Once again, we found ourselves on a working vacation. This time, I was recruiting at a high school theatre festival and teaching a workshop. Mr. Sweetspot taught a workshop, and got to take one, at Lucid Body House in the city. It was a balance of work and fun, with lots of delicious food and a chance to see King Kong on Broadway (I can’t lie- I’ve been obsessed with the show and was looking for a NYC opportunity for a while. Totally worth it, we highly recommend it!). The second day of the conference concluded at 2pm- early enough to have lots of fun, but not early enough to take the bus home. We were staying in Brooklyn, so we decided to embark on the search for the holy grail of vegan food- pizza!
Ooey, gooey pizza! If you’ve eaten cheese before, you know what this is supposed to taste like. Yum! Pizza is seriously the only food I miss. Mr. Ss and I went vegetarian for very different reasons. His are centered around health and the environment… mine were more primal. Ever since I was little, I always saw meat as dead flesh. It grossed me out, so as soon as I was independent enough to not feel like my parents could “make me” do something, I quit eating it. The year was 2000 and I was 16 years old. I was vegan for a year in grad school, but I switched back. In February of 2018, we watched “Cowspiracy”, and both decided to go fully vegan. It was a fairly easy switch because we were vegetarian for over a decade, and at that time, we didn’t buy animal products for the house, but we’d still have them occasionally when we were out. As one friend called it “vegan in the sheets, vegetarian in the streets”. Art openings, potlucks, dinners with friends– we’d indulge in cheese. That said, this encapsulated maybe 5% of our diet at the time, so it was an easy switch. It doesn’t hurt that Mr. Ss is an amazing chef! But we do miss pizza!
If there’s a place that can grant vegan wishes like some weird genie- it’s probably hipster central, aka Brooklyn. We decided to conduct an experiment, and among the many fun things we were doing that day (shout out to “Center for Fiction” and “Urban Glass”) we decided to try vegan pizza in lots of different places, to once and for all settle the question: “Does delightful vegan pizza exist?”
Warning: the following contains graphic description of the unreasonable amounts of food we consumed in only six hours! We do not recommend anyone eats like this, unless they are a part of a groundbreaking food quest!
We started with Screamers. It was the highest rated place online, it came recommended by our Airbnb host, and it was entirely vegan. We had to check it out. After a 30 minute subway ride, our appetites were frisky, and we were ready. The small storefront was packed, sold pizza by the pie or by the slice, was filled with alternative stickers and band posters, and had a small eating area. We ordered 3 slices: plain cheese (the ultimate test!), jalapeño chorizo and a supreme. We sprinkled them with “parmesan” and ate away. The crust and sauce were awesome! The toppings were amazing! The jalapeño chorizo combo was really good. The cheese? They use Daiya, which is pretty gross and oily. We were torn, because we loved the place, but it didn’t satisfy that pizza craving. The quest had to continue.
Next was Paulie Gee’s. We walked there, which took well over an hour. Mistakes were made, as right next to Screamers, there was a vegan ice cream place. We had to stop for a scoop! (It was amazing, vegan ice cream always is, there’s no quest in this search, it’s almost always fantastic). We also saw a vegan buffet, at which point of time we wanted to rest our feet for a bit… so we did, while eating mac ‘n cheese and steak with peppers. Yummy, and the break was rejuvenating! We also had a beer- mistake number 3 in a food quest! When we arrived at Paulie Gee’s, we discovered that it was a full restaurant with a giant wait to be seated, selling only made-to-order pies. Further investigation with the hostess revealed that they had a slice shop 2 blocks down, so we headed over there.
The slice shop had a long line of customers, and it was both vegan and omnivore. We waited anxiously, as the cheese they used- “Numu”, was not one we were familiar with. We again ordered a plain slice of cheese, and the vegan “Freddie Prince”, a square cut deep-dish, with house made vegan sausage. The tomato sauce and thin crust were pedestrian. The deep dish crust rocked. The cheese was delicious, but there was very little of it on the actual slice. If there was 4 times as much cheese, this place could have been the winner, satisfying any and all pizza craving. As is, it wasn’t great. They do have free refills on soda though, which came as a nice surprise.
Before hitting up Vinnie’s, our final stop on the pizza tour, we did a bit of thrifting and continued walking… but we were pretty stuffed. We were also fairly tired by the time we arrived, so upon seeing the teenage mutant ninja turtle bench outside, I collapsed on it and told Mr. Ss to order whatever. Again, the shop was packed, and when he finally emerged, he was holding a mac ‘n cheese pizza and a pepperoni basil (they didn’t have a plain cheese). Both were awesome, and the place was super cool- it was clear they had a love for pizza. That said, the cheese topping, “Tease”, still didn’t satisfy the pizza craving. Since I didn’t go inside at first, once we finished eating and the line subsided, we checked it out together. The tiny interior was really cool and I immediately noticed they had vegan wings on the menu (Mistake #4). While stuffed, I had to try those, and with a side of vegan ranch, they were truly awesome.
Our quest left us fit to burst but it was very fun. That said, we did not find the perfect vegan pizza. I’m ok with that. We’ll keep trying at home (Mr. Ss makes some pretty good cheese and he’s getting better!) and keep searching any time we’re out. As it’s the only food I ever miss, it’s a small sacrifice. And it makes for a great quest!
How about you- any vegan pizza recommendations or food quest stories?