• pizza fusion, where were you a year ago?!

    July 7th, 2009quarrygirlLA restaurants, pizza fusion
    very vegan: crimini mushrooms, roasted garlic, tomato sauce and soy cheese. $16.99

    very vegan: crimini mushrooms, roasted garlic, tomato sauce and soy cheese. $16.99

    there’s been a lot of vegan-friendly places popping up around los angeles lately, and one of the most recent is the “organic” and self-proclaimed “eco-friendly” pizza fusion in santa monica. the green pizzeria offers both vegan and gluten-free crust options (although the two are mutually exclusive), along with vegan cheese supplied by follow your heart. while an environmentally-conscious pizza place with clearly marked vegan options is undeniably a major score, i can’t help but wonder what it would have felt like had pizza fusion arrived on the scene a year ago.

    lemme take you back. in july of 2008 we were just coming off the fact that zpizza’s soy cheese was not vegan. the only place to get a huge vegan take-out pie was at damiano mr. pizza pizza on fairfax. although it wasn’t ideal, we lived with damiano for 6 more months until something magical happened—purgatory pizza in boyle heights announced that they would be rolling out their popular nyc style pizzas with vegan cheese. but not just that follow your heart stuff, no, purgatory were first to offer the best vegan cheese available stateside at the time, teese cheese from chicago soy dairy. and it’s on that day—february 1, 2009—that vegan pizza in LA was forever changed. companies started to realize that vegans wanted pizza more than anything, and we didn’t just want this old, un-melted follow your heart crap. the next pizzeria to have satisfactory vegan offerings was lucifer’s pizza in los feliz. they first offered a falsely advertised non-vegan soy cheese, but after coming under some fire, they changed their tune and started serving up huge thin and crispy pies with teese as well.

    then along came daiya…i’m sure you have heard all about it by now. daiya is a stretchy, tasty, melty vegan product that behaves almost exactly like real cheese. i’d go as far as to call it game changing. it hit the blogosphere first, then showed up at the online vegan store pangea available for personal order. just when it was beginning to make a major splash nearing the end of may, one LA pizza place got their hands on daiya and completely raised the bar. cruzer pizza, with locations in los feliz and glendale, started using the new stretchy cheese, along with an arsenal of fake meats and pasta dishes.

    in less than 2 months, vegan pizza in LA went from hard to find to readily available. within a short period of time, purgatory also adopted daiya cheese and even several local whole foods began selling daiya covered pizzas at a very low price. wow. it used to be bloody impossible to get animal-free pizza in los angeles, and then all of a sudden amazing, stretchy, revolutionary vegan cheese was available as close as the nearest whole foods. epic.

    oh, and then came pizza fusion. a chain started in 2006, pizza fusion is an eatery dedicated to being fashionably green. they deliver pizzas in hybrid prius vehicles, boast that all their ingredients are organic, and have token vegan menu items including a pizza covered in follow your heart cheese, as well as a gluten-free brownie.


    let’s start with the vegan pizza. i can’t even tell you how stoked i would have been about this pie in july of 2008. a decent pizzeria with cruelty-free options was basically unheard of back then. i would have eaten at pizza fusion everyday! but one year later, what with the introduction of vegan new york pizza with teese, and now with this amazing daiya cheese product…i find it kinda difficult to get stoked on a thin crust organic pizza with follow your heart, aka vegan cheese 1.0.

    sorry dudes, pizza fusion is decent, don’t get me wrong. if i were in sanmo i would probably hit up this place frequently, i just feel that LA has much better options now. i’m so stoked that this is a chain serving vegan pizza, but until they step up the quality of the sauce, crust, and vegan cheese…why not just go to your local daiya-serving whole foods location, which is bound to be way cheaper than pizza fusion. oh and on a side note, the staff were also pretty unknowledgeable about the vegan-ness of the food. it took us about 10 minutes of back and forth with the waiter to determine whether or not the crust was vegan…and we found out the gluten-free crust is not, but the normal crust is. gah, it was too much confusion for me to handle!

    although it wasn’t as good as the stuff we get at purgatory, cruzer, or even whole foods, our pizza from pizza fusion was definitely edible…which is more than i can say for the brownie. with a hungry stomach, i ordered the vegan and gluten-free treat that the menu describes as “delicious”. i hate to say it, but i took one bite of pizza fusion’s brownie and didn’t even want to bring it home. marginally tasty, it reminded me of diet food. perhaps i am just too spoiled with so many talented vegan bakers living in los angeles, but this stuff just tasted like a gym snack.

    fresh homemade vegan brownie. $4.99

    fresh homemade vegan brownie. $4.99

    so pizza fusion, is it worth your time? maybe. however my opinion is that it’s too little too late. if they wanted to show up on the los angeles scene with an all vegan, organic, follow your heart cheese option, maybe they should have arrived before i was spoiled with cruzer, purgatory, teese, and daiya.

