Pizza’s origins date back to the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians, who topped flatbreads with oil and spices. Around the 1700s, it was the Neapolitans who are credited with adding tomatoes, basil, garlic, and cheese. The Italian immigrants who came to America in the 19th century looking for factory work brought the humble cuisine with them when they settled in cities like Brooklyn, New York. It was there that the crusty bread covered with tomatoes and cheese took hold and spread to other parts of America.
Today, pizza is a favorite meal everywhere. The toppings range from the pure – crushed tomatoes with spices and oil – to anything a creative chef can invent. But, what about pizza lovers with special dietary needs? I am not a vegan, but many of my friends are. They can’t (or won’t) consume animal and dairy products and find that vegan toppings and variations are limited at best. What is a non-cheese, non-meat, pizza lover to do? I was inspired by their dilemma, and as a pizza lover, I joined my vegan friends and headed back to Brooklyn, to sample some of the best-tasting vegan pizzas Brooklyn ever crafted for this often-neglected diner.
The Best Vegan Pizza Brooklyn Has to Offer!
The late 1960s vibe of Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop is the perfect backdrop for incredible pie. The 46-seat place, outfitted with orange bench seats, wooden paneling, and a black and white tiled floor, gives the store a retro-vibe. There is a vintage TV set with molded plastic chairs in the corner with an Atari gaming system – just waiting for players. An old Coke machine along the back wall completes the nostalgic look. The soundtrack (played loudly) is from Paulie’s self-curated selection of music from the ’60s and early ’70s.
The lines out the door are justified for this Greenpoint location that focuses only on slices of pizza. You can get takeout or delivery, but the best way to enjoy Paulie’s Brooklyn pizza is right there in the shop, hot out of the oven.
Whether it is a round pie cut into triangles or into squares, known as Sicilian style, the vegan pizza options range from simple tomato to a tantalizing Vegan Special. I selected two different slices: Vegan Vidalia; a crisp sesame seed Sicilian crust covered with slow-cooked tomato sauce, Vidalia onions, and Follow Your Heart Vegan Parmesan Cheese.
The crunch of the crust was the first thing I noticed. The dough had these tiny holes throughout that made the thickness of the piece seem light as air. The bite, followed by the burst of the fruity, sweet, tomato sauce made this slice a winner. The Vidalia was roasted, which brought out the mellow, rich flavor of the onion, and the light sprinkle of parmesan added a salty element. The profile was subtle, and the combination was tasty.
The second was the Vegan Special. This round pie is layered with slow-cooked tomato sauce, NuMu mozzarella, Follow Your Heart Parmesan, Beyond Meat Sausage, pickled jalapeño, roasted onion, and a drizzle of sweet red pepper sauce. The creative toppings intrigued me, and as a non-vegan, I have to confess this pizza was incredible.
The local cheese (made in Brooklyn) is dairy, lactose & casein free. It is creamy when melted and entirely plant-based. You miss none of the feel and flavor of traditional mozzarella. The crust was crisp, and the ingredients had a pleasant spice due to the addition of the jalapeño pepper and red pepper drizzle. The sausage was chewy (similar to traditional sausage) and the savory flavor of fennel and spices made for a great bite. Paulie Gee’s pies are $30.00, and slices are $4.50.
Pro Tip: Lines form at lunch, so get to this vegan pizza restaurant just before the rush at 12:00 pm when they open.
620 Manhattan Avenue // (347) 844-9412
Screamer’s Pizza is an all-vegan food operation with locations in Greenpoint and Crown Heights. The Greenpoint Screamer’s is a tiny storefront with just a few tables. It has an ’80s feel with white subway tile walls covered in stickers from the punk era.
The pizzeria prides itself on innovative offerings; at least 22 different types of pies are on the menu plus a long list of individual toppings for “create your own” options. You can order to get a whole pizza (ranging from$20 -$30 for a large), but it is also a slice shop (from $3.25 – $4.25).
The downside of the Greenpoint spot is that space is tight, and the place is popular. If there aren’t any tables available, you can sit outside on the bench beside the store or take the slices to go. Whether you dine-in or grab take-out, you will love the flavor combinations and downright creativity of each pie.
I wanted to try a white slice, which is a pizza topped with ricotta and melted mozzarella cheese. At Screamer’s, there is a pie dubbed the National Treasure. This version was topped with garlic oil, Violife ricotta, spinach, red onion, and roasted garlic. The ricotta is the key to this slice as it is made with almond milk. The crust was crisp, and the cheese was creamy, not sweet, as I had imagined. The flavors of the roasted garlic and the crunch of the red onion added a lovely element to the softer toppings. This slice was a winner, and I would return to this Brooklyn Treasure for more vegan pizza at any time.
The Buffalo slice was my second choice. I love Buffalo anything, and this pizza hit the spot. This was Screamer’s take on the craze of adding Buffalo chicken to pizza. In this version, the slice is topped with vegan cheese, Buffalo cauliflower, dollops of almond ricotta, ranch drizzle, and chives. The combination of ricotta and Buffalo cauliflower was delicious. The ranch drizzle just added that sweet and sour flavor that reminded you of chicken wings with a dipping sauce but in a vegan version. While I am still partial to National Treasure, Buffalo was a close second. Who would have thought you could get the best of Buffalo in a vegan pizzeria in Brooklyn?
