There’s no food more quintessentially New York than pizza, be it a dollar slice from the no-frills corner pizzeria or a Neapolitan pie from a buzzy, sit-down spot.
Once the cheesy province of omnivores and vegetarians, pizza — thanks to advances in plant-based cheese technology and the growing popularity of meatless and dairy-free diets — now appeals to the vegan crowd, too.
From New York-style slices topped with Buffalo-style cauliflower and dollops of almond ricotta to wood-fired pies piled with shredded Daiya cheese, this city has something for all herbivorous palates.
Hit up one of these pizzerias for your next vegan slice:
New York-style slices and pies go all-vegan at this tiny Greenpoint pizzeria with an ’80s vibe. (Owners also operate the popular Champs Diner in Williamsburg.) Crusts here are thin and crispy and the cheese comes in four varieties: Violife, a brand made with potato and cornstarch; NUMU, a soy-based mozzarella produced at the Brooklyn Navy Yards; and house-made almond and Parmesan ricotta. Try the Screamer’s white namesake pie, topped with two kinds of mushrooms and parsley flakes, or the Buffalo, with Buffalo-style cauliflower, dollops of the almond ricotta, a drizzle of vegan ranch and chives ($23 for a medium pie, $28 for a large). There’s not much by the way of seating here, so we recommend eating your ‘za on a bench in nearby McCarren Park. Retrace your steps to end the meal on a sweet note, with a vegan scoop from the Van Leeuwen ice cream shop next door.
620 Manhattan Ave., Greenpoint, screamerspizzeria.com
Personal-sized pies at celeb chef Matthew Kenney’s East Village pizzeria are cooked in a custom-built wood-burning oven and served on paper-lined metal trays. The cheeses on top are nut-based: cashew mozzarella covers the plain tomato and eggplant and shiitake mushroom “bacon” pies; macadamia ricotta lends a creaminess to the white pizza with baby kale and roasted corn. Small Mediterranean plates, like an antipasto salad and zucchini lasagna, round out the all-vegan, health-conscious menu. The ambience is sophisticated, but casual, with wine bottles lining the shelves along the walls and seating spilling onto the sidewalk on warm days. Partake in a glass of vino off the restaurant’s extensive list before you tuck into your plant-based dinner.
65 Second Ave., East Village, matthewkenneycuisine.com/double-zero
Leave it to an Upper West Side pizzeria to brand itself as kosher and “natural.” On a superficial level, Cafe Viva resembles any other city slice shop, but a closer look at the labels behind the glass counter reveals some unique crust alternatives: there’s whole-wheat, corn, gluten-free and spelt. All pies and slices are vegetarian, but vegan options include a Sicilian with kale, tomatoes, onion, vegan lemon aioli and vegan cheese ($4.95 a slice, $32.95 a pie), and the Zen, built on a spelt crust infused with green tea, and topped off with green tea-herbed miso tofu, green-tea basil pesto, two kinds of mushrooms, caramelized onions, sun-dried tomatoes and roasted garlic ($6.96 a slice). All desserts, like the tiramisu, carrot cake and blueberry tofu cheesecake, are entirely plant-based, too.
2578 Broadway, Upper West Side, cafevivany.net
Neapolitan pizza gets a West Coast makeover at this New American restaurant serving Cali-inspired seasonal food and beach-y cocktails. The pies are cooked quickly, at high temperatures, in wood-fired Italian Al Forno ovens, but they come with toppings like crushed avocado, roasted leeks and California tomatoes. The majority of the pizza isn’t vegan, or even vegetarian, but you can substitute dairy for tapioca starch-based Daiya cheese for an extra $2 (and you can opt for a gluten-free crust, too). Add some pizzazz to your meal with a $14 cocktail like the Orange Crust (orange-infused vodka and freshly squeezed orange juice) or the Baewatch Fuego (jalapeno-infused tequila, watermelon and lime).
167 Orchard St., Lower East Side and 1426 Third Ave., Upper East Side, pizzabeach.com
This counter-serve spot with locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan serves thin-crust, round pies and grandma-style square ones with a reputation for delivering your money’s worth in terms of food. (Where you’d be tempted to drunkenly devour two or three slices elsewhere, one might suffice here.) Generally a no-frills establishment, the Williamsburg outpost has its charms: a black-and-white tiled floor, subway-tiled and brick walls, a cheery red-and-white striped awning. This is the perfect place to stop for late-night grub with omnivore friends; let them chow down on slices with the house-made mozzarella while you go completely cheese-free. The vegan pie here comes with tomato, garlic, red onions, spinach, roasted red peppers, mushrooms and olives ($25).
265 Union Ave., Williamsburg; 277 Broome St., Lower East Side; and 758 Nostrand Avenue, Crown Heights, williamsburgpizza.com
This East Village-born chain dating back to 1987 is like death and taxes: It will always be there. And for vegans desperate for a quick bite, that’s a good thing. The V for Vegan pie with daiya, its plethora of veggies (artichokes, onions, mushrooms) and its crisscrossing red pepper and basil pestos will satisfy your taste buds and your need for a fast hunger fix (prices range from $12.95 for a small pie to $28.95 for a large). The veggie-smothered, whole wheat-crusted Earth Mother — named after community garden savior and star Bette Midler — is a good option for the calorie conscious. With nine different locations in the city (including at Citi Field), a slice in one of Two Boots’ whimsically-decorated psychedelic shops is never far away.
Multiple locations, twoboots.com
Stop by either one of the Williamsburg or Greenpoint locations of this classic New York pizzeria to grab some garlic knots, a “ham” pinwheel (dipped in marinara sauce and not to be missed), or one of their eight to 10 vegan slices available each day. Then settle into one of the curved red booths — a staple of every New Yorker’s childhood to chow down. The vegan pizzas are made with Teese cheese, which is soy-free and made with tapioca starch and coconut oil, but Daiya is available for an extra $3 on specialty pies made to order. Inventive topping combos like the Tiger Style (teriyaki chicken, broccoli, mozzarella, cheddar, and sesame seeds) or the Parma Initiative (baked breaded eggplant, marinara sauce, mozzarella, and cheddar) can satisfy any plant-based pizza connoisseur. But if regular old pizza just won’t cut it, Vinnie’s will “veganize” their infamous pies Pizza on Pizza and The Pizza Box Pizza.
148 Bedford Ave., Williamsburg, 253 Nassau Ave., Greenpoint, vinniesbrooklyn.com
Arrive early and be prepared to wait for these Neapolitan-style pies. Trust us, your time is worth it: Paulie Gee’s has perfected the slightly burned, chewy crust with equally classic and inventive topping combinations, and the Greenpoint-based pizzeria with locations in cities across the country has a robust selection of nine different vegan pies on its menu. Try the Vegan Regina, made with tomato sauce, NUMU mozzarella cheese, fresh basil and olive oil ($15). Or the Red, White, and Greenpeace with baby arugula, house-pickled red onion and dollops of cashew ricotta ($17). Have a sweet tooth? Indulge in some vegan ice cream made by Van Leeuwen or a vegan ricotta sweet pizza with orange marmalade and powdered sugar for dessert ($12). A rustic interior with all-wood everything and a ceiling that shows its age makes Paulie Gee’s a place you want to prolong your meal.
60 Greenpoint Ave., Greenpoint, pauliegee.com