If you had to find a home for the world’s first and only museum dedicated to all things pizza, you’d probably put it in New York City, home of the thin, triangular slices, or Chicago, where deep-dish pies rule. Maybe it’d be somewhere in Italy, where the art of pizza was perfected.

But I bet you’d never think to put it in Philadelphia (even though that’s exactly where it is today).


I went to college with a guy named Joe, who worked at a pizza place in the rougher part of town. Even though Bogard Street in Charleston had seen better days, I still made the trek up there on my bike to have a slice of pizza from D’Allesandro’s, where Joe was the master pie maker.

The pizzas there were not like the pizza I was used to back in New York – these pizzas had fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, and interesting combinations: Olive oil base, Guava Jam, goat cheese, jalapenos. Red sauce, mozzarella, feta, bacon, red onion, pineapple, drizzle of bbq sauce. Mozzarella, goat cheese, bacon, golden beets, rosemary. Mmmmmm…


Fast-forward to 2009, when I went to visit Joe in his new home of Philadelphia. I love Philly as it is, but was even more excited when Joe told me of a new project he was involved in. It was awesome to hear him talk about his passion for pizza, but what I didn’t realize was that there were people out there who liked pizza more than he did…

A Pizza Museum is born


Pizza Brain officially opened in the fall of 2012. The concept came from a guy named Brian Dwyer, whose obsession with pizza led him to make it a career all its own. I remember watching the restaurant’s progression online, from its Kickstarter campaign (which earned them over $16,587), to the opening day festivities. Now, I head there every time I’m in the City of Brotherly Love. Sometimes I go even if I don’t have any other reason to visit Philly except to have some pizza.

That says a lot, coming from a New Yorker!


The restaurant is large enough to hold a good amount of people (up to 50, so I’ve heard), and Brian’s personal collection provides its own decorative elements. Only a fraction of pizza memorabilia is displayed however; some of the pieces are rotated out, or added, at different times of the year.

It was a lot of fun to see some of the pizza items I grew up with – Ninja Turtles toys, the Noid from Domino’s, pictures from Home Alone and other movies/TV shows that prominently featured pizza. In 2011, Brian won a Guinness Book World Record for having “the world’s largest collection of pizza-related items.”


Joe himself has some pretty rad pizza tattoos, and it was really cool to watch him make the pizza dough from scratch, learning more about the pizza-making process. I admire his involvement in the shop, and love the witty banter between Brian and he. It’s one thing to get together with your friends to catch up and split a pizza – it’s another thing to own and work in one of the coolest pizza shops in the world, and feel like it’s no big deal.

The coolest types of pizza


Pizza Brain is no ordinary pizzeria. All of their recipes are truly unique and unlike anything else. You can go for a slice of Jane, which is probably as close to a normal slice of pizza that you can find, or you can order something a little more on the gourmet side, such as the Granny Divjack, made with mozzarella, gorgonzola, almonds, Granny Smith apples, and caramelized onions, or something totally bizarre, like the Whur Herbert, which uses a fancy sauce, a sesame seed crust, seared hamburger, spicy mustard, and pickled red onion.

I got to enjoy the Bernie Templeton, which combines goat cheese, potatoes, fresh rosemary, scallions, and bacon. It was unlike any kind of pizza I’ve ever eaten, sort of like a baked potato in pizza form.


Keep in mind that Pizza Brain relies largely on seasonal produce, so a pie you try in the fall might not be there in the spring. Rest assured though, the pizza chefs will have some awesome specials going on, and they are worth trying even if your favorite combination is no longer available.

Keepin’ it local


What I love most about Pizza Brain, is how it has formed some seriously cool local partnerships. Artists from the area, including the famous Philly muralist Isaiah Zagar (the man behind Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens), and James ‘Hawk’ Krall, have their work on display. Outside in the patio area is a the 40-foot “pizzalebrity” mural, which is made up of both local Philly stars, and famous pizza people.

Brian seeks out ingredients from specialty food shops (like elk sausage from a startup butcher in the area), and inside the shop itself is Little Baby’s Ice Cream shop, which even has a pizza-flavored ice cream (it’s actually quite good, with a strong basil taste!).


If you ever get to Philadelphia, venture out of the Philly-Cheesesteak-and-Water-Ice-zone, and treat yourself to one of the most unforgettable pizza experiences you’ll ever have. It’s especially fun to enjoy a drink and a pie outside in the summer, and Brian is usually around and happy to chat about all things pizza. You’ll feel right at home the minute you step through the door. And definitely try the ice cream, it’s unreal!


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