Marc Vetri’s version of an Italian gastropub might just be a college student’s paradise. Instead of sipping average beers and mediocre cocktails from dingy bars on campus, head to Alla Spina for unique craft brews, tasty bar snacks and entrees as well as killer desserts. Being a Vetri restaurant, the food at Alla Spina is unsurprisingly a huge draw. The menu is creative, and while it’s meat-centric and fried food-filled, seafood dishes and seasonal salads give the meat shy plenty to munch on as well.

Photo by Amanda Shulman

What differentiates this Vetri spot from its more upscale counterparts is the casual vibe and the relatively low price point. No entree exceeds $18. A newly initiated by-the-piece menu section allows you to snack heartily but cheaply. You can order an array of bites – Chef Patrick Szoke picks the charred octopus and chorizo and the wings as his favorites – ranging from delectably tangy parmesan lemon wings at $.75 a pop, to Bibb lettuce cups filled with beef tongue pastrami, pickled cabbage and Russian dressing at $2.50 a piece. These new menu additions make not only the ideal bar snacks but also the perfect accompaniment for watching football, for which they have giant TVs and oversized comfy lounge chairs. Sundays will never taste the same.Photo by Amanda Shulman

The appeal of Alla Spina goes far beyond the food. Beer snobs, welcome to heaven.  Their drink selection is extensive, with 20 taps featuring hard to find Italian brews, local as well as international varieties and two cask ales. On top of that there’s a list of 75 bottled beers and a specially brewed beer from Philadelphia’s own craft brewery, Victory. If beer’s not your thing have no fear —there’s plenty of wine, spirits and original cocktails to satisfy you too.

For those of you looking to expand your horizons beyond lukewarm nachos, greasy buffalo wings and Natty Lights, head to Alla Spina for gourmet snacks and drinks that won’t break your bank.

And looking to the future…on Sunday, September 28th, Alla Spina is hosting an Oktoberfest Street Festival. While your friends abroad might be prancing around Munich, you can prance around Philly. Grab your lederhosen and head down to Mount Vernon Street for traditional German food, eight different beers on tap and a serious beer stein holding contest.