The Scoop: Vegan pizza is an elusive beast. For many of us, the only vegan pizza we ever get to indulge in comes from our own kitchen. If we're able to find a place with vegan crust, the pizza is usually cheeseless, dry, and bo-ring. However, if you're lucky enough to live in Chicago, Delisi's Pizzeria & Bar has your back. They regularly offer a menu that features not only Teese vegan cheese from the geniuses at Chicago Soydairy, but also several vegan meats, including pepperoni, seitan chorizo, and sausage. All of the meats are from Upton's Naturals, a local company specializing in blow-your-mind delicious seitan.
On Sunday, a group of 40 vegans gathered at Delisi's for a taste challenge to end all taste challenges. Organized by Julia from Snarky Vegan and Melisser from The Urban Housewife, the event promised to be a delicious battle of epic proportions. Our goal was to try several different types of Chicago deep dish pizza—half made with the pizzeria's regular vegan cheese, Teese, and half made with new vegan cheese wunderkind, Daiya—and declare a winner! This was a contest I could physically, emotionally, and spiritually get behind.
When we arrived, we paid our entrance fee (only $12, including soda, tax, and tip! Chicago prices, I love you!) and were given name tags. Next, the chef brought out a panzerotti, which is basically a deep-fried calzone. Hello, obesity! It was filled with tomatoes, Teese, Daiya, and a selection of Upton's seitan. I imagine it's what is served in heaven. SO GOOD. After that, the deep dish pizzas started to come out. They offered up a meat lover's special, Hawaiian pizza (complete with vegan ham), veggie special, and more. We loaded our plates and got down to the taste test.
A sight for hungry, pizza-lovin' eyes.
One bite into this marvelous deep-dish pizza and you'll wonder why you ever bothered eating anything else. Classic Chicago deep-dish pizza has no worldly match; it is spicy, hearty, and flat-out amazing. While opinions varied on which cheese was superior, the consensus was that both cheeses were delicious in their own right. Delisi's agreed and soon will most likely be offering both Teese and Daiya! How's that for service?
Attendee Jon enjoys his pizza afterglow, while Joy longs for her chance to indulge.
It's exciting to walk into what seems to be your typical, unpretentious, neighborhood pizza spot and find they're looking out for vegans, too. Awesome! Co-owner Brian Esterline estimates that about one-third of his clientele is vegan. That's a fact we can all use when we go into pizza places and request vegan options. I don't mean to get all cheesy (ouch!) on you, but if you build it, we will come. We will travel across states, climb mountains, and swim oceans for a tasty vegan treat. I've been known to forsake family and friends for a good vegan milkshake.
Speaking of ice cream, the kind folks of Chicago Soydairy were at the event and brought dessert! We all quickly found room in our expanded stomachs for cherry-vanilla, pineapple, and peppermint ice creams. I don't know how we did it, but what can I say? We were a strong group.
The event ended when we were all nearly incapacitated due to our overwhelming consumption. We laid in the booths and begged for relief. And then, we went for more pizza. Many thanks to the co-owners of Delisi's, Brian Esterline and Sean Anderson, and all of their fabulous staff for hosting the event. Now, who else is up for organizing one of these? It's an amazing form of outreach, to the pizza place and to other vegans in your community. When you do accept the challenge, be a doll and invite us, okay? We'll be there with our eating pants on!