Before I moved to Philadelphia from Wisconsin in 2005, friends told me I needed to visit a cheese shop called Di Bruno Bros. in the Italian Market. When I arrived in July, this narrow store with salamis hanging from the ceiling was one of my first stops. Now, the store feels like my home away from home.
Seven years later, I am blogging for the company and writing what will be the first ever Di Bruno Bros. Cheese Guide. It’s happening. My transformation from midwest milkmaid to east coast dairy queen seems complete, except for one thing.
I wanted a behind-the-counter tour. So, to finalize my baptism, I recently asked Ezekial Ferguson, cheesemonger emissary and fermentation guru, to take me on a basement-to-rooftop safari.
For history lovers and Di Bruno Bros. obsessants, here is a glimpse into the original store at 930 S. 9th Street. You can still see traces of Danny and Joe Di Bruno, who opened their doors back in the ‘30s to sell the city’s first “Bro-volone.”
The Basement: Ever wondered what lives under a cheese shop? In this case, house-aged red wine vinegar. Yes, those oak barrels are full. They’ll impart a warm, woodsy taste to an otherwise ordinary condiment.
First Floor: Ever wonder what’s in the back room behind the counter? An old safe from the early days. It’s empty now, except for the occasional salami.
Second floor: Upstairs, you’ve got mission control. This is where orders get placed and lunches get microwaved by a zombie cheesmonger who dons a fez.
Third floor: As you might imagine, there are a few bones in the attic. Roof access offers a glimpse of the Italian Market that few get to see, except on a coffee break.
For more wild adventures, please visit Madame Fromage.