Recently I hopped a bus home to the greater Philadelphia area to see some family, relax with friends, but most importantly, check out the highly acclaimed and world-renowned Pizza Brain- the first pizza museum and pizzeria.
Opening just shy of two months ago, Pizza Brain may seem unassuming on the outside...
...but it's a never-ending pizza party on the inside! Folks, full disclosure here before I get right into it- I effing love this place, and as a Kickstarter contributor, I'd like to be completely transparent in just how radical Pizza Brain is.
How can you not get behind a mission statement like this? Earlier this year, Syracuse native Brian Dwyer claimed the Guinness record for world's largest collection of pizza-related memorabilia.
In the meantime, Brian and friends Joe, Mike and Ryan began gutting a space in the neighborhood of Kensington in Philadelphia (just a few blocks from my favorite Philly brewery) and making it their own in anticipation of their combination museum and pizzeria.
Immediately on entering I was blown away by the combination of overwhelming friendliness, inviting interior design, and one serious pizza menu-
It took me a second to fully grasp it, but I love how they've laid it all out. Essentially they have segregated their menu into red/white pies, then have a separate display to show you what slices are available from said pizzas on any given day.
While I tried to make up my mind, the generous dudes hooked me up with a slice of their house white, or "Leonard Bookman" (mozz, ricotta, fontina, black pepper, oregano). Don't be deceived by its uniform pale shade- this is one well-balanced, flavorful 'za here.
Eventually I opted to start off with a "Forbes Waggensense" (tomatoes, mozz, fontina, grana padano, basil, and some serious pepperoni). For whatever reason, it's rare to find a pie that has both basil and peps, which is a shame because I think they pair relatively well.
Man, I just love when legit pepperonis turn concave in the oven like that, it reminds me of these things from my childhood. Next up I decided to diversify my bonds by ordering the white pie "Granny Divjack" (mozz, blue cheese, carmelized onions, shaved almonds, and granny smith apples).
I was really eager to try this guy, as I've made a few similar pizzas back home. Carmelized onions and blue cheese are both very strong flavors and it can be a challenge to balance them out, but team Pizza Brain was able to pull it off, mainly due to the not-too-wet/not-too-dry slices of apple.
While both pies were spectacular, they worked even better in unison. I'd take a bite of the white, then back to the red, so on and so forth, occasionally washing it down with some apple soda from Pizza Brains' eclectic soda selection.
As soon as the crowd at the register dissipated and I wolfed as many slices as possible, Brian eagerly showed me all that his awesome collection had to offer, here are a few of my favorites-
This is a section of the Philly wall of fame in their back patio painted by the talented Hawk Krall. There's so much going on in this mural I stood there for 10 minutes trying to pick everyone out!
I loved that the guys built an iPad into the wall with their tumblr account up, so you can browse through their plethora of pizza gifs and content.
Watch your step!
Exercise your inner pizza peeping tom with their secret peepholes!
I loved this cheesy rendition on an Exploited album, especially the pizza mohawk. And yet, no trip to Pizza Brain is complete without a visit to the adjacent Little Baby's Ice Cream with whom PB shares a roof.
Made with hints of oregano and tomato, I was hesitant to take a bite to say the least...
...but I really have to say- it's good, it really is. I don't know if I'd get down on more than a scoop (especially after housing 5 slices), but it was the perfect finish to my experience at Pizza Brain.
No, I take it back, this is the perfect finish. Serious pizza, serious memorabilia, seriously entertaining. Pizza Brain is a blast, and I can't wait to return.