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9 of Philly's odd but tasty pizzas

You can get a margherita or mushroom or pepperoni anywhere. How about some more ambitious options?

You can get a margherita or mushroom or pepperoni anywhere.

How about some more ambitious options?

Cheeseburger Pie at Birra

"This is what makes us different," says Birra owner Gordon Dinerman of his selection of oddball pizzas, which come topped with stuff that normally appears on a plate: mac 'n' cheese, spaghetti and meatballs, roasted duck. On the menu since day one, the cheeseburger entry on this weirdly delicious list snatches everything you love off the bun and places it on a patty-free pedestal. Starting with a base layer of creme fraiche, the pizza's built like a Big Mac that's actually good — hunks of dry-aged beef, provolone and mozzarella, housemade pickles, oven-cured tomatoes, romaine, sesame seeds and a big dollop of Thousand Island-ish "secret sauce" in the edible epicenter.

$16, Birra, 1700 E. Passyunk Ave., 267-324-3127,

Reuben Pie at Birra

Chef Paulie Giganti's first job was at a bagel shop in his native Brooklyn, so he's no shlemiel when it comes to deli specialties. This "Americano" option off his pizza-heavy menu delivers the classic flavors of a reuben sandwich in a round, foldable format. After applying a thin spread of housemade Russian dressing to the bare crust, Giganti piles on sauerkraut, Gruyere cheese ("It melts better than Swiss") and handfuls of corned beef he cures himself. A decidedly non-skimpy lattice of more Russian dressing, plus a toss of caraway seeds to ape the effect of fresh rye, finish off this zaftig bit of Jewish-Italian diplomacy.

$16, Birra, 1700 E. Passyunk Ave., 267-324-3127,

Charles Mayfer at Pizza Brain

Display space for a mere sliver of co-owner Brian Dwyer's Guinness World Record-holding pizza memorabilia collection, Kensington's character-stuffed slice shop has a far-reaching reputation for irreverence. A little surprising, then, to note that many of the pizzas on the Brain's menu are traditional in approach. That doesn't meant these dough jockeys don't sprint way left-field once in awhile, though. Take the "Charles Mayfer," a seasonally in-tune combo of sweet potatoes, honeycrisp apples, mozzarella and honey-kissed goat cheese, seasoned right with oven-crisped sprinkles of brown sugar and pie spice.

$22, Pizza Brain, 2313 Frankford Ave., 215-291-2965,

Headcheese Pizza at Zavino

Headcheese on a pizza. Headcheese in general. Wait, where are you going?! Fans of this nifty, thrifty old-school meat product swear by it (no cheese involved, just plenty of cranium-culled goodness via swines and bovines), but it's understandably challenging for many. Cue Zavino chef Carlos Aparicio, who's thin-slicing his own housemade stuff for an entry-level headcheese hello. Balancing the rich, fatty nature of the unmistakable ingredient with horseradish bechamel and sinus-singing fresh horseradish shavings, Aparicio rounds out each slice with chopped arugula, red onion and mozzarella. It'll be kicking around Zavino as a special for the remainder of December.

$16, 112 S. 13th St., 215-732-2400,

Potato Pizza at La Rosa

One of South Broad Street's most spartan pizza shacks, La Rosa is not going to win any interior design awards, but anyone who's downed at least one of their thick, crispy quadrilateral pieces will remind you that it's all about what's inside that instantly recognizable red and white box. They'll throw anything you want on your order, but their most famous variety might be the carbo-loaded potato, a white pie topped with cheese and mandolined taters as thin as Yellowbook pages. The slices, hooked up with rosemary and generous shakes of black pepper, brown and curl in the oven for a totally tuber-lar crispy-crunchy experience.

$12.75, La Rosa Pizzeria, 2106 S. Broad St., 215-271-5246

Al Pastor Pizza at Rosario's

A number of Mexican-owned pizzerias in Philly offer traditional tacos alongside traditional takeout, but Point Breeze's always-open-late Rosario's has the most fun combining the two disciplines. Tinga pollo, mole poblano, salsa verde and chorizo all find their way onto various pies, but our favorite is the al pastor, a boxed-up take on Puebla's beloved spit-roasted pork and pineapple. A mild guajillo pepper sauce gets topped with mozzarella and what you'd typically find lined inside doubled-up tortillas — succulent slices of sweet pork, chunks of pineapple and a touch of cilantro. Viva La Mexico by way of Napoli.

$9-$15.50, 1501 Wharton St., 215-755-4555,

Choriqueso Pizza at Rosario's

Providing a little more heat than its pastor-al counterpart, Rosario's choriqueso satisfies spice fans with unconventional toppings. Fatty crumbles of hot chorizo, studded into a melty bed of chihuahua and mozzarella cheeses, chill out with onions and grilled-and-sliced nopales (prickly pear) over a salsa roja that stands in for marinara.

$9.75-$18.50, 1501 Wharton St., 215-755-4555,

The McTigue at Rustica

"It's one of those almost cult-like things," says Rustica owner Frank Maimone in describing the sneaky popularity of his McTigue, which matches super-sweet figs, pine nuts, gorgonzola and fresh basil with a tangy balsamic glaze. The long-running NoLibs pizzeria has always been known for its unconventional flavor combos, but this particular pie has taken on a specific and unexpected role on order tickets. "When people order a bunch and have a pizza party, they'll often have one of those at the end — almost like a dessert," says Maimone.

$19.50-$22.50, Rustica, 903 N. Second St., 215-627-1393,

Pizzazz at Celebre's

The grandpappy of all weird Philly pizza lives on Packer Avenue. Snobby out-of-town purists tend to cry heresy at Celebre's infamous Pizzazz, but that just means it's unequivocally ours, all ours. The oldest-school destination doubles up its substantial crust with layers of (GASP!) American cheese, topping it with tomato slices and everything on the shaker counter — olive oil, salt, black pepper, garlic, oregano. Yellow hot peppers (like the ones you get on your hoagie) are an optional but always-suggested addition.

(How much hate is out there? Check this.)

$13-$13.75, 1536 Packer Ave., 215-467-3255,