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Vegan at the Bend: Blaze Pizza is as close as it gets to authentic carryout for vegans

Blaze Pizza at Eddy Street Commons adds another place to our fast-growing list of new restaurants with explicit vegan options.

Blaze is an innovative new concept in fast-casual dining: pizza freshly customized to the diner’s specifications. You create a thin crust, medium-sized pizza with a number of different toppings and the whole thing is baked in three minutes in a super-hot oven.

Blaze’s website also dedicates a section about its vegan options

I have eaten at Blaze Pizza four times already. Three of those times, it was carryout. Pizza makes an ideal carryout meal that I have been missing since I went vegan. I do make my own vegan pizza at home using the crust recipe from Fields of Greens and toppings from Minimalist Baker. But Blaze’s vegan pizza with vegan cheese (Daiya brand) really tasted like authentic carryout pizza to me. 

Some vegans are still a little put off by the taste of vegan cheese and they might prefer to forego Daiya. Perhaps I’ve been vegan for a long enough time that I no longer remember the taste of dairy cheese. When you stop expecting the taste to be a certain way, vegan cheese on pizza is delicious.

The vegan cheese pizza at one of my older haunts was good, but Blaze is better. It is possible that Blaze adds just the right amount of vegan cheese to enhance the overall flavor rather than overwhelm, or perhaps it is the overall quality of crust and other ingredients.

As with any carryout pizza, the leftovers tasted great the next day. Blaze prefers you bake leftovers, but I microwaved mine to good effect.

Note that you can have as many veggie toppings as you like for the same price (for us, it was $7.45) if you choose to have Build-your-Own or Signature Pizza. Vegan cheese does add an extra $2 for each pizza and is not an unlimited item like the others.

The staff was very polite and considerate. One of them even came out from behind the counter to check on us sitting out on the patio. 

There are some things vegans might want to watch out for or ask about when they visit:

  • Make sure to specify ‘vegan pizza’ at the start of the line or the counter staff does get confused otherwise. 
  • The red sauce and spicy red sauce are vegan, but as expected, the white cream pizza sauce contains non-vegan ingredients.
  • The restaurant used three different cutters: one for the standard pizza, one for gluten-free and one for vegan cheese. If you are particular, you might want to specify the vegan cheese cutter as the server made a mistake on my order.
  • Note some of the drizzles might contain dairy. For instance, the pesto drizzle includes Parmesan cheese, something I would not have expected by looking at the sauce. The barbecue drizzle is made from KC Masterpiece, which looks to be vegan from its listing here.The safest best is olive oil or nothing at all. But it would be a simple matter for Blaze to modify the pesto drizzle to make all the drizzles vegan.
  • All salad dressings contain dairy except for balsamic glaze.

It does get complicated, even with an edited menu like the one at Blaze. The simplest solution would be for Blaze to veganize more of the options and have ’vegan’ be the default. I think that will be next new concept for fast casual. Until then, a fast, fresh vegan pizza on Eddy Street is a great addition to our local vegan options.

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

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