• NYC: Scott’s Pizza Tours Vegan Safari Review

    October 26th, 2011quarrygirlmore restaurants (not LA), new york

    remember that vegan pizza bus tour we were freaking out about, that took place earlier this month?! man, i wanted to go on that so bad. luckily one of our readers, nicole, did go on it…and she sent us a review of the tour. i can’t wait to visit NYC and hit up all these places…

    October is national pizza month, and to celebrate, Scott’s Pizza Tours arranged a special all-vegan tour inspired by Scott Wiener’s vegan brother (and co-guide) Jon. Scott’s Pizza Tours is one of the most unique and highly rated tours in New York City, and currently the number one NYC tour on Yelp! Scott himself is certainly a pizza celebrity in his own right– all the staff of the pizzerias we visited regarded Scott warmly, as if he were family. Scott is truly and his pizza knowledge and enthusiasm is unmatched. Scott’s just starting to dabble in speciality pizza tours, and this vegan tour was his 2nd all-vegan pizza tour ever, following a sold out walking tour this past December.

    On October 1st, Scott kicked off National Pizza Month right with a completely dairy and meat- free pizza excursion to four pizzerias that specialize in vegan pies that both vegans and omnivores will love! Scott and Jon, our expert guides explained to us the techniques and ingredients that went into creating the vegan pies we sampled along the way. First up, was Paulie Gee’s in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. (Sorry, no pictures from Pauli Gee’s because it was too dark.)

    Paulie Gee’s (60 Greenpoint Ave) is nothing short of incredible–and was probably my favorite pizza I had on the tour. Scott introduced us to the Paulie Gee who was both very welcoming and knowledgeable about vegan pizza. Paulie suggested to skip the Daiya cheese they offer, and instead opt for baby kale as our topping of choice. I know kale on a pizza sounds a bit “crazy-vegan”–but it was delicious! Paulie Gee’s pizzas are cooked in 75 seconds in a wood-oven, so the extremely hot oven flash cooks the kale into crispy chips. Definitely different, but very good! We also sampled the “Simple Red” with their housemade seitan sausage, “Red, White and Greenpeace” which features baby arugula, olive oil and pickled red onions, the “Vegan Greenpointer” – baby arugula, olive oil and fresh lemon juice, and finally the “Vegan Shmoogula”- Italian tomatoes, baby arugula, olive oil and Aleppo chili oil. All were incredibly indulgent, but simple. I just want to put it out there that Paulie Gee’s is amazing and it is totally worth braving the G train from Manhattan to get some of Paulie Gee’s pizza!

    Next, we headed to the Lower East Side, where our tour continued at Viva Herbal Natural Pizzeria (179 2nd Ave) which features an incredible assortment of vegan pizza BY THE SLICE– something LA is sadly void of and it makes me cry. Viva Herbal also offers vegan pasta, lasagna, fresh pressed juices, and pastries as well! To get off track just a little bit, their vegan pumpkin whoppie pies look INSANE…

    Back to the pizza– we sampled the “Zen” which has Green tea herbed miso tofu, green tea basil pesto, shiitake mushrooms, maitake mushrooms, caramelized onions, sun-dried tomato, roasted garlic, on a green tea herbed spelt crust–phew! Many on the tour agreed it tasted “vegany” unlikely Paulie Gee’s, but still worthy and tasty none the less!

    Zen pizza from Viva

    The second slice we had was the “Seitan Dream”, which featured spicy seitan, artichokes, onions, garlic and tomatoes. Again, really good! My only complaint is that the toppings didn’t want to stick to the top of my ginormous slice. Did I mention their slices are massive? They are…so it all evens out!

    Seitan Dream from Viva

    Our third stop was Pala, also in the East Village. Pala makes their pizzas “by the foot”– and have a full, separate vegan menu which also includes gluten-free options (yeah!). Pala takes pride in their vegan and gluten free offerings, and even have a separate side of the oven for their GF pizzas, as well as a dedicated fryer for vegan menu items! We sampled three of Pala’s pizzas:

    Etna pizza at Pala

    Etna, which was topped with eggplant,, cherry tomato sauce, a daiya cheese/FYH soy mozzarella blend(!!!) and basil. This happened to be my favorite of the three we sampled. I dream of this pizza…

    Asparagi at Pala

    Asparagi consisted of Field Roast’s Italian veggie sausage, asparagus, cherry tomato sauce and daiya cheese. Really good, although I found it a little salty! I am a huge fan of Field Roast seitan sausage, however I still feel Paulie Gee’s homemade seitan had spoiled me…

    Funghi e Salsiccia at Pala

    and finally, the Funghi e Salsiccia, which was topped with Field Roast veggie sausage, field mushrooms, daiya cheese, and hot pepper. Definitely a pizza for mushroom lovers!

    Pala was a wonderful find, and our server Phillip was quick to answer all of our questions about their vegan and GF options! Pala does not cook their GF pizzas at the same time as their wheat pies, as to avoid gluten contamination. Pala even serves a gluten free Belgian beer–so Pala is certainly a pizza haven for vegan, GF-ers, and omnivores alike!

    On our way to our last stop Keste, the group came upon a woman on the street, singing the praises (literally, SINGING) of a vegan diet– “Vegans have better health/ Cleaner bodies/Clearer Conscience”. Seriously…our minds exploded a little bit. What are the odds a vegan pizza tour would walk by a singing vegan minstrel… only in New York, that’s for sure. Singing Vegan Lady, wherever you are, I love you, and I would like to hear the rest of your song.

    Keste, in the West Village, was incredible! Just when I thought I could not handle any more pizza, Scott had to guide us to one of his personal favorite pizzerias. If there is any testament to how beloved Scott is in the pizza community, Keste is a shining example. The staff greeted Scott and the tour as if we were family, and brought us back to a nice table by the kitchen where we could watch the pizza-making action!

    Marinara Pie at Keste

    It was at Keste I experienced the one pizza that will make me weep for New York, and hop on Expedia at 3 am searching for cheap plane tickets to JFK. The Marinara Pie. Just simple marinara sauce, and chopped garlic. That’s it! It was so perfect, it makes me cry. Just look. Look at that! Point made.

    Vegetariana at Keste

    We also had the Vegetariana, which has tomatoes, eggplant, artichoke and zucchini– but to be honest, I much preferred the simple marinara pie. What I like about Keste is that the two pizzas I just described are vegan with out any modifications– in fact, you cannot make any modifications to the pizzas at Keste–but really their two vegan pies are perfect as is!

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