Halifax Pizza

Halifax Pizza Quest: Vegan Edition

Eat This Town will be entirely vegan/vegetarian this month of May! I’ll be posting some fun vegan content, while committed to an ovo-lacto vegetarian diet. Follow along as I discover delicious alternatives to animal-based foods, while reducing my carbon footprint!

The Pizza Quest has taken me all over Halifax, from Cole Harbour to Lower Sackville to Spryfield. I plan on re-doing the peninsula this year, but this month I figured: Why not do a vegan pizza quest?

Vegetarian pizza is easy enough. In fact, I often prefer a meatless pizza packed with olives and feta. But how does one cope when they don’t eat dairy?

There are actually quite a few restaurants in Halifax offering vegan pizza, so I decided to narrow down the quest to restaurants that, 1) serve 16″ pizzas, and 2) deliver.

We covered: On The Wedge, Nayya Pizza, Salvatore’s, and Bramoso. I decided to omit Pizza Pizza because I’ve heard too many negative reviews.

Here is the team I recruited for this quest:

Christian and Jess: New vegans at 6 months, with 2 years of vegetarianism under their belts.

Marie Aikenhead: 1 year vegan, with several years of “trying to be vegan but not 100% there”.

James Purcell: 7 year vegan, 3 year vegan activist.

The Side Dish: Albertan carnivore.

Yours truly: former pescatarian, aspiring flexitarian/conscious omnivore.

*Prices and pictures reflect medium pizzas. 

On The Wedge

On The Wedge's vegan pizza

1595 Bedford Hwy, Bedford (Sunnyside Mall)

We Ordered: Roasted Rocket ($15)

“Roasted eggplant, zucchini, red pepper, fresh tomato and sauteed mushrooms with rustico sauce on our multigrain crust”. (Our pizza had spinach and green pepper rather than eggplant or red pepper).

On The Wedge won the Bedford Pizza Quest, and their gourmet slices have quite the following. Their Roasted Rocket is their vegan offering, which, curiously, is not crowned with a bushel of rocket (i.e. arugula).

The crust was a bit soggy in the middle, but the end crust was nice and crispy with an extra crunch from a medley of seeds. “Crunchy airy dough,” wrote Christian. Jess agreed, but noted that the “crust didn’t have flavour”. There were mixed opinions about the seeds.

The veggies were fresh and crisp. I especially enjoyed the mushrooms and zucchini, and I somehow picked up on the sensation of cheese even though there was none present.

Whereas I quite liked the sauce, crust and veggies, The Side Dish stated: “For a vegan pizza, more attention needs to be given to flavour because of the lack of flavour from animal fat.” (Only later would she realize that this would be her favourite pizza of the day).

Top Score: Toppings

Nayya Pizza & Grill

Nayya Pizza - vegan pizza in Halifax

540 Southgate Dr, Bedford

We Ordered: Vegan Margherita ($19) & Vegan Shawarma ($22)

There are two very distinct vegan specialty pizzas on Nayya’s menu (though any pizza can be made vegan) and I haphazardly decided that we must try both!

Vegan Margherita: “Vegan Neapolitan Sauce, Fresh Basil, Vegan cheese, olive oil & garlic”.

There were many things we liked about this pizza. The “cheese” was not one of them.

“Translucent cheese that stuck to the back of my teeth and roof of my mouth,” wrote James. Reactions to the Daiya cheese ranged from tolerance to primal rage. “I could only do the cheese when it was baked on the crust,” wrote The Side Dish, (I can’t publish her other comments about the cheese), “But I’d like this pizza if it had real cheese,” she concluded.

Vegan Shawarma Pizza: “Garlic sauce, vegan cheese, roma tomatoes, hot peppers parsley, vegan shawarma, green onions, & garlic”.

We liked this one better because the dreaded Daiya was hushed by the bolder flavours and plentiful toppings. “Banana peppers give that pickly taste that I think is needed on vegan pizza,” noted The Side Dish. All it needed was some pickled turnip, but we were told we could request it next time.

I’ve previously enjoyed Nayya’s vegan shawarma which is made with spiced tofu. I enjoyed this topping on the shawarma pizza, especially complimented, as it was, by the garlicky sauce and fresh parsley.

Nayya had the lowest score of the day for its crust, but hey – it was up against some serious competition. “I like crust that’s both crispy and soft on the inside and {this pizza} had that,” wrote Jess, who was a fan.

