Ordering pizza vegan is easy, just know what to ask for

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By: Crystal Hallwood

I have always had a deep love of pizza. It is crunchy, chewy, can be thin crust, thick crust, stuffed crust, deep dish…the combinations are endless.

I also love independent restaurants, so when I go for pizza, that is what I am looking for. No chain restaurant pizza for me.

I have eaten pizza in New York, Chicago and St. Louis (all have entirely different crust philosophies). I’ve even eaten pizza in Italy, which is the epicenter for all things pizza.

I grew up on Pete’s Patio pizza in Niles, Mich., and over the years I’ve eaten pizza at just about every pizza joint in South Bend and Mishawaka.

I’d love to say it’s hard to find bad pizza, but that isn’t actually true. If you get a flavorless crust, a slightly under- or overcooked pizza, too much sauce or not enough sauce, it can put a damper on your cravings to say the least.

Not too far from me is a place on Ireland Road called Macri’s Italian Kitchen (totally separate from all the other Macri’s restaurants in town). It is not a fancy spot, nor is it particularly cozy. But it sure does have good pizza.

As is the case more often than not, you need to speak vegan. Ask some questions.

The crust at Macri’s is certainly vegan, but the traditional pizza sauce is not — they add parmesan to it. Not a huge deal, as you can easily ask for the pasta sauce, which is a basic marinara with no added cheese. Ta-da! Now your sauce is vegan. It’s a super easy swap, and the staff here is happy to accommodate.

Next up, veggies! My favorite toppings are green olives, black olives, tomato and mushrooms. Pizza heaven. I like the saltiness from the olives, the heartiness from the texture of the mushrooms and the soft, warm bites of tomato.

Macri’s crust is made in-house (which I love) and has great flavor. It is cooked up in such a fashion that the bottom stays crisp, with a couple of toasty brown spots, but still maintains that chewiness — that pull that you need to do right after a hearty bite into your piping hot pizza.

Speaking of which, no cheese on that piping hot pizza means no steam burn on the roof of your mouth when you bite into it too fast because you can’t wait!

As mentioned, Macri’s Italian Kitchen is a pretty casual space located in a strip plaza. It’s the kind of place with paper placemats featuring little maps of Italy.

While they do have wine and beer, it is very limited and the wine list involves tiny bottles that you unscrew. But enough about that.

We like the pizza and so do plenty of other people — if you go on the weekends, you might wait for a table during prime time. Sometimes we eat in, sometimes we take it home.

But we always go back.

For more tales of dining vegan in Michiana from Crystal Hallwood and her fellow meatless maven Rama Ganesan, subscribe to the Vegan at the Bend email newsletter.
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