336-8833. Mussels in gravy have been a ritual for too many generations to mention. An old S Philly favorite. Lunch & dinner Mons-Sats. Inexpensive. No credit cards.

TRIANGLE TAVERN 10th & Reed Sts, 467-8683. Veal scaloppine to pizza & local entertainment. Real neighborhood stuff, like an indoor Pat's Steaks. Inexpensive. Dinner 7 days. No credit cards.

VICTOR CAFE 1303 Dickinson St, 468-3040. Operatic classics are played and sung here. Menu offers classic home-style Italian food with some contemporary dishes. Walls are covered with pictures from Mozart to Muti, and record collection is priceless. Moderate. Dinner, Tues-Suns. Major cards.

VILLA DiROMA 932 S 9th St, 592-1295. To 9th Street what Melrose Diner is to Snyder Avenue. Down-to-earth fare, with mussels & pasta reigning supreme. Veal's not bad; selection is huge. Moderate. Lunch, Mons-Sats; dinner, 7 days. No credit cards.

CENTER CITY ITALIAN

D'ANGELO'S RISTORANTE 256 S 20th St, 546-3935. One of the newer restaurants. Sicilian-style dishes join veal, pastas & steaks. Moderate. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, Mons-Sats. Major cards.

DiLULLO CENTRO 1407 Locust St, 546-2000. Decor, with panoramic murals, is breathtaking. Food equally imaginative, wine list excellent. Expensive. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, Mons-Sats. Major cards.

IL GALLO NERO 254 S 15th St, 546-8065. Piano music with classical and cabaret overtones accompanies well-prepared and artistically presented Northern Italian cuisine. New lower prices. Reasonable. Dinner, Tues-Sats. Major cards.

LA CUCINA 121 South St, 925-3042. Tableside preparations such as salads and flambeed desserts featured. Other specialties: butterflied tenderloin smothered with crabmeat, fettuccine topped with prosciutto and crabmeat in Alfredo sauce. Expensive. Dinner, 7 days. V, MC, AX.

LA FAMIGLIA 8 S Front St, 922-2803. Good Italian food in a plush, formal setting with excellent wines to match. Strong points are veal, pastas & sauces. However, you won't go wrong with chicken or seafood dishes. Expensive. Lunch, Tues-Fris. Dinner, Tues-Suns. Major cards.

PORTOFINO RESTAURANT 1227 Walnut St, 923-8208. Mussels come in a garlicky sauce and are generally excellent. Veal is of good quality, pastas made at restaurant. Moderate. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, Mons- Sats. Major cards.

RISTORANTE PRIMAVERA 146 South St, 925-7832. Be prepared to wait, as restaurant takes no reservations and doesn't seat many more than 30. But it's worth the wait for wonderful pastas, sauces and excellent chicken dishes. Moderate. Dinner, 7 days. No credit cards. (Also at 384 W Lancaster Ave, Wayne, 254-0200. Moderate. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, 7 days. MC, V & AX.)

RISTORANTE SAN CARLO 214 South St, 592-9777. Small Italian addition to South Street scene. Big reputation for excellent pastas. Reasonable. Dinner, Mons-Suns. AX.

S P Q R 2029 Walnut St, 496-0177. It's small, intimate and filled with fine works of art - both on tables and walls. Everything is made from scratch. Home-style veal, seafood & pasta dishes. Moderate. Lunch Tues-Fris. Dinner, Tues-Sats. AX & D.

CROWD-PLEASERS

APROPOS 211 S Broad St, 546-4424. A great location and a view of Broad St

from glass-enclosed cafe make this a popular spot. Food is prepared in trendy Southwestern style, with a Mediterranean touch. Pizzas and grilled fish and meats are served late into night. Moderate. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, Mons- Sats. Major cards.

CAFE NOLA 328 South St, 627-2590. New Orleans food caringly made and served in a trendy environment. A second dining room has been added, which gives some elbow room to smallish restaurant. Expensive. Lunch, Weds-Sats. Dinner, 7 days. Major cards.

CAROLINA'S 261 S 20th St, 545-1000. A perennial in-spot. Consistently good regional American fare with a Southwestern emphasis, served in a small but comfortable dining room, while friendly crowd imbibes next door. Reasonable. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, 7 days. Brunch, Suns. Major cards.

CUTTERS GRAND CAFE AND BAR 2005 Market St, 851-6262. It seats about 175 in restaurant and 120 more at bar. It's popular. Expensive. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, 7 days. Major cards.

DOWNEY'S Front & South Sts, 629-0526. This Irish-style restaurant features good steaks & chops. Also, lots of people. Moderate. Lunch, dinner & late- night snacks, Mons-Suns. Brunch, Sats & Suns. Major cards.