We really liked this pizza overall, but I think most of us would order it without the “cheese” next time.

Runner Up: Sauce & Toppings

Salvatore’s Pizzaiolo Trattoria

Salvatore's vegan pizza

5541 Young St, Halifax

We Ordered: The Pomodoro ($20.48)

“Sesame seed edged crust with sun dried tomatoes, black olives, feta and fresh garlic”. (We subbed their cashew ricotta & parm for feta, and added the house vegan sausage +$3).

The vegan ricotta was arranged in clumps on the pizza, and had a texture similar to ricotta cheese. However, the flavour was jarring at first because I was expecting mild creamy ricotta and instead my palate received a nutty flavour. I grew accustomed to it, but The Side Dish wasn’t having it. Her slice landed promptly on my plate with no apologies.

“I can’t slight Salvatore’s for this because it’s the vegan elements in themselves that are disgusting. I was really hoping to be wow’d but the vegan ricotta is disgusting” – The Side Dish

I just thought the Pomodoro wasn’t the best flavour match for the vegan ricotta. I would try it next time on the Roger or the Greco (Sal’s will not substitute it on any of their specialty pizzas, like the clam or the Stephano).

The vegan crew did not share our sentiments:

“Cheese is about the best vegan cheese I’ve had but still not quite as good as dairy cheese” – Christian

“Love the vegan ricotta – it has the perfect nutty flavour and really complimented the other toppings” – Marie

“I could eat an entire bowl of the vegan ricotta” – Jess

The only vegan with some reservations was James, who felt the mouthfuls of ricotta were a bit much. While he likes the nutty cheese, he recommends …”spreading the globs of vegan ricotta with a knife, and of course chili oil on top.”

We felt that the vegan portobello was too bland to be a “sausage” and would rather opt for sauteed mushrooms.

Overall, Salvatore’s excels in the art of pizza and if you want a vegan pizza with all the bells and whistles, this is the place to go.

“I love how natural vegan pizza feels to Sal’s, like they’re not trying too hard” – Jess

Top Score: Sauce, Crust, Cheese, Overall

Bramoso Gourmet Pizzeria

6169 Quinpool Rd, Halifax

We Ordered: The Spartan ($18)

“Housemade balsamic vinaigrette, spinach, sundried tomatos, toasted walnuts, asiago/parmesan/gorgonzola”. (We subbed “house-made vegan topping” for the cheeses). 

Bramoso has several gourmet vegetarian offerings, and we had trouble choosing just one. We ended up choosing the Spartan because sun-dried tomatoes and walnuts sounded fun. We failed to notice that this was a “white pizza”, i.e. no tomato sauce. The menu isn’t divided into “Red” and “White” pizzas, so if it doesn’t specifically say “red sauce” in the description there will be no traditional pizza sauce.

Okay, fine. So we critiqued the sauce that did come on our pizza: the balsamic vinaigrette. Unfortunately, we could barely detect any, and this boost of flavour was sorely needed. The Spartan is obviously a pizza that relies on strongly flavoured cheeses, so it isn’t exactly vegan-friendly. The balsamic vinaigrette would have been the last line of defense against blandness – and it was absent.

To make matters worse, the “vegan topping” (listed with the cheeses) was literally just bland, crumbled tofu. Crumbled tofu is not cheese, no matter how much you try to believe!

This would have been a decent enough pizza with a few changes (add sauce, hold the vegan topping), for the crust was really quite nice.

“I liked the crust, this was spot on” – The Side Dish

Runner Up: Crust

The Winner —> Salvatore’s

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Salvatore’s emerged the winner in the seemingly unconquerable frontier of vegan pizza. Not only do they nail the pizza fundamentals, but the care they put into their vegan toppings does not go unappreciated.

Half the group chose Salvatore’s as their #1 pick, while the other half chose On The Wedge (which was the runner up by points). Curiously, everyone who favoured Salvatore’s choose Nayya Pizza as their #2 pick, while those who favoured On The Wedge generally chose Salvatore’s as their #2.

Carnivore’s Choice:
The Side Dish (carnivorous intruder into the vegan world) chose On The Wedge as her #1 Pick and Nayya Pizza (in virtue of the sauce and pickles) as her #2 Pick. She has zero patience for so-called “vegan cheese” (and neither does her intestinal tract).

Miss Congeniality, therefore, goes to:

Nayya Pizza! … pleasing to both vegans and carnivores alike! (Just hold the cheese).

Best Value:

On The Wedge

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