I FIRST MET Joe Hunter when he worked at D’Allesandro’s pizza shop in Charleston, South Carolina. When I heard he had moved to Philadelphia to help open a pizza shop, I was sold — Joe’s pizzas are the bomb, and Philly is my favorite city in America. Pizza Brain is shaping the way people eat, produce business, and come together as a community.

To celebrate Pi Day, (March 14, 3.14…get it?), here are some images from my recent visit to Pizza Brain. If you’re in the Philly area, I recommend checking them out (the attached ice cream shop also serves pizza-flavored ice cream).

All photos by Tom Cappellino.


Welcome to Pizza Brain

Pizza Brain opened on September 7, 2012, in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. It is decorated with items from owner and pizza enthusiast Brian Dwyer's collection of over 1,000 pizza memorabilia pieces.


Pizza Museum

The restaurant also doubles as a pizza "museum," and is the first of it's kind in the United States. Dwyer's unique collection earned him a Guinness World Record in 2011. About 30% of his collection is on display.


Delicious, delicious pizza

This ain't your normal slice of pizza, folks. Pizza Brain specializes in "gourmet 'za," combining locally-sourced ingredients to create eclectic pies, like the Esteban Destino, baked with roasted pork, cilantro, lime juice, jalapenos, and blackbeans, and the Bernie Templeton, which uses goat cheese, potatoes, fresh rosemary, scallions, and bacon -- sort of like a baked potato pizza, if you will.


Makin' 'za

Pizza making is no joke. Chef Joe Hunter showed me the entire process, from start to finish; kneading all that dough, and working with heavy machinery, has permanently changed the muscle mass in one of Joe's arms.


Touches of Philly

Pizza Brain has totally embraced its place in the land of cheesesteaks, and Rocky stairs. "It's such a historically weird, mysterious, and often-overlooked place," remarked Dwyer. "And one that's pigeon-holed a lot by outsiders. In our mind, that’s incredibly fertile ground for authentic creative expression to take place."


Pizza art

Pizza Brain's patio is decorated with Philly-centric art. Local artist James ‘Hawk’ Krall created the 40-foot "pizzalebrity" mural, and the ground-to-roof mosaic was put together by Isaiah Zagar, the man behind Philadelphia's Magic Gardens.


The brain behind Pizza Brain

Dwyer and Hunter have been friends since 2011, and both actively contribute to the running of the restaurant (on the day of this shoot, Dwyer was found behind the counter, chatting with customers and taking orders). "Pizza, and the culture attached to it, is a shared experience," said Dwyer. "I think Philly, and Pizza Brain, truly revels in that fact."