JAMEY'S 4417 Main St, Manayunk, 483-5354. Seafood, mesquite and imaginative American cuisine with a California touch. A good wine list complements attentive service. Moderate. Lunch, Tues-Sats. Dinner, Tues-Suns. Brunch, Suns. AX, MC & V.

MARABELLA'S 1420 Locust St, 545-1845. (Also in Blue Bell, at Skippack & Penllyn Pikes, 641-9100 ). It's young, alive and unpretentious, with everything from pizzas to mussels, baked garlic & grilled chicken breast. Inexpensive. Lunch & dinner, 7 days. Major cards.

METROPOLIS 1515 Locust St, 546-1515. Casual. Still standing-room-only many nights. Lots of glitz and glamour in decor & clientele. Moderate. Lunch, Mons- Fris. Dinner, 7 days. Brunch, Suns. Major cards.

ODEON 114 S 12th St, 922-5875. Be prepared to be pampered. Fresh, quality ingredients are nucleus of artfully crafted dishes, whether they be duck breast, fish, crabcakes or any of wonderful desserts. Moderate. Lunch, Mons- Fris. Dinner, Mons-Sats. AX, MC, V.

TREETOPS Rittenhouse Condominium & Hotel, W Rittenhouse Sq, 546-9000. An upscale bistro with a decidedly informal atmosphere. Save room for desserts. Moderate to expensive. Breakfast, 7 days. Lunch, Mons-Sats. Dinner, 7 days. Brunch, Suns. Major cards.

VARALLI'S 1345 Locust St, 546-4200. Modestly priced cafe food, including grilled eggplant, pizzas & fresh pastas. Lunch & dinner, Mons-Sats. Major cards.

FOR SEAFOOD

BOOKBINDERS SEA FOOD HOUSE 215 S 15th St, 545-1137. Along with lobsters and daily specials, there are mussels done in a spicy diablo sauce. White sauce available upon request. Moderate. Lunch Mons-Fris. Dinner 7 days. Major cards.

OLD ORIGINAL BOOKBINDER'S 125 Walnut St, 925-7027. Used to be only Philadelphia restaurant known to anyone west of Mississippi. Lobster & seafood still draw locals and visitors. Expensive. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, 7 days. Major cards.

DiNARDO'S 312 Race St, 238-9595. House specialty is blue-claw hardshells

from Gulf of Mexico. They're done Baltimore-style (steamed) or garlic-style. Reasonable. Lunch, Mons-Sats. Dinner, 7 days. Major cards.

FRANKIE'S SEAFOOD ITALIANO 11th St & Tasker Ave, 468-9989. It might take awhile for your food to arrive, but it's all made to order and worth waiting for. Good seafood, linguine, veal & chicken dishes. Moderate. Dinner, Tues- Suns. MC, V & D.

PAR FOUR RESTAURANT 2301 Penrose Ave, 462-1760. Lots of seafood items, including a plank of goodies for two. Clams, oysters and mussels are specialties. Inexpensive. Lunch, Mons-Sats. Dinner, 7 days. Major cards.

WALT'S 806 S 2d St, 339-9124. No-nonsense crab eating is what Walt's is known for. No softshells, but Maryland hardshells are on a continuous crank- out. Inexpensive. Lunch & dinner, 7 days. No cards.

AROUND NEIGHBORHOODS

JACK'S FIREHOUSE 2132 Fairmount Ave, 232-9000. Jack McDavid, of Down Home Diner at Reading Terminal Market fame, takes his country cooking upscale. Even eel and roast chicken come dressed for dinner. Moderate to expensive. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, 7 days. Brunch, Suns. Major cards.

JAKE'S 4365 Main St, Manayunk, 483-0444. American regional cooking complements international cuisine in a casual yet elegant atmosphere. Moderate. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, 7 days. V, MC, AX.

FRIDAY, SATURDAY & SUNDAY 261 S 21st St, 546-4232. Showed in mid-70s what restaurants would be serving in '90s. Space is so tight, you literally rub elbows with those next to you. Food is consistently good, as is service. Moderate. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, 7 days. Major cards.

LONDON RESTAURANT 2301 Fairmount St, 978-4545. New chef and a new menu specializing in creative contemporary cuisine. Moderate. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, 7 days. Brunch, Suns. Major cards.

MEZZANOTTE 1701 Green St, 765-2777. Muted colors give this Fairmount restaurant a warm glow. Does a very good job with its creative pizzas, tender mussels & pastas. Inexpensive. Lunch & dinner 7 days. V, MC, AX.

NEW MOON 25th & Aspen Sts, 978-9355. Live music on Weds, Fris & Sats compliment diverse and stylish fare that ranges from crab cakes to duck breast. Moderate. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, Mons-Sats. Major cards.

