Yesterdays' Arizona pizza post and its mention of Organ Stop Pizza inspired me to do a little more digging on this surreal combination of pizza and pipes. That there were ever—and still are—pipe-organ pizzerias is something that never ceases to amaze me. But I'm also saddened that these places are quickly disappearing. Above, Dean Cook, former house musician at the now-defunct Angelino's in San Jose, California, briefly explains the history of this unlikely pairing before launching in to a rousing number.
In short Cook says that around 1958, a Haywood, California, man installed a Mighty Wurlitzer organ after having enjoyed organ recitals at San Francisco's Fox Theater. "And history was made," Cook says. "There were soon places like this all across the United States. Here in the Bay Area alone, at one time in the '70s, the heyday, there were 14 of these places."
Angelino's was the last one left in the region at the time of this video, but it closed in 2008, shortly after this was video was shot. More videos after the jump.
Mighty Wurlizter History
Robert Hope-Jones originally designed the Wurlitzer theater organ in the early 1900s, and they were soon installed in movie theaters during to accompany the silent films of the Silent Era. Mighty Wurlitzers functioned as a one-man orchestras, and they could be augmented with percussion, pianos, and other instruments—as well as various sound effects (train whistles, aah-oo-gah car horns) to further enhance the movie-going experience.
Where to Go
If you want to hear pipes while eating pizza, there are very few of these places left. Here are the places still open that I've been able to find.
View Pipe-Organ Pizzerias in a larger map
- Organ Stop Pizza: 1149 East Southern Avenue, Mesa AZ 85204 (map); 480-813-5700; organstoppizza.com
- Organ Piper Pizza: 4353 South 108th Street, Greenfield WI 53228 (map); 414-529-1177; organpiperpizza.com
- Roaring '20s Pizza and Pipes: 6750 North US 301, Ellenton FL 34222 (map); 941-723-1733; roaring20spizza.com
- Beggar's Pizza: 3524 Ridge Road, Lansing IL 60438 (map); 708-418-3500; beggarspizza.com