CLOSED: Virtuous Pie (Toronto)

Vegan pizzas don't typically excite me - the dough is hard and the cheese too gooey. Yet, Virtuous Pie had my friend raving about how good they were … and she has had A LOT of vegan products. So, if I was going to tuck into a completely plant-based pizza, it might as well be at one of the best.

Unlike some other establishments, Virtuous Pie isn’t trying to remake a traditional pepperoni pie in a cheese-free and meatless form. Instead, they reinvent pizzas with flavourful vegetarian ingredients and get rid of the vegan cheese all together using a creamy cashew “mozzarella” that’s drizzled on like sauce.

Take the Stranger Wings ($15), where the chicken is not the mock version but rather deep fried cauliflower nuggets tossed in a slightly sweet and fairly spicy Buffalo sauce. Scallions and a “blue cheese” dressing , which tastes uncannily like ranch, is sprinkled on top so that you get a hit of spice and creaminess. Fried shallots and scallions sprinkled over everything for a fresh oniony finish. Of all the pizzas, it was the most flavourful.

Their Superfunghi ($14) uses a base of wild mushrooms that when toasted creates a meaty quality. There’s a light drizzle of cashew mozzarella, herbed potato cream, and a truffle ricotta, leaving