One of the beauties of living in such a buzzing multicultural metropolis as London is the overwhelmingness of different cuisines – foodies are really spoilt for choice. Like from a sleek box of assorted chocolates, one can pick the flavoursome Ethiopian stews with Injera, scoop the palatable masala potatoes with the paperthin Indian dosa, eat his body weight in the hearty Australian pies – the options here are seemingly endless. But there are days when our taste buds crave something a bit more simple. Something slightly more carbolicious. More comforting. A pizza. But a vegan pizza?
For many years, the number of options a plant-based eater could resort to in Italian restaurants could be counted on one hand – marinated olives, bruschetta with grilled tomatoes, a lonesome bowl of salad without any dressing, pasta (and that wasn’t the creamy Carbonara), and a tomato-based pizza with a couple of olives sprinkled on top.
Fast-forward a couple of decades later, and the dishes one can choose are just as abundant as the number of places densely scattered across the capital. Have a look at some of our favourite gems that will dish up ʻʻa lovely (vegan) cheese pizza’’ just for you.
Before the joyous days of discovering new fully-vegan Italian restaurants, Zizzi was my go-to high street chain.
A warm,thin-crust rustica glazed with tomato sauce, fire-roasted peppers, coconut oil-based mozzarella, pea shoots, chillies and sunblush tomatoes…Fancy more nutrients? Add a few extra toppings – spinach, pine nuts, black olives, roasted red onions, field mushrooms or butternut squash.
But don’t go too crazy – save some space for their divine sticky chocolate and praline torte!
2. Pizza Express
For a long while, Pizza Express,another highly beloved high street restaurant chain amongst Brits, wasn’t the most vegan-friendly eatery. Olives for starters, a cheeseless pizza for mains and a lot of wine to drown the sorrows – one really did feel like back in the Medieval times.
But Autumn 2018 not only brought back our Pumpkin Spice Lattes but also came with a new Pizza Express vegan menu! Along with their classics such as Veneziana, Padana and Leggera Padana (under 600 calories), you can now also indulge and find comfort in Vegan Puttanesca with marinated meat-like jackfruit.
Fancy a night-in? You’re lucky – as of October, the Vegan Giardiniera will also be available at Waitrose. We really do live in a wonderful world.
A few years ago, my friend and I went to Brighton, the self-proclaimed ʻʻvegan mecca’’. Among the many things our plant-based taste buds got to savour – buttery croissants, creepily meaty chilli hot dogs, comforting American style pancakes -, we found ourselves returning to one locale more than others.
Purezza, now in Camden as well, is a fully-vegan eatery that will fulfil all your wishes – mac’n’cheese, cheesy dough balls, wood oven-baked lasagna, tiramisu (cannot recommend enough!), garlic bread, cheese platter to be devoured with a bottle (or two) of wine and of course pizza, an awful lot of pizza.
Ten variations, all of which can be made on a sourdough, gluten-free or hemp flour base and all of which will make you realise why my friend and I spent most of our budget there.
Run by two Italian chefs, Andrea and Cristiano, this small but homely place – that also happens to be the first 100% vegan pizza takeaway in London – really does know the real deal.
18 different options with 30 additional toppings – you do need a good hour to find the one. To make your life even harder, there’s a choice of six high grade flours all of which are blended at the premises – burnt wheat, turmeric, hemp, kamut, multigrain and spirulina. Health freaks or those keen to be a little adventurous, this place is for you!
If your taste buds fancy something a bit more exotic and unusual, make sure to give them a ring and book a table prior your visit – this place is quite tight and does get extremely busy!
5. NAMA Raw Artisan Foods
Probably the healthiest and most nutrient-dense out of the bunch because, as the name suggests, the pizza – just as everything on the menu (croquettes, pad thai, sushi, hazelnut mocha torte to name a few) – won’t be prepared in temperatures above 42C.
Crunchy walnut and courgette crust submerged in tomato sauce with generous scoops of macadamia-based ‘ricotta’ topped with veggies and a sprinkle of almond ‘parmesan’. As if this combination didn’t sound mouthwatering enough, not only will this leave your tummy happy and satisfied but also full of vital vitamins, enzymes and minerals. Your mom would be proud!
6. Dear Pizza
Fancy something a little bit less fancy and extravagant? If a raw pizza doesn’t sound comforting enough or the next maintenance loan is weeks away but the ʻʻI want a pizza right here, right now’’ thoughts won’t leave you alone, then Dear Pizza is right up your alley.
Some of the largest pizzas in London for the lowest prices and now available with mock meat substitutes and dairy-free cheese?
A poor graduate.
7. Wedge Issue
ʻʻOne of the seven best pizza places in London’’ (GQ Magazine) that has also appeared on ʻʻThe best vegan eating in London’’ by the Evening Standard. And it’s easy to see why.
Wedge Issue is a small venture that in the fiercely competitive London’s pizza scene has earned a respectable following of both non-vegans and vegans. Their authentic, 72-hour proofed thin-crust pizzas are the way pizzas should be – simple and unostentatious, so one could truly appreciate the sweetness of San Marzano tomatoes.
Unlike the majority of ‘conventional’ Italian restaurants, the menu here offers more than just one vegan option. Priced at £10, the seven different pizzas come with melty gooeyness of dairy-free cheese and flavoursome toppings such as spicy seitan and vegan chorizo. But wait, there’s more…
For just an extra pound, you can also order vegan aioli to dip your crusts in! A dairy and egg-free garlic mayo! Life just got a little better!
Have some extra space left or crave something sweet? Wedge Issue also serves a chocolate pizza with fresh strawberries on top. With this vegan pizza, could life get any better?
Throw on the loosest pair of trousers, my friend, because we are going on a vegan pizza crawl!