Wilder review image



2009 Sansom St, Philadelphia
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There are some pop stars that look great and get so much PR that you can’t escape their songs. And yet, even with all the allure and hype, it’s pretty clear they’re missing real vocal talent. Love you JLo, but yes we’re talking about you. 

Wilder is the restaurant equivalent of these pop stars. It has all the looks of a great restaurant, with a central Rittenhouse Square location, a packed dining room full of chandeliers and fancy antique rugs used as wallpaper, and a menu with New American and Italian staples. Despite all of that, Wilder is not a restaurant you should go out of your way for. And besides some solid pizza and dinner rolls, most of the menu is completely forgettable.

Everything at Wilder makes you feel like you’re at one of the trendiest places in town. There’s animal print on the bar stools, large indoor plants, and velvet booths along the walls where you can hang out with a couple of friends. When you look around, you’ll see people celebrating graduations, a young crowd grabbing a few drinks before heading out for the night, and a few after-work crews who stopped in because one of their coworkers told them it’s a cool place. One of the more confusing elements of the restaurant is the fact that it’s billed as a three-level space, but the restaurant is really made up of just two floors with an elevated bar area. This seems representative of the place as a whole—Wilder promises you a lot, but rarely actually delivers.

Wilder review image


The menu is full of things like tuna crudo, raw bar items like clams and oysters, pastas, pizzas, and shareable mains like dry-aged strip steak and a pork chop milanesa. There’s nothing outstanding here, unless you count some fluffy pull-apart rolls with a creamy green garlic butter. Ultimately, you’re left with forgettable options that are often missing a key element—we’re speaking literally in some cases, as we once received our Mortadella and Long Hots pizza without the peppers. When you order something like their scallop crudo or pork sausage rigatoni, it may come with a flavorless puree or overcooked pasta that’s falling apart. And that’s why this place frustrates us. Dishes are made up of flavors and ingredients that seem good on paper and look great under the chandeliers, but once you take a closer look, the execution just isn’t there. 

The best time to come here is when you want a casual weeknight meal and can’t get into Veda or Melograno nearby. Stick to the solid pizzas, which are just doughy and chewy enough, and ask for some extra chile oil to liven the slices up. 

Maybe one day they’ll develop a menu that's exciting enough to justify the packed dining room. But for now, it’s missing quite a few things from being a showstopper.

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Food Rundown

Pull Apart Rolls

This is the best thing on Wilder’s menu. And that’s mostly because it’s the only dish that’s not lacking any element. The tennis ball-sized rolls are soft and buttery, and come with a garlicky green buttery that you should spread all over.

Big Eye Tuna Crudo

There are three crudos on the menu and this is the most serviceable of the group. The thick cuts of tuna are paired with tart blood oranges, fennel, bottarga, and peppery calabrian chiles. If you want something light to start your meal, you can go for it. But it’s not a must-order.

Mafaldine Alla Vodka

When we see Chesapeake jumbo lump crab on a menu, a restaurant officially has our attention. And the crab is actually the best part of this dish, since you get a big portion and it’s high-quality shellfish. There’s also chili, basil, and crunchy breadcrumbs tossed in with the mafaldine and vodka sauce. You’ll probably be daydreaming of taking the creamy tomato sauce home and punching it up with some onion salt or crushed red pepper from your cabinet.

Rigatoni Alla Norcina

You can avoid this pasta dish. The rigatoni is overcooked and the sausage, pancetta, and parmigiano combo is pretty forgettable.

Mortadella & Long Hots

This should be your go-to pizza here. You’ll find melted mozzarella and ricotta cheese, pistachios, aged balsamic, and a layer of arugula on top. The crust is super doughy and chewy, and the flavors work well together.

Heritage Pork Chop Milanesa

This milanesa is super crunchy but comes slightly overcooked while the breading needs more salt or seasoning. The accompanying tonnato sauce doesn’t add much.


The gelato here is housemade, and like everything on the menu, it's a bit hit or miss. On some nights, it's thick and creamy and can be a nice ending to your meal. Other times, it will come to your table already melted.

Suggested Reading

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The Best Italian Restaurants In Philadelphia

Where to eat Italian food in Philly when you aren’t willing to settle.

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Prunella in Midtown Village is an Italian restaurant with unforgettable pizza, pasta, and small plates. It has a large outdoor setup where you can people-watch while sipping on some natural wines.

The Best Restaurants Near Rittenhouse Square guide image

The 20 best places to eat around Rittenhouse.

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