ROSE TATTOO CAFE 19th & Callowhill Sts, 569-8939. Two floors of dining amid tropical plants. Lively bar crowd, good seafood and mix of international and American foods. Moderate. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, Mons-Sats. AX, MC & V.

STAZI MILANO Jenkintown Station, Greenwood & West Aves, Jenkintown, 885-9000. Greenwood Grill goes Italian. An upbeat atmosphere offering reasonably priced dishes from polenta to risotto. Reasonable. Lunch, Mons- Fris. Dinner, 7 days. V, MC, AX.

TAVERN ON GREEN 21st & Green Sts, 235-6767. Popular items include grilled chicken & fish, as well as stir-fries, burgers, chili, vegetarian dishes. Moderate. Lunch & dinner, 7 days. Brunch, Suns. Major cards.

FOR ROMANCE

ALOUETTE 334 Bainbridge St, 629-1126. French-Thai cuisine served in a subdued atmosphere, as candlelight casts shadows on brick walls. Expensive. Lunch, Mons & Weds-Fris. Dinner, Weds-Mons. Brunch, Suns. Major cards.

ASTRAL PLANE 1708 Lombard St, 546-6230. Faithful following includes customers who love returning to a time warp where food is as eclectic as arty decor. Dining upstairs & down. Moderate. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, 7 days. Brunch, Suns. Major cards.

THE GARDEN 1617 Spruce St, 546-4455. A landmark. Crisp-roasted duck, veal, rack of lamb and snails are some of favorites. Expensive. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, Mons-Sats. Major cards.

LE PETIT CAFE 7026 Terminal Sq, Upper Darby, 352-8040. If you like duck, you'll love crisp version (with or without sauce) at this intimate French restaurant with Italian overtones. Operated by husband and wife: He cooks; she does desserts. No liquor license. Reservations. Moderate. Dinners, Tues-Sats. No cards.

ETHNIC FLAVORS

BERLENGAS ISLAND RESTAURANT 4926 N 5th St, 324-3240. Authentic Portuguese food served in a small restaurant with a grottolike atmosphere in city's old Portuguese neighborhood. Inexpensive. Lunch & dinner, Thurs-Tues. No cards.

CHEF THEODORE Riverview Plaza, 1100 S Delaware Ave, 271-6800. Chef Theodore continues to do good things in his new, rambling dining room. A delicious time, from moussaka to Muzak. Moderate. Dinner, Tues-Suns. Major cards.

EL KIBUK 4535 N 5th St, 324-7029. Cuban restaurant in city's Hispanic section catering to locals. Good, authentic food. Reasonable. Lunch & dinner, 7 days. MC, V.

HOFFMANN HOUSE 1214 Sansom St, 925-2772. One of few city restaurants offering German-style food. Game fare has become a specialty. Great atmosphere for veal a la Holstein. Moderate. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, Mons-Sats. Major cards.

LOS AMIGOS 50 S 2d St, 922-7061. This reasonably priced cavelike cantina offers some Southwestern foods along with its Tex-Mex menu. Lunch & dinner, 7 days. Major cards.

MACCABEAM 128 S 12th St, 922-5922. Middle Eastern food prepared by Israelis with an Iraqi background. Popular items include shawarma (barbecued turkey) and falafel dishes. Hamburgers & hot dogs available. Restaurant follows kosher laws; has no dairy products. Closed Fri evenings, all day Sats. Lunch, Suns- Fris. Dinner, Suns-Thus. V, MC & AX.

MIDDLE EAST RESTAURANT 126 Chestnut St, 922-1003. This is granddaddy of city's Middle Eastern restaurants. It's big and has music and belly dancers to complement shish kebab, lamb, chicken & seafood dishes. Moderate. Dinner, 7 days. Major cards.

SYRENKA 3173 Richmond St, 634-3954. A Polish cafeteria-style restaurant run by a Polish family. Authentic from stuffed cabbages to jellied pigs feet. No alcohol. Inexpensive. Lunch & dinner, Mons-Sats. No cards.

TAPAS 3d St & Girard Ave, 922-2376. Interesting & informal with Spanish dishes, including paella and tapas. Zarzuela de mariscos (deep dish of seafood) is a popular item. Reasonable. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, Mons-Sats. July & Aug. MC, V.

TEQUILA'S 1511 Locust St, 546-0181. Good & authentic regional Mexican food. Quality even extends to obligatory nachos. No matter how busy it gets, you are never rushed. Moderate. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, Mons-Sats. Major cards.

THIRD ST OUZO 45 S 3d St, 625-8508. New, small Greek taverna with a menu that goes from gyros to soutzoukia. Now serving liquor. Reasonable. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, Mons-Sats. V, MC.

