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2013 VegCharlotte Awards – Pizza!

Where do vegans and vegetarians in Charlotte, NC like to go for pizza?

The vegans have voted and the results are below!

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First Place – Brixx Pizza.  Brixx is known for their thin-crust pizzas, huge selection of lacto-vegetarian options, and decent vegan options. Among vegans, the Greek Pizza appears to be the favorite; vegetarians prefer Pear & Gorgonzola.  They are very accommodating when it comes to customizing your pizza – you can, for example, ask that jalapenos or olives be added to your pizza and they won’t charge you extra for the additional toppings.  It’s also one of your most economical options – a pizza runs about $9.95, coupons abound, there’s a Two for Tuesday promotion (buy two entrees, get two free), and after 10:00 PM Monday-Thursday (11:00 PM Friday and Saturday) pizzas are buy one, get one free.  

Brixx does NOT charge extra for vegan cheese.  Heck, I’ve even ordered extra vegan cheese on my pizza and they did not charge extra!

There are now five Brixx locations in Charlotte plus one in Gastonia.

Second place, Mellow Mushroom, “good even without the cheese!”  Mellow Mushroom is very popular among those who like a thicker, “breadier” crust.  The Mega-Veggie pizza was the one most often cited.  Voters also liked that, if you don’t feel like pizza,  Mellow Mushroom offers a choice of 5 vegetarian hoagies (which can be made vegan by leaving off the cheese and mayo, or subbing Daiya cheese).

I personally have a bit of a problem with Mellow Mushroom.

First, it’s their policy to charge extra for vegan cheese – BOO!

Second, that policy is not evenly applied to everyone.

I know many people who claim they have NEVER been charged for vegan cheese, yet my partner and I have been charged extra for vegan cheese all but one time.  Hopefully this has nothing to do with the fact my partner is Indian or a Sikh.  Maybe some of the waitstaff is new, poorly trained, or they just don’t care.  Or maybe the charge is left up to their own discretion.  Whatever, it’s a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Two Mellow Mushroom locations – Myers Park and Ballantyne.

Third place, Fuel.  This was a surprise to me as I didn’t know Fuel offered vegan pizzas.  I think it’s a fairly recent development.  I emailed Fuel about their cheese policy and received this response:  “Our daiya cheese is the same cost as our mozzarella. Also, if you are ordering a vegan pizza, please tell the staff you would like the “vegan sauce”, it’s our FUEL Pizza sauce minus Parmesan cheese.”  If you’re vegan, Fuel probably comes closest to traditional, New York-style pizza.  The Riviera Pizza received multiple votes.  (And I ordered this recently and it was YUMMY.)  Fuel does tend to be a little expensive, but you can usually find coupons.

fuel pizza

Fuel “Riviera” Pizza. (Photo Credit: Fuel)

There are six locations in Charlotte proper, plus locations in Davidson and Rock Hill.

I highly recommend going at least once to the “Original” on Central Avenue – located in an old remodeled filling station – hence the name, “Fuel.”  (Other locations keep the gas station theme somewhat but are a little more “upscale”.)

NOTE ABOUT VEGAN PIZZAS:  They are usually much better if you eat them on-site, rather than taking them home.  Chef Charlie of Bean explained vegan cheese to me this way:  It will melt and stretch AT FIRST, but the more you reheat it the less stretchy and melty it is.  So, a vegan pizza eaten hot at the restaurant will almost always taste better than a pizza that’s been cooked, left to sit awhile under heat lamps, and then taken home and reheated.  I have found that nuking it in the microwave, rather than heating it in the oven, sometimes helps.  The crust does become a little softer but the cheese becomes more “gooey.”

There’s a new kid in the vegan pizza arena and that kid is Pizza Fusion.  Pizza Fusion’s shtick is “healthy,” flatbread-style pizza – organic vegetables and hormone-free meats and cheeses.  They also emphasize their “green” business practices and are very vegan-friendly.

Pizza Fusion stands out by offering two kinds of non-dairy cheese – Daiya and Follow Your Heart.  All their dough is vegan, which includes not only pizza crust but also breadsticks and sandwich breads and wraps.  All their sauces are vegan.  They also offer vegan brownies.

Pizza Fusion does charge extra for vegan cheese.  (“Prices differ from store to store, the only reason we have an upcharge is because the cheese is a little more expensive. The difference is $1.50 -$3.00 depending on the store and the size of the pizza.”)  Right.  Like vegan cheese costs more than organic, hormone-free cheeses or meats.  Our vegan pizzas are overall less expensive and all the pizza places know it!  (But I digress.)

Currently Pizza Fusion has just one location at The Metropolitan (Elizabeth Area), but it’s a fast growing chain that’s expanding rapidly so there could be more Charlotte locations coming soon.

One voter recommended the pizza at Whole Foods.

Among lacto-vegetarians, one delivery chain did well – Domino’s.  Both the Veggie Pan Pizza and the Pacific Veggie Pizza received votes.

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Categorised in: 2013 VegCharlotte Awards, Pizza, Restaurant Reviews

6 Responses »

  1. We always do Mellow Mushroom when traveling (no MM in our state) and it does seem arbitrary if they charge extra or not. My in-laws in Charlotte took us to Brixx one time, but we were underwhelmed. I guess we should give them another chance. We will have to check out Pizza Fusion next time we are in Charlotte.

    • Thanks for your feedback!
      I would say try Brixx again – if you like thin, crispy crust pizza.
      I think Pizza Fusion is going to be the next big vegan “thing” in Charlotte, but they have flatbread-style pizzas – so if you don’t like Brixx, you may not like Pizza Fusion. I am psyched that they are so vegan-friendly, though!
      I actually do like Mellow Mushroom and their hoagies … but there needs to be some consistency to their policy. I understand it’s a franchise and different owners may apply different rules … but when it’s arbitrary within the same restaurant, that gives me cause for concern.

  2. I am so surprises Pizza Fusion did not make the list. It has a vegan pizza on their menu and have Daiya cheese.


    • I think they are just new and a lot of people do not know about them yet. They actually have two kinds of vegan cheese … Daiya and Follow Your Heart. I just hate that they charge extra for the cheese. If they removed the charge (like Brixx and Fuel) I think they would totally explode over the vegan community.

  3. I’m new to the area and haven’t had the opportunity to check out Brixx, et al, but I have eaten at Revolution Ale House in NoDa and highly recommend it. They have yummy vegan pizza and other non-meat/dairy options. It’s a laid back place with a knowledgeable wait staff & great eats.

    • That is one pizza place I did not know about. Care to provide any details/review on the pizza you ordered? I really need to do a new pizza post because Charlotte is vegan pizza heaven. Fuel has vegan pizza (no extra charge) although they don’t advertise it (or didn’t use to) and Pizza Peel also has awesome vegan pizza and entertainment from an amazing vegan singer … David Dorenfeld. And he’s just as nice as his music is amazing.

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