Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Pizza Suprema

FINALLY made it to traditional NYC mainstay Pizza Suprema this past weekend and the vegan offerings were more impressive than I even could have hoped.

The first option I spied was just above my eye level (thus the crappy photo): a relatively ubiquitous cheeseless, veggie pizza option. I wasn't interested, but extra points for it being a Sicilian pie AND for noting it's vegan-friendliness right on the sign. From the online menu:

Veggie Medley - Vegan Friendly Pizza On a light airy Sicilian crust, diced fresh tomatoes, black olives, onions & fresh mushrooms that are sauteed with fresh garlic in imported extra virgin olive oil. (No cheese)

THEN I spied what we'd came for: the vegan margherita pie, sold by the slice*. What makes this option particularly special is that they didn't decide to offer vegan pizza, buy some Daiya, and call it a day. They make their own vegan cheese. OUT OF SUNFLOWER SEEDS FFS. And it's pretty damn great. [UPDATE 12/6/18 It is not actually Pizza Suprema housemade cheese; it's Che cheese. Thanks, McMarshall, for the correction/information!]

My one complaint (I know, I know) is that I think I prefer traditional marinara to this fresh tomato sauce, but still- it's really, really, really good. Anyone else would think it was mind-blowingly amazing, so I get it; no need to @ me.

When we'd arrived, there'd only been one margherita slice available. I selflessly offered to relinquish that to my companion- mostly because I had my eye on the unexpected second slice of vegan cheese pizza available: the "new vegan slice*" made with white truffle & ash brie (!!!) with sauteed onions. Selfless, I say.

This slice was outstanding. If I were to visit again tomorrow and these were the only options, I would go for this slice without hesitation; it was decadent. For starters, I had to blot it with a paper napkin before eating; I haven't had to do that in almost 2 decades. Yay for oil! It was rich and creamy with a significant depth of flavor; I really can't say enough good things about it.

To be fair, BOTH slices were, at their core, exactly what we needed: traditional, foldable, NY pizza by the slice. No doubt I LOVE our all-vegan pizza options, but to have these outstanding options available from a traditional joint in view of MSG is priceless.

* Tips for planning your visit:
Aside from the Veggie Medley, as of this writing, the vegan options are not listed on Pizza Suprema's online menu. I *think* it's because they're not necessarily permanent menu items? Also, it's important for me to note that sometimes when the vegan slices run out, there aren't anymore (thanks to my accomplice for suffering through this experience on a previous visit so that I could bring this information to you).

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Tacoria Mexican Street Kitchen's Vegan Menu

If you're a vegan in New Jersey, chances are you've heard of Tacoria Mexican Street Kitchen. Similar, in theory, to fast casual Mexican chains, the Tacoria flagship opened in New Brunswick a couple of years ago and has since opened two more locations with a fourth impending.

While I immediately admired their signage from afar (it's cool!), I had no idea it was a vegan-friendly establishment until a friend visited the (extraordinarily loud) Princeton location and reported back that they have a separate vegan menu; I immediately put it on my short-list to patronize.

Behold said separate vegan menu (scroll down if you follow the link):

I hadn't originally given it much thought, but BYOL observed that it's an interesting choice for the vegan "proteins" not to include more standard tofu/tempeh/seitan/bean options. Yes, we know vegetables contain protein; it's just an interesting take on the "vegan protein" issue. More on the menu options later.

Full disclosure: our first visit began with disappointment because, while the New Brunswick location has outdoor seating, dogs aren't allowed because you can only access the area by walking through the interior of the restaurant. Understandable, but regrettable. So, we got take-out:

En-salad-a: black beans, pico de allo, sliced avocado, house pineapple lime dressing served on a bed of chopped romaine with your choice of protein; here we chose brussel sprouts: charred & tossed in chipotle sauce with vegan chipotle aioli.

VM liked this way more than I did; mainly I was perturbed because it was predominantly halved Brussels sprouts with pico atop five giant pieces of lettuce and no discernible dressing. I'd really been looking forward to that pineapple lime; if it was there, I didn't taste it. It's possible that the extremely flavorful sprouts overshadowed it, but it seems doubtful since the lettuce leaves were basically dry. The cilantro in the pico wasn't a dealbreaker, and the avocado was a nice touch: generous enough that you needn't add guac (additional $$); overall, it just wasn't what I'd describe as a salad. I'd recommend, especially in light of the recent resurgence in popularity of chopped salads, that the lettuce be torn smaller and the sprouts be shredded.

Next up we ordered the viva la nachos: hand cut tortillas black beans, sliced pickled jalapenos, and your choice of protein; we went with the golden avocado: fried avocado with vegan chipotle aioli. SIGH. Okay, so we got this home and I was confused because:
  1. This wasn't what I had pictured when I imagined fried, "golden" avocado; where was the batter, the crunch? These avocado chunks glistened with oil and had about 20 breadcrumbs stuck to each.
  2. I hadn't remembered there being vegan cheese on the menu. Spoiler alert: THERE WASN'T. I was able to pick out and eat one, dry tortilla that tasted mainly of disappointment.

Mexican Street Corn wasn't on the vegan menu,* but the person taking my order kindly offered to veganize it and I was so excited that I forgot to say NO CILANTRO. Luckily, it was easy to remove the giant leaves and then it was basically just corn smothered in vegan aoili. Undeniably good, but I recognize that I probably don't need to consume that much aioli; that's on me.

 * it turns out that on the omnivorous menu it says "vegan option available"


Because I wanted to try all three "proteins," and certainly not because we needed more food (although ultimately we did because of the nacho snafu), I ordered the mission style burrito: rice, black beans, salsa in a flour tortilla with rajas: roasted corn and poblano peppers with smokey roja. This was definitely my favorite item ordered; it was on the dry side, but the ingredients were perfectly proportioned to each other and throughout the burrito, which had been assembled and sealed with extraordinary neatness (I'm looking at you, messy Chipotle).

I enjoyed it so much so that, a few weeks later, we returned to try the burrito with the Brussel Sprouts and added guacamole. The beans were a little more saucy this second time around but, once again, I think this menu item would benefit from the sprouts being shredded.

Overall, I'm really happy such a mainstream chain has an entire vegan menu instead of  secretly/accidentally vegan menu items/substitutions that only vegans are aware of through an underground, food-sharing, word-of-mouth, social media community. That being said, I think they could benefit from a few changes/additions. In addition to those I've cited above, it would be great if they could take their menu up a notch by offering vegan dairy substitutions, like cheese and sour cream, that seem to have become relatively ubiquitous in vegan/non-vegan establishments. In the meantime, I'll continue to get takeout and add my own.