ZOCALO 3600 Lancaster Ave, 895-0139. A Mexican restaurant offering high- fashion appetizers, tacos, enchiladas and contemporary dishes. Nifty food in a nifty setting. Reasonable. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, 7 days. Brunch, Suns. V, MC, AX.

WARSAW CAFE 306 S 16th St, 546-0204. Eastern European flavors in contemporary style. It's small, but comfortable & nicely appointed. Good black bread, borscht, stuffed cabbage, beef stroganoff & daily specials. Moderate. Lunch & dinner, Mons-Sats. D, AX.

FOR STEAKS

BABE'S 3400 Aramingo Ave, 423-6000. A Port Richmond warehouse converted to a steakhouse serving likes of a 24-ounce aged Porterhouse steak. Raw bar & music. (Italian menu now served exclusively on first floor.) Expensive. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, 7 days. Major cards.

MORTON'S OF CHICAGO 19th St & Parkway, 557-0724. Offers aged prime beef plus lobster, lamb & a veal chop. Cooking is done in view of diner. Expensive. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, Mons-Suns. Major cards.

RUTH'S CHRIS STEAK HOUSE Broad & Spruce Sts, 790-1515. Go for corn-fed aged beef you can't get at home. Steaks are prepared at high heat and then placed in sizzling butter. Seafood is available. Expensive. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, 7 days. Major cards.

THE CHART HOUSE Penn's Landing, 625-8383. Along with steaks and prime rib there's seafood & salad and oyster bars. Free valet parking (tips are welcome) is a plus. Moderate. Dinner 7 days. Brunch, Suns. Major cards.

PALM Bellevue, Broad & Walnut Sts, 546-7256. Nearly a dozen Palms exist coast to coast, offering excellent steaks, chops, seafood, a la carte vegetables and caricatures of local celebs on walls. Expensive. Lunch, Mons- Fris. Dinner, Mons-Sats. Major cards.

THE BIG GUYS

THE FOUNTAIN Four Seasons Hotel, 18th St & Parkway, 963-1500. A premier spot that puts to rest claims that hotel food is never up to snuff. Exemplary dining room in every respect. Worth the price. Expensive. Lunch, Mons-Sats. Dinner, 7 days. Brunch, Suns. Major cards.

LE BEC-FIN 1523 Walnut St, 567-1000. What is there to say that hasn't already been said? A restaurant that knows how to do just about everything right. Each nuance gets sharp attention. Restaurant pleases under most severe scrutiny. Reservations required. Expensive. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, Mons- Sats. Major cards.

SUSANNA FOO 1512 Walnut St, 545-2666. Imagination is key word here. Delicious Chinese cuisine that can be both bold and subtle. Service is excellent. Expensive. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, Mons-Sats. AX, MC, V.

ASIAN FLAVORS

HIKARU 607 S 2d St, 627-7110. Good Japanese food with a well-rounded menu. Newcomers to this cuisine will find service helpful. Moderate. Lunch, Mons- Fris. Dinner 7 days. Major cards.

JOE'S PEKING DUCK HOUSE 925 Race St, 922-3277. Joe Poon runs this operation with uncanny skill, turning out wonderful ducks with crisp, glazed skin. His mussel soup & dumplings are always good bets. Inexpensive. Lunch & dinner, 7 days. No credit cards.

KADOYA 103 S Juniper St, 545-3417. It's small but interesting, with sushi and sashimi, and other Japanese dishes. Reasonable. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, Tues-Sats. M & V.

LEE HOW FOOK 219 N 11th St, 925-7266. A small place that could be easily missed, but whose food is quite distinctive and artistically presented. No liquor. Moderate. Lunch & dinner, 7 days. No credit cards.

SANG KEE PEKING DUCK HOUSE 238 N 9th St, 925-7532. Granddaddy of city's Chinese duck houses. Nothing has changed here except expanded room. No frills, but delicious duck dishes, noodle soups and fried shrimp. Inexpensive. No liquor. Lunch and dinner, 7 days. No credit cards.

SIAM CUISINE 925 Arch St, 922-7135. Hot spot for Thai cooking. Stir-fries for every asbestos level. Helpful servers will give advice. Moderate. Lunch, Mons-Sats. Dinner, 7 days. AX, MC & V.

TU DO RESTAURANT 1030 S 8th St, 829-9122. Vietnamese food, including good rice and vegetarian dishes. It's not unusual to find soft-shell crab and quail as specials. No liquor. Inexpensive. Lunch & dinner, Weds-Mons. No cards.

VAN'S GARDEN 121 N 11th St, 923-2438. A Vietnamese restaurant with excellent spring rolls. Also, good noodle soups, fried rice & noodle dishes. Seasonings are distributed evenhandedly, and fresh herb accompaniments are pleasant. No liquor. Inexpensive. Lunch & dinner, 7 days. No cards.

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