Seventy–five years ago, the DiBruno brothers landed on Ellis Island. Afterwards they wound up in Philly, where they opened a family grocery store in the Italian market. Fifty years ago, Danny DiBruno went to Switzerland, sampled the world’s best cheeses and transformed Di Bruno’s into a gourmet cheese shop.
Today, Di Bruno’s is known for its cured meats, pasta, bread, aged provolone and artisanal Italian cheeses. I figured that Di Bruno’s must be called the “House of Cheese” for a reason, so I set aside an afternoon to go on a cheese tour of Italy in my own backyard. Make no mistake: Di Bruno’s did not disappoint.
It was love at first sight as I walked down the aisles—my grocery cart overflowing with marinara sauce, pesto sauce, candied walnuts, heirloom tomatoes, prosciutto, rotisserie chicken, asparagus, fusilli and farfalle. But then I found the Disneyland of cheese counters. There were huge wheels of provolone, gouda, cheddar and gruyere—all bathed in tantalizing golden light.
I befriended the cheese expert behind the counter, Joe. He gave me every cheese sample I could possibly want. I started my tasting with a light, flaky parmesan—the ideal topping for the marinara pasta I would have that night for dinner. Next I moved onto a soft, fudgy brie, a sharp cheddar and a sweet, fruity gouda. Joe told me he couldn’t be friends with anyone who likes mild blue cheese, so I ended my cheese tour with a sharp, salty blue cheese.
I exercised great self–control as I walked past the dessert counter—a decadent display of carrot cakes, cheesecakes, fruit tarts and chocolate mousse. As an added bonus, because I have resting niceface, the grocers called me sweetheart and encouraged me to come back for more free samples.
The “House of Cheese” may have been born seventy–five years ago, but Center City has been a better, yummier place ever since.