• Vegan Pizza at Cafe Viva in NYC: Field Report

    December 16th, 2010quarrygirlmore restaurants (not LA), NYC

    i’m not gonna lie, this is one of the best field reports ever and it’s about my favorite food group: PIZZA. Aj aka QueerVeganRunner sent us this post about authentic nyc-style pizza from cafe viva in new york. if this doesn’t have you drooling, i dunno what will. damn, i wish we had a place like this in los angeles! in one visit, she ate FIVE different kinds of vegan pizza BY THE SLICE. amazing. here ya go:

    I love LA. But, in my heart (and in my attitude), I am a New Yorker. And to me, and to any real New Yorker, there’s nothing like a slice. To qualify that slice with an “of pizza” automatically disqualifies you from the “real New Yorker” club. Back in my pre-enlightenment days, I swore up and down for Famous Ray’s Original. But Ray’s has not caught on that non-vegan food has gone the way of hookers and crack in Times Square, so passé. Luckily real New Yorkers and tourists can enjoy Original Café Viva (why the original in every pizzeria’s name?). And lucky for me, they are spitting distance from my parents’ apartment.

    Café Viva appears to cater mostly to the growing Modern Orthodox community on the upper Upper West Side (we’re talking above 96th folks) and boasts a “kosher dairy” menu meaning that all meats are vegetarian and some slices are dairy free or have vegan cheese. Located between the UWS and Morningside Heights, the patrons appear to be a mix of vegan students from Columbia and Orthodox families. It is definitely a place for a vegan to get an authentic NY pizza experience.

    Siciliana Marniara, Speciale, Vegetarian, Zen and Naturale Slices

    My dad and I went there and got take-away (you folks might call it “carry out” but in NYC it’s take-away). The menu clearly indicates which items are vegan and they always have several vegan options available for single slice servings (i.e. you don’t have to order a whole pie if you want a vegan slice) and this way you can easily try more than one. We got a slice of the siciliana marinara, naturale, vegetarian, zen, and speciale. Disappointingly, their garlic knots are not vegan and they were sold out of vegan desserts.

    Siciliana Marinara: thick crust, spicy marinara (no cheese) $2.50

    The Siciliana Marinara is a thick crust with a spicy marinara and no cheese. The crust was not dry and so delicious. And the sauce was spicy, like really spicy, like spicy how I like it. Wimps need not apply. This was far and away one of my favorites.

    Naturale: organic tomato sauce, tofu marinated in miso, eggplant zucchini, red pepper & spinach $4.45

    The Naturale is on whole-wheat crust and has organic tomato sauce, tofu marinated in miso (sort of like a ricotta cheese), eggplant, zucchini, red pepper (sorry QG!) and spinach. This veggie overload was amazing and very filling and good.

    Vegetarian: organic tomato sauce, onions, mushroom, broccoli, plum-tom & soy cheese. $4.30

    The Vegetarian is also on whole-wheat crust with organic tomato sauce, onions, mushrooms, broccoli, plum tomatoes, and soy cheese (we verified it’s vegan and I’m guessing it’s Follow Your Heart). I loved this because it was broccoli heavy and the broccoli was not overcooked. My favorite veggie and cooked properly, delicious!

    Zen: green tea herbed miso-tofu, green tea basil pesto, shitake mushrooms, maitake mushrooms, caramelized onions, sundried tomato, roasted garlic on a green tea herbed spelt crust (super anti-oxidant pizza) $5.95

    The Zen pizza was on spelt crust (the menu specifies that although it is wheat free spelt contains proteins that should be avoided by celiac patients – while the menu provided all the information one could ever want, it did so while retaining the pink, red, green and white printing on a paper tri-fold necessary for NYC pizzeria authenticity). The menu describes the Zen pizza as “green herbed miso-tofu, green tea basil pesto, shiitake mushrooms, maitake mushrooms, carmelized onions, sundried tomatoes, roasted garlic on a green tea herbed spelt crust (super anti-oxidant pizza).” While this is the pizza that tasted the least authentic based on such non-traditional toppings, it was certainly delicious. The combination of flavors was dead on – all subtle with no one taste overwhelming another.

    Vegan Speciale: gluten-free crust with pesto, shiitake mushrooms, tofu, soy cheese, tomatoes, fresh mushrooms, and marinara

    The Speciale was on a gluten-free crust and had pesto, shiitake mushrooms, tofu, vegan cheese (again Follow Your Heart, or so it tasted), tomatoes, fresh mushrooms, and marinara. Again the tofu tasted like ricotta and the pizza was an unexpectedly delightful combination of several flavors.

    Café Viva also offers make your own pizzas and have a dairy free option on the calzones menu. With prices ranging from $2.50 per slice and up to $25 for a large pie, this is a great option either for a quick bite or for a full meal. 5 slices of varying types of pizza (just what they had out that day already) was more than enough for 3 adults. My one caveat is that the whole wheat, spelt, and gluten free crusts tasted a little dry. A side order of marinara or, if you’re creating your own, choosing the regular crust, may be a great option.

    Original Café Viva
    2578 Broadway at 97th St
    212-663-8482 / 2971/ 3362

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15 responses to “Vegan Pizza at Cafe Viva in NYC: Field Report” RSS icon

  • OMG, the quinoa and kale soup I packed for lunch will not satisfy today after reading (and seeing the pics) about this pizza. I must definitely check it out next time I’m up that way!

  • OMG! I just want to Cafe Viva for the first time last week, and I can NOT stop thinking about it. The pizza is SO DAMN GOOD. Must go again next week.

    By the way, the reason “original” is in the name is that there’s another Cafe Viva location in the East Village (2nd Ave btw 11th & 12th).

  • Thanks for this insight into the “other Viva”; I frequent the one in the Village & their regular Daiya slices are FANTASTIC.


  • RAY’S PIZZA RULES THE EARTH (if only they’d do something vegan….)

    I will check out Cafe Viva next time in in NYC. Great review, AJ and thanks QG for posting!

  • YUM!! I want a slice of the Zen pizza, please.

  • When I lived in NYC, I used to hit up the East Village location about 3 times a week.

    The Zen pizza is probably the best pizza I have ever eaten and it’s a shame they were out of desserts because they are usually really well stocked with Vegan Treats desserts which blow my mind!

  • Well, no one can say that you didn’t warn us! This is food porn at its best. Yet another reason I cannot believe it I’ ve never visited New York…

  • Gauri Radha गौरी राधा

    Wow, looks so amazing and delicious!!

  • DROOL. I will definitely check this place out the next time I’m visiting home! Oh, how I miss pizza by the slice!

  • I live close by here on the UWS. Will chek it out in about 30 minutes!!

  • This place has been on my “go to” list for a while. i live on the UWS so i have to go! YUM

  • I have been visiting Cafe Viva (UWS) for several years and their pizzas are amazing. I am a vegan and this place has great food. Their pastas and hearty soups and sandwiches are also delicious! Also, I always try their vegan desserts (they run out of them very fast) but their cheesecakes and chocolate cakes are heavenly! By the way, you must also visit “Cafe Viva Natural Pizza” 179 2nd Ave, between 11th St & 12th St) New York, NY 10003. A tiny, very cozy place but they also have GREAT vegan pizzas! Try them sometimes…. Cheers!

  • I wish we had pizza by the slice here. I hate having to commit to a whole expensive pizza that I’m eating for the next two days.

  • I have been hypnotized by the pizza photos. I want to eat all the pizza. Give me the pizza. All of it.

  • I forgot to add that like any real NYC pizzeria, they do deliver! Although probably not as far as LA…

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