148 Bedford Ave. // (718) 782-7078
Vinnie’s Pizzeria has been in business since 1960, and the restaurant is responsible for bringing vegan pizza to Williamsburg 14 years ago. Vinnie’s is renowned for using original recipes, the finest ingredients, and creating a pizza in the classic style.
The Williamsburg storefront is small and has an old-school pizzeria look with six tables and retro décor, including cartoon characters like the Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Simpsons covering the walls. There is a daily whiteboard near the counter covered with colorful doodles and specials that list pies loaded with inventive toppings and combinations. The humorous whiteboards are famous and have been featured on the Jimmy Kimmel Show.
Vinnie’s offers several vegan options daily, charging $31.00 for specialty pizzas and $4.00 for slices. I chose a slice called the Parma Initiative with breaded, baked eggplant made in-house. The pizza, topped with marinara, breaded eggplant, shredded vegan mozzarella, and shredded vegan cheddar cheese looks and tastes like eggplant parmesan. The crust was crisp, as was the eggplant. There is nothing worse than soggy crust or eggplant on a pizza. The cheeses were also melted beautifully and not so thick as to overpower the other toppings. The cheddar vegan cheese also added an additional flavor profile that was pleasantly tangy. I loved it.
Next, I sampled Mac’s Reprise. I am a fan of pasta on pizza, and the description of elbow macaroni mixed with vegan ground beef, vegan mozzarella, and cheddar cheeses with a drizzle of hot sauce, seemed like the right choice. It was. The pie offered the chewy bite of the macaroni, and the combo of the soy beef and cheese tasted anything but vegan. The ingredient combination was savory and satisfying, and tasted incredible. I enjoyed this slice as well. Hat’s off to one of the best of Brooklyn’s vegan pizza restaurants.
558 Driggs Avenue // (718) 387-2668
Two Boots has been operating since 1987, offering up inventive vegan pizzas with kitschy names like the Earth Mother. Two Boots is an enormous operation. There are plenty of tables inside including casual, high-top tables up front, or larger tables in the back. The shop has a brisk take-out business where they sell traditional, vegetarian, or vegan pies that cost around $28.00 for a large. There was only one vegan pie available at the counter, but there are six on the menu if you order ahead.
I tried a slice of V is for Vegan pizza. The ingredient list was long and included artichokes, red onions, shiitake mushrooms, sweet red pepper pesto, basil pesto, and Daiya cheese. This slice exceeded my expectations because I thought it had a lot of components. I was pleasantly surprised, and this version foiled the notion that vegan pizza is boring.
The ingredients really meshed well, and the crust was crisp even though there were a lot of toppings. My favorite flavors were the pesto that added a salty, sweet pepper, and peppery basil kick to the delicately flavored artichoke and shitake mushrooms. The red onion kept its snap, and the crunch was a welcome addition. A slice here is $4.50, which is well worth it because of all the expensive ingredients.
If your boots are made for walkin’, walk on over to Two Boots to check out some of the best vegan pizza in Brooklyn.
159 Greenpoint Avenue // (347) 763-0152
Adelina’s is a warm, cozy restaurant decorated with artwork by street artists from the ’80s and stacked wine barrels in the corners. It is the first place in Brooklyn to serve natural wines, some of which are served on tap.
They feature Italian – vegetarian and plant-based food in a relaxed, sit-down experience that makes for an incredible meal. Adelina’s serves a 12” “Pinsa Romana” style pizza, where the dough is prepared 48 hours ahead of time.
The “Pinsa Romana” is soft on the inside with a crispy texture on the outside. It is flattened by hand to resemble a long oval and cut into tiny squares. The crust possesses a complex flavor because it is made with wheat, soy, and rice flour, more water, and less salt than a traditional crust. The resulting puffy dough is perfect for adding tasty vegetables and cheeses.
I chose the il Funghetto vegan pizza, which included marinara sauce, vegan mozzarella, and Chiodini mushrooms (small mushrooms that resemble little nails). The result was a meaty, woody mushroom flavor on top of creamy cheese and a light marinara sauce. This Pinsa was delicate in taste and had a pillowy, cloud-like crust. I paired it with a natural sparkling white wine, and I was in vegan pizza heaven.
If you ask me what food I could eat for the rest of my life, my answer would be pizza. I was surprised and delighted with the style and taste of the Brooklyn vegan pizza versions I sampled on my tour of Greenpoint and Williamsburg. While I am a meat and cheese lover, I wouldn’t turn down another opportunity to devour the hand-crafted vegan pizza offerings from these establishments around Brooklyn again.
Which of these vegan pizza restaurants in Brooklyn do you most want to try? Let me know in the comments section below!
Jeanine Consoli is a freelance travel writer, photographer, and foodie based in Washington Crossing, PA. A retired elementary school teacher, she used her summers to feed her passion for travel and kept journals of all the destinations she explored. Today, Jeanine is working as a writer full-time.
She loves uncovering the history and understanding the culture of each location, including the local flavors of each place. She has traveled extensively in the United States and Europe and is excited to keep adding to the list, finding special places that are off the beaten path both at home and abroad. You can check out more of her work by visiting her website.