Where To Get The Best Vegan Deep Dish Pizza!
This week, I’m going to talk about something very important in my life.
Deep. Dish. Pizza.
“What is that?” the unenlightened ask.
That, my friend, is the wrong question. Deep dish pizza is so much more than a what. It is a where, a why, a how.
While pizza has its roots in Italy, deep dish pizza comes straight from the ovens of Chicago. Contrived by descendants of Italian immigrants in the heart of the Windy City, deep dish might be described as a “pizza layer cake,” with all of the fixings a thin-crust love could dream of – tomatoes, cheese, vegetables, meat, olive oil, and a buttery, flaky crust that leaves little to be desired.
The depressing part of all of this is that your classic deep dish pizza consists of an eggy or milky crust, half a pig’s worth of pepperoni and sausage, and enough hot, bubbly cow goop to clog a wall pipe.
And I ain’t about that, fam. If something’s going to kill me, it’s not going to be the fragmented goop-ghost of an herbivorous animal haunting the chambers of my heart; I prefer to go down via an arterial accumulation of heavily-processed, GMO-ridden cheesish mass that tastes like our poststructuralist, neoliberal society and the upheaval of traditional consumption patterns. In other words, it tastes freakin’ delicious.
And hey, it’s vegan!
Thankfully, there are a few places on the map that give vegabonds like me some respite. While some admittedly need to perfect their craft (ironically, the vegan deep dish I’ve tried in Chicago has not been very good), there are many that you should definitely fit on your bucket list of restaurants to visit:
First, there’s Pi Pizzeria in St. Louis. Hands down one of the best pizzas I’ve had. While crust is sometimes a downfall of vegan pizza due to the absence of butter, this one was perfectly flaky and crispy, and even though Daiya is definitely not my favorite dairy-free cheese, the sauce was so sweet and rich that there was little to be desired. The restaurant is also committed to local ingredient sourcing, so the fresh vegetables baked into the cheese were another huge plus.
My mom and I about to enjoy a pie from Pi.
Second, WB Pizza in Indianapolis serves up one heavenly pie, complete with vegan meat, fresh veggies, and TEESE vegan cheese. Now for those of you who haven’t tried Teese, you’re missing out. Teese is a product of Chicago Vegan Foods, and it’s not available for retail. While Daiya is primarily made with water, tapioca flour, canola and/or safflower oil, and a relatively small amount of coconut oil, Teese places coconut oil nearer to the top of its ingredient list, giving it a soft, melt-in-your-mouth (and pizza!) consistency. It’s also guaranteed to be free of peanuts and gluten, so there’s another plus. Another charm of WB Pizza is that it has history – from the get-go (~30 years ago), the manager uncompromisingly prioritized quality over quantity, and sold vegan pizza before it was cool.
Look at the melty Teese.
One thing that I appreciate about both of these vegan deep-dish pizza places (actually, Midwestern vegan pizza joints in general) is that they are marketed to the folksy supper-club type. In other words, my poor parents don’t feel the need to dress up in scarves, skinny jeans, and self-righteousness to blend in with the crowd (yes, it happens sometimes.) They also tend to feature a plethora of non-vegan options for those friends of yours who are too frightened to step into a restaurant where they cannot feast on the flesh of a creature they killed with their own coins, so everyone can be happy!
I kid the non-veggies (kind of). But seriously, it’s an interesting phenomenon. In a vegetarian world where the hottest restaurants are clean, whitewashed, urban hipster establishments run by savvy 20-40-year-olds, vegan pizzas are finding their market in the restaurants frequented by those who would pride themselves on being easygoing meat-and-potatoes folk. I’m curious as to whether the market is expanding, or if these places have been idling under the radar for some time.
But such is the topic for a different post! For now, pack your bags – vegan deep dish awaits you!