Okay so I should probably address the elephant in the room. How can you have vegan pizza if you can't eat cheese? Well PLY have given it a jolly good go and so we trundled down to check out their new range of Veggie & Vegan pizzas, sides and desserts.
I’ve always been a big fan of PLY and have a particular soft spot for them over all of the other pizzerias in the city. Why? Because of their bases. These Neapolitan style beauties have everything they should do – with a thin layer of crispiness to the crust which gives way to a cloud-like interior that is soft, chewy and moist. Brilliant.
On to the Vegan & Veggie options and PLY have a dedicated menu available with a proper decent selection. Pizza wise there’s the Margherita, the Portobello with mushrooms, truffle and garlic oil, the Pear & Blue Cheese, the Aubergine, Peppers & Olives and the Chorizo & Squash all of which are full-on Vegan.
They are vegan because they use a rice-based mozzarella substitute – Mozzarisella – which is made from whole Italian brown rice in the hope to create an environmentally friendly (and ethic) alternative to diary. It also comes in a Blue form, as well as Smoked and a Ricotta-style creamy variation.
So, what was the cheese like? The million-dollar question. Did it work? Of course, I would have preferred to have ‘proper’ cheese on my pizza but I was pleasantly surprised with how good the cheese was and how it in no way damaged my pizza-eating experience.
For vegans, I can see how this would be a very attractive prospect – being able to taste PLY’s lovely pizzas without worrying about the lack of cheese. You can get the best of both worlds and the added bonus of the dishes being much better for the environment is a little cherry on top of what I would consider to be some of the best pizzas in the city.
Out of the 4 variations we tried the best was undoubtedly the Aubergine, Peppers and Olive number, with a pesto drizzle that elevated it beyond the rest and provided a welcome balance to the vegetables and olives. The Pear & Blue Cheese was also excellent, and as someone who really enjoys the non-vegan version – this was the one which most resembled a ‘proper cheese’ pizza. The added walnuts on top are a revelation too.
We also tried the Vegan Chorizo & Squash pizza which was excellent – even with the knowledge that I wasn’t eating ‘real’ chorizo. The same characteristic smokiness was still there, perfectly complementing the sweet chunks of squash on top. Again, it wasn’t as good as the meat version but I don’t think that’s the idea.
Alongside these lovelies we tried a couple of their salads with the Beetroot Carpaccio with goats’ cheese and maple walnuts as well as the fresh Fennel & Orange Salad served with watercress, honey and thyme. Although these two aren’t vegan – they’re still veggie friendly, as are the Asparagus pizza served white with mozzarisella, asparagus and ricotta and the Capra piled up with goats’ cheese, basil pesto, confit tomatoes and rocket.
Finally, we all stuck our forks into the Vegan Cake off the Dessert menu which was made up of Chocolate, Coconut and Raspberries. It was a true indulgence and the lack of eggs wasn’t even noticed as we scoffed it down in record time. It was deliciously rich and chocolatey – which is how it should be if you ask me.
The PLY Vegan & Vegetarian Menu is available now.
PLY, 26 Lever St, Manchester M1 1DW