Not every performance on the Avenue of the Arts requires a pretheater extravaganza. Since the December 2001 opening of the Kimmel Center, simple restaurants serving mostly no-frills Italian pastas and quick main courses have sprung up in the neighborhood, to get you in and out before your show. Chic bistro Bliss, 220 S. Broad St. (tel. 215/731-1100), a block from the Kimmel Center, has a winning, eclectic menu with pasta, Asian, and grilled dishes. Right across from the Academy of Music, Estia, 1407 Locust St. (tel. 215/735-7700), specializes in Greek preparations of fish, with excellent octopus and plenty of bar seating, but a hefty price tag. My favorites for early-evening Italian fare are cozy La Viola, 253 S. 16t St. (tel. 215/735-8630), with its spinach gnocchi in pomodoro sauce and BYOB policy; and the affordable wines, squash-stuffed ravioli, and grilled salmon with basil at Ernesto's 1521 Café, 1521 Spruce St. (tel. 215/546-1521). Also nearby (although 19 floors up) is the Bellevue's elegant Nineteen, which offers both formal dining and a more casual cafe for a quick meal.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.