    to put it as nicely as possible: if i was a new vegan, pizza fusion might impress the fuck out of me. but now, i simply know better.

    you should still go and check pizza fusion out…because, they have vegan stuff, eco-friendly containers, and prius cars. they also have tons of literature boasing about free-range meat. i hate to see places preaching about the environment while at the same time bragging that they ‘humanely’ murder animals. this place could be serving everything in styrofoam containers, and it would be doing a better service to the planet than selling animal flesh. they just don’t get it. ah well.

    so santa monica residents, this is a great place to visit when you can’t make it further east to cruzer, purgatory, or….when whole foods is closed.


    pizza fusion
    2901 Ocean Park Blvd
    Santa Monica, CA 90405-2919
    (310) 581-2901

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25 responses to “pizza fusion, where were you a year ago?!” RSS icon

  • Check out Pizza Fusion because they have free range meat?? “Happy meat” is a joke…and the welfarist animal rights movement is a waste of time. Complimenting restaurants for using free range meat makes omnis feel better about consuming animal products….surely not the way to end animal suffering.

    Check out Gary Francione at abolishonistapproach.com
    That’s one hell of a vegan!

    I’m thrilled that more eateries are serving vegan food….but serving free range meat? I could care less! Just seeing the phrase makes my blood boil.

    By the way, I love quarrygirl!

  • free range meat > factory meat. same thing in my mind of
    obama > that other guy who lost

    lesser of two evils. i am vegan too. please dont preach to me.

  • miss anthrope

    hey dudes, i didn’t mean you should check out pizza fusion because they have free range meat!! i meant it sarcastically because they brag about it.

    i edited the post, because i don’t want it to be unclear. i was mocking the fact that this place brags about being environmentally friendly and then serves animal flesh.

    doh! i guess my sense of humor didn’t come across very well in writing. :/

    turtle dove: quarrygirl loves you too!

  • when I was there, I asked what the vegan cheese was and the server said “it’s a mixture of vegan mozzarella and provalone”. I asked him to go check in the kitchen. he returned and said “oh, it’s called following our hearts vegan cheese”. I found that hilarious.

  • Maybe someone could call or email the owner/manager about daiya? They might not know about it yet, and the waiter sounds less-than-stellar about vegan options. 🙂 If enough people tell them they will frequent Pizza Fusion if they carry daiya, they may change. We already know it’s a viable option for lots of other pizza places, and PF seems small enough that it wouldn’t be a huge deal to change, even if daiya is a little more expensive. (Apparently, it’s a huge deal for Z Pizza to change…) FYH has an awesome distribution network and is probably one of the cheapest vegan options, but you can totally TELL it’s cheap with the taste. 😉

    I also think humanely murdered animals = better is such a joke. I’ve had a good life. Doesn’t mean I’d be okay with it if someone murdered me tomorrow. Free range animals use just as many environmental resources and feed (and sometimes more) than factory-farmed animals, too.

  • I tried Pizza Fusion about a week after it opened when everything still looked & smelled brand new. If I’m in Santa Monica this is a great place for a vegan pizza & beer/wine. And I thought the brownie was outstanding! Would drop in late just for desert & beer which is hard to come by at most late-night establishments. I agree that the staff doesn’t seem to knowledgeable re. veganism which is kinda sad. Our waiter/bartender suggested it must be difficult to be vegan since all you can eat is salad. Um, no….I can eat great vegan pizza too. 😉 A few days later we dropped into Cruzer for daiya eggplant parmesan & “chicken” pizza which was off the hook!

  • fiestascramble

    BTW – I was at Whole Foods yesterday and they said their regular pizza dough isn’t vegan — you have to ask for a special, vegan wheat crust.

  • Question: Would pizza from ovens used to make dairy/meat pizzas pass the tests used in Operation Pancake, or would they be deep dish fail?

    Just askin’.

  • It’s kind of a bummer that a restaurant with offerings as elusive as vegan pizza and desserts might be a total flop in LA due to competition, even if it is a little behind the fake-fairy curve. However, I do agree that there’s nothing more of a turn-off to and frustrating about a restaurant than a staff that is oblivious about the food they serve, especially to such a specialized demographic who specifically want to know that kind of thing.

    I’m not much for immitation cheese/meat/eggs/whatever myself (if I wanted to eat that stuff then I would, but I don’t), but I know that if a place out in the midwest even breathed of vegan-cheese pizza they’d probably be swamped with wide-eyed customers. It’s interesting how people’s expectations and satisfaction are colored by what’s available to them — there’s no golden standard.

  • *fake-dairy curve, even.

  • meh, i won’t be rushing out to the west side for this one any time soon. i’m in whole foods pizza land.

  • Dude, LA is the vegan pizza mecca!

  • miss anthrope

    observer: that’s a great question. these places use separate utensils and dishes to keep contamination to a minimum (i’m positive that cruzer and purgatory do) but who knows, there is always as risk!

    i also wonder if they’d pass the test…

  • That’s Amore in Cerritos uses exclusive VEGAN utensils, dishes, etc too. 😀

  • That’s Amore is goooood.

