© Robert Laing

Vegan pizza is nothing revolutionary. But good vegan pizza? That’s an innovation.

Justine Sterling
February 22, 2016

New York City’s 00+Co is a new vegan pizza shop, but its food will conjure no memories of the gravely, grey, thick and flavorless slice that your friend’s hippie mother fed you when you were ten. (We all have that memory, right?) Chefs Scott Winegard and Matthew Kenney are making colorful works of vegetable-focused art on canvases of chewy, wood-fire oven-baked crusts. “We’re all about showing the world how incredible plant-based foods can be,” Kenney says. “What better way to do that than with everyone’s favorite food—pizza?”

Here, Kenney and Winegard reveal the keys to making great vegan pizza.

Keep the crust classic. “The thing that makes great vegan pizza is the same thing that makes great non-vegan pizza—and that is the crust,” says Kenney. While some vintage vegan pizzerias would contaminate their crusts with additions like hemp or kelp, 00+Co stays traditional. The chefs make dough with ultra-finely milled flour called 00 (the restaurant's namesake), then bake it in the kitchen's original wood-burning oven.

Find—or make—high-quality nut cheese. Instead of using vegan cheese from outside producers, the chefs produce their own small batches every other day. “It’s something we’ve been doing for four years now,” Winegard says. Made from nuts like cashews and smoked almonds, the cheeses might not look like traditional mozzarella or ricotta when raw, but baked in the oven they achieve a similarly gooey, creamy, ultra-satisfying texture. If you're not ready to get quite so DIY, track down one of the new, high-quality nut cheeses that are entering the market.

Skip the fake meat. You won’t find any faux pepperoni or tofu meatballs at 00+Co. “There’s no tofu, no seitan, no processed anything,” Kenney says. Instead, he and Winegard top pizzas with caramelized eggplant, smoked oyster mushrooms and truffled celeriac. Items like farro-fennel “sausage” and shiitake “anchovies” do appear on the menu, but these descriptions only serve as points of flavor reference. The “anchovies” are dried, thinly-sliced mushrooms that have been cured in umeboshi vinegar, tamari and olive oil. "It's so people know what they're ordering," says Kenney, though he isn't thrilled about referring to vegan creations using non-vegan terms. A longer-term goal: depart from carnivorous linguistics and give plants their own their own language—their own "definable cuisine."

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