One of the best things about originally being from New Jersey and having lived in Philadelphia as well, is knowing good pizza. The Philly/NJ/NYC area has many great Italian restaurants and pizzerias that I deeply miss when I’m in any other part of the country.
So whenever we are back in NJ or Philly visiting loved ones, we hit up places where I can get a good slice. Since going vegan many years ago, I’ve developed a penchant for tomato pie. The classic version is a sicilian-style, thick rectangular crust with tomato sauce, garlic on occasion, and no cheese. I’ll take other varieties (i.e. thinner crusts, an occasional veggie topping, etc.), as long as there is no cheese of any kind (plant-based or animal’s milk).
This past Labor Day weekend, we were in our home state and I picked up a copy of Philadelphia Magazine which was featuring the Best of Philly. I saw Pizza Brain, new to the Fishtown/Kensington area of Philadelphia (and featuring the world’s first museum of pizza culture) mentioned a few times as it was voted best pizza. We made sure to hit up Pizza Brain on our way back to upstate New York and we were not disappointed.
Pizza Brain carries the renowned Daiya vegan cheese, but we wanted straight up, old school tomato pie. Many people outside of the Philly metro area may think you’re crazy when you ask for pizza without the cheese, but true tomato heads know what’s up. A good slice of tomato pie is pizza in its purest form. Luckily, the proprietors of Pizza Brain must know this as well. The first pie on their menu is called the Tom and features a robust tomato sauce and fresh basil (yes, you can get Daiya cheese for $5 more, but it really isn’t necessary).
Some may scoff at $12 for a pizza, but this sucker was huge! We shared it amongst four of us, which breaks down to $1.50 a slice and it really is a steal. The crust was the perfect thickness, not too thin (although I love thinner crust too) and not too thick. The edges were chewy and filling. The sauce was amazing and rich, no skimping here. The flecks of fresh basil set it off as well and really completed the flavor profile.
The other wonderful thing about Pizza Brain’s location is that they are right next to Little Baby’s Ice Cream and even share a door connecting the two establishments. So right after you’ve had the best pizza ever, you can have a fantastic cone. They have many flavors of coconut based vegan ice cream that are phenomenal, but I’ll save those details for another post.
If you are in the Philly area and have the chance to go to Pizza Brain, I highly recommend it.