  • Um… i ran to Pizza Fusion last night after reading this post (and I don’t mean “ran” as in casually popped into. I mean it as in traveled quickly from Silver Lake). My “very vegan” pizza with spinach added was dee-lish – as was my salad with vegan goddess dressing! My dairy-loving husband had a bbq veggie-chicken pizza and when I asked the server if the veggie chicken was vegan… he hesitated, then said yes. Didn’t want to want to be suspicious – just avoided it. Thought the brownie was good but lacked a little oomph. Will be running to That’s Amore next! As always, THANKS Quarry Girl… I’m developing a serious dependency on you!

  • dude i am living on the wrong side of town!

  • miss anthrope

    fiestascramble: which whole foods were you at? when i asked, they said it was vegan.

  • miss anthrope

    fiestascramble: i just called the fairfax whole foods again to confirm, and they said the pizza crust is 100% vegan. phew.

  • Hm, well, vegan baking and vegan gluten free baking are two very different worlds, I think. It’s pretty difficult to get anything gluten free tasty, as far as everything I’ve tried, honestly! I’m sure it can be done, but most restaurants don’t care more than putting something out and saying “well, atleast we have something for you!”

  • That brownie looks amazing. I’d like one now. 🙂

  • the brownie is really good, i swear, if youve realized Real food dailys dessert has lost its edge, and want some real deal, this is good (apparently rfd got a former Mcafe pastry chef, who brought with her bland and hard deserts). so yea, the brownie was great, so is the pizza. i think maybe you, quarry girl, lack the gestalt approach to enjoying pizza. yeah daiya is a little better than fyh, but its really what happens when the whole thing comes together. slop it on at damianos , and fyh is gross. here though, the crust is really good, the sauce is perfect, and the fyh works fine to fill in the gap between a marinara pizza and something that started a french phenomenon:”pizza!”

    i think this is better than whole foods pizza, cause whole foods lacked the extra love, but purgatory still is the best imho. about whole foods being clean, are you kidding me, have you ever been to the sandwhich section, its the grossest thing ever, arguably worse than subway. immediate operation pancake fail. i guess it depends which you go to, i went to the big on one wilshire and 23rd(?) in sm, and have complained before about how dirty that sandwhich counter is.

    daiya is still a long way off though, i used to eat cheese, why is it so hard for them to get the consistency? does anyone know the science behind that?

    if they could kill one cow for perfect vegan cheese for the rest of eternity, would you do it? id probably throw it off a cliff so i didnt have to see it dead, but it would still provide vegan cheese for all you guys, no one would know, but it would happen, and i would hate myself and have nightmares.

  • Follow your heart melts you just have to put it on the pizza first then the sauce and toppings. This allows it to stay melted longer as well. It is liquidy/creamy and tastes delicious.

    Personally we thought Teese was pretty crappy. It didn’t melt well at all and turned solid pretty quickly after it did melt (even if we put the sauce and toppings on top). And we didn’t think it tasted very good. We had hopes especially because we have heard so much about Chicago Soydairy (and we have now tried and love Temptation Ice Cream and Woz has tried Dandies and thinks they are pretty good) and wanted to like it.

    We have tried Daiya and it is really good. It has a better consistency than other soy cheeses and is slightly stringy,but nowhere close to the stringyness of some dairy cheese. It was nice to have a Vegan cheese that was melted but not so liquidy it would just run off of the pizza if you tilted it too far haha. The flavor was good,but we find the flavor of FYH Vegan Gourmet to be slightly better.

    So overall we would probably have FYH and Daiya as a tie. One has a slightly better texture and one has a slightly better taste. So we would probably just go for whichever is easiest to attain/cheaper. We have been eating FYH for quite a while and it did take a while for us to get to the point where we like it so much (We will now eat it just by itself and before we wouldn’t). We didn’t care too much for the flavor of uncooked Daiya. So maybe after a while we will like Daiya better? You never know!

  • I enjoy the multi-grain pizza crust. I can’t find that everywhre. Also, have tried 3 different Pizza Fusions. The best is in San Luis Obispo. They heat the brownie, drizzle chocolate sauce and served with sliced strawberries. It was the best ever! Had the same brownie in SM and Temecula and it was dry and average (also not served warm or with chocolate drizzle).

  • I live in Thousand Oaks (about 30 minutes from downtown and well-worth the drive, in my opinion) and we have PizzaSalad. It’s a little place that only uses organic ingredients. Although they have meats and dairy cheeses, they also have lots of vegan items. They specialize in food allergies so that’s why they have tons of vegan 100% dairy/casein/whey free things. I love their carrot soup and I always have their GF pizza crust with the soy cheese (they also have a soy-free one…that’s right, 2 CHOICES of VEGAN CHEESE). No Pizza Fusion here but I’m super thankful for PizzaSalad!

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