Pizza Brain combines with Federal Donuts

Two small businesses join to present a chili garlic chicken honey pizza.

Federal Donuts and Pizza Brain have come together to form a creation that would make Homer Simpson’s mouth water. 

Initially introduced on November’s First Friday, customers can catch the two businesses’ creation during December’s First Friday: the chili garlic chicken honey donut pie.

But what draws together pizza, donuts and fried chicken? A love for local food.

“The best part has been experimenting, which is fun for me as a chef,” said Chef Matthew Fein of Federal Donuts. “It is a great thing for two small businesses to get in the spotlight and gain a following on the Philly food scene.”

Federal Donuts came into the Philadelphia food scene with an unusual combination of fried chicken and donuts at its first location in the Pennsport neighborhood. It became so popular that a second location was opened on Sansom Street in Center City, followed by a stand at Citizen’s Bank Park.

Pizza Brain, which is a little more than a year old, has reveled in being known for its quirkiness. It has been recognized in press for its pizza, as well as for being the world’s first pizza museum.

Now, their worlds have come together for what was meant to be a one-time event for First Friday. The event was so well-received that it has become a monthly tradition. For November’s event, Little Baby’s Ice Cream joined in the collaboration, creating a new ice cream flavor with Federal Donuts’ pumpkin spice latte donut.

“We call it ‘Federal Frydays,’” said Brian Dwyer, one of the founders of Pizza Brain. “We’re going to keep it going as long as people keep asking for it. Hell, even if they don’t, we’ll probably keep doing it because it’s too damn fun not to.”

The specialty pizza, sold by the slice, features chili garlic fried chicken with Federal Donuts’ traditional honey donut, a spicy and sweet combination. Both Federal Donuts and Pizza Brain said they were willing to go in on this new venture.

“One morning at the shop we all sat at a table, knocked around a few ideas, tasted a few things, and within probably 30 minutes, this food baby came out,” Dwyer said. “Once we all tasted it, it was unanimous that it ruled. As far as we know, there’s never been a pizza, donut, chicken creation in the history of pizza, donuts or chicken like this before. We’re proud to start that conversation.”

“We worked together for choosing flavors for the pizza,” Fein said. “We worked with existing flavors and eventually decided on the chili glaze with the honey donut on top. It gives customers the full experience with the chicken and donut and pizza.”

In addition to the First Friday pie, Pizza Brain sells slices of pies off its menu, rotating each week. Each pie has its own name and toppings. Some of these include the Charlie Mayfer, a pie with mozzarella, sweet potato, honey crisp apple, honey goat cheese, brown sugar, pecan and pie spice and the Bob Schieldsmoose, a pie with bleu cheese, beef brisket, garlic, horseradish, mozzarella and rosemary. Both white and red pies are available, in addition to vegetarian and vegan options.

Along with the Federal Donuts crew, Pizza Brain teamed up with Crime and Punishment Brewpub to preview its new craft brews before it plans to open a location in Brewerytown. Featured brews have included Truancy, a peanut butter and jelly ale, and a farmhouse ale.

All of this collaboration has sparked interest in both Federal Donuts and Pizza Brain to continue working with other restaurants throughout the city.

“We are looking to do collaborations more often when we open our next stores,” Fein said. “We hope to have more space and will actively seek out businesses to work with.”

“Coming in 2014, every month we plan on teaming up with another small business that we think rules,” Dwyer said. “So far a lot of amazing restaurants have signed on. Faces will melt. Everybody wins.”

Sarae Gdovin can be reached at

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