13th Street Gourmet Pizza
209 South 13th St Philadelphia, PA 19107
(Map); 215-546-4453; 13th Street Gourmet Pizza
Pizza type: Pizza parlor-style
Oven type: Gas oven
The Skinny: Pizza that's great drunk or sober, best followed by one of their inner-kid-friendly dessert pies.
Price:Small Dessert Pizza $8, Small Plain Pizza $10
13th Street Gourmet Pizza has long been my go-to for a late night slice. Fondly referred to as "Gay Pizza" by Philly locals who frequent the predominantly gay neighborhood, it's usually got a line stretching down the street after the bars close. It's the perfect way to extend your party just a little longer.
It was on one such night that I saw them slide a pie out of their oven and unload a snowstorm of confectioner's sugar over it.
"What...is...that...dreamboat...?," I sputtered.
"A peanut butter jelly pie."
My eyes lit up. "I'll take a slice!" "Full pie only," he told me. Joy shattered. It was late, and I was tired. But an idea was planted. "One day," I told myself, "I will go back. I will order that pie, and I will be overjoyed."
That day was last Wednesday. I strode into that pizzeria, planted myself in front of the register, ignoring all the square slices staring up at me from behind the plastic partition.
"One large peanut butter and jelly pie please!" I announced.
"We don't make those anymore!" a voice rang out from behind the pizza oven. "We have other dessert pies if you want. You want one with apples?"
The color drained from my face. Dessert pie? With apples? I've had those sad excuses before. Neither pizza nor dessert, they're usually sloppy premade messes.
He saw my look of disappointment. "There's another dessert pizza, with frosting and Oreos. I can make one special for you." The color returned to my face. "Frosting?" I asked tentatively. "And oreos," he said gently, kindly.
I also ordered a large plain pie out of curiosity. 13th Street Gourmet is known more for their hearty, square slices with heavy toppings: nachos, for instance, macaroni and cheese, or buffalo chicken. Their plain was an unknown variable.
We dug into the Cheese Neapolitan ($10) first, because duh, we're grownups. Dinner before dessert pizza. The crust was soft on the inside, crunchy on the outside, a uniform light brown across the bottom. A light, simple, oregano-y tomato sauce, covered with a heavy dose of your basic mozz. The ratio was just right and the slice flew down my throat.
We quickly reheated the Dessert Pizza ($8). My excitement grew as I gazed upon it in all its melty glory. A thick crust smeared with chocolate frosting, topped liberally with plain M&M's, crushed Oreos, and chocolate chips. If this had been served at my 6th grade birthday party, I would've impressed the hell out of all my friends. I bit in. The gooey mass glided across my tongue. Success. The toppings were a delight, and the patches with heavy chocolate chips really sang. The different textures were really lovely too: liquidy frosting, thicker melted chips, crumbly cookies, the crunch of the candy. But the crust—premade focaccia-style—was just a little too thick and savory to really fully realize its potential as a dessert pie.
I envision myself on a day where everything goes wrong: where I have PMS and I lose my wallet and I slip and fall and get mud all over my jeans and have a huge fight with my bestie. On this day, 13th Street Gourmet's dessert pie is exactly what I would want. Something indulgent, over the top, heavy, and appealing to the kid in me. Comfort food. The dessert pie doesn't impress your foodie side or satisfy your normal-day dessert side. But it speaks straight to the child inside who needs a hug on a crap day.