Photo courtesy of Pleese Foods
Like most vegan food categories, the growth, diversity and quality of dairy-free cheeses in recent years has been simply astounding. With ever more demand driving ever more innovation from manufacturers, vegan pizzas no longer need to be presented as cheeseless versions that pale in comparison to the “real thing.”
For the upcoming October issue of PMQ Pizza Magazine, we checked in with operators across the country—from catering and take-and-bake operations to traditional independents and chains—to get their take on how vegan cheeses are working wonders across their menu. Here's a small taste of what you can expect to read about, and don't forget to check out the full article in October's print or digital edition!
Chef Louis Bayla and Brian Bistroy, Table and Banter, Berkeley, NJ
We purchase (rather than making ourselves) our vegan cheese: Miyoko’s Creamery Organic Cashew Milk Mozzarella, which is like fresh mozzarella, and Violife Just Like Parmesan. Parmesan, mozzarella and cheddar are great for omelets and sandwiches, and we use it just like you would use any cheese. We don’t charge extra—the profit margin is slightly less, but we use a lot of cheese on our pizzas—and the customer response has been positive. I think they appreciate us keeping their eating habits in mind. And it’s not just vegetarians who eat our vegan dishes; sometimes the customer just wants to eat cleaner or plant-based. I’d recommend tasting different cheeses, seeing how they melt and work with your dishes. You will be surprised to see what’s out there!
John Accardi, owner, Vito’s Slices and Ices, New York, NY
The co-founder of Pleese Foods reached out to me, because he heard that we’re the top-rated pizzeria in our neighborhood, and he wanted authentic New York pizza for an event he was hosting. We had gotten multiple requests for vegan cheese before that, but nothing impressed me until I saw Pleese melt and tasted it on my pizza. I became the first pizzeria in the world to carry it regularly on my menu. I started ordering 20 lb. of it each month, and now I can go through that amount in a day. Many of my regular customers order only vegan slices now!
For best results when cooking, I use a thin layer of sauce and top off the cheese with olive oil before placing in the oven. My ovens can reach 600ºF, and I use a screen under the crust, so the cheese and dough bake in about eight to 10 minutes. We charge a premium—$3 per slice, $6 per pie—so the slices are more profitable, especially with added toppings. We were recently ranked in the top five vegan pizzerias in NYC!
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