Now that we’re safely into February, it’s time to look back on the longest month known to man: January 2018, take a bow! In spirit of my New Year’s resolution to try and be more ‘glass half full’ (and by that I aiming for more optimism, as opposed to a consistently heavy wine glass), let’s look on the bright side – a LONG January meant more time to engage in Veganuary, which I tried for the very first time (I also tried Dry January, but let’s not speak of that).
If you know me at all, you’ll know that eating out is one of my favourite things, and I really didn’t want to have to sacrifice this while giving veganism a try. Thankfully, the world seems to have caught on pretty rapidly over the last couple of years when it comes to special dietary requirements, particularly those of vegetarians and vegans. And thanks to this aforementioned very long month, it gave me time to sample a good amount of vegan eats in and around town – especially pizza!
So with that said, here are my reviews of the vegan pizzas I ate in the city of Nottingham.
Pizza Express #1
Last year the restaurant debuted their first vegan pizza: the Vegan Giardiniera. This is what I opted for on my first visit – artichokes, red onions, black olives, tomatoes and garlic oil, all topped with chunks of vegan mozzarella.
Given free reign of the menu, this flavour combo isn’t one I’d have normally opted for (because ‘artichoke’ never sounds like it’s going to rock my world) but I was really pleasantly surprised. It was full of flavour, with plenty of herbs and seasoning to keep it far from the kind of ‘bland’ that often tars veggie pizzas. I’d been pre-warned of perils of vegan cheese and its temperamental ‘melting point’, but this seemed to melt easily – if not a little oily/runny, which affected the solidity of the base. Despite this, the flavours brought it back into winning territory.
robyn’s review: 8/10
Pizza Express #2
The second stop at Pizza Express called for putting their flexibility to the test. I’d been told that they could reproduce any vegetarian pizza by simply substituting normal mozzarella with a vegan version, and indeed this was the case when I asked. I went for the Veneziana – pine nuts, red onion, capers, black olives, sultanas and tomatoes.
It was nice and salty thanks to the capers and olives, which worked in my favour as your resident salt addict, and also had slightly better distribution of mozzarella to the previous one (though that’s probably dependant on your chef). Overall much more of a ‘standard’ pizza in terms of flavour, but it’s really nice to have the option of choosing something regular (or just the choice at all) as opposed to the single option veggies/vegans are used to.
robyn’s review: 7.5/10
Pizza Express #3
You’d be forgiven for thinking I was trolling you at this point (or that this is actually just one massive #AD) but I genuinely did just end up in Pizza Express a lot. Unlike my previous two choices, I went for a Romana pizza (thinner & bigger), and one that was advertised as a ‘special’: the Caponata offered up fried aubergine and green olives, together with tomatoes, mozzarella, onions and capers.
The aubergine/olive mixture was cooked up into a kind of paste (which almost could have passed for something meaty), and the flavour was incredible. Salty and substantial, it was complemented by oil, vinegar and basil for the ultimate Italian feel – and the vegan mozzarella fit in the combo with ease. The only thing that let this down was that it was practically cold by the time I was halfway through it, but even then the taste was good enough to deflect that. My favourite from these guys.
robyn’s review: 8.5/10 (half a point deducted for temperature)
The staple Saturday night takeaway could potentially pose problems as a vegan, but upon scrolling through Deliveroo on one such occasion I was dead pleased to see I could still be a lazy slob as a non-dairy consumer. While not super extensive, I was impressed by their vegan menu, and the fact that it was easily accessible on the app. I ordered the Classic Vegan Zucca, which has a base of tomato and coconut oil-based ‘mozzarella’, topped with roasted butternut squash, caramelised onions and spinach.
This was certainly on the sweet side, with the squash and balsamic-soaked onions packing a flavour punch. As I said above, I tend to prefer salty over sweet, but the overall taste of this was nice, and the super-thin base made the whole thing feel really fresh – not quite the grease-fest that takeaways usually are. Happy customer.
robyn’s review: 7/10
Broadway’s cafe/bar is perhaps as popular as their cinema screens, and they’ve always been pretty dependable when it comes to catering for special diets, so I knew they’d have something suitable for Veganuary. Their vegan offering, in true Broadway fashion, had a cinematic nod to its name – the Garden State.
The only pizza of the lot that didn’t include a cheese substitute, this simply had sun-dried tomatoes, olives, rocket and basil. The tomato sauce (and additional tomatoes) were quite rich to compensate for any lost flavour, and the dough base was warm and fresh. It was also nice to have some greenery on there, although the rocket might have benefitted from a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. While I didn’t necessarily miss the cheese, it did confirm to me that I prefer something gooey on my slice of pizza, so if we’re gonna deduct points that’s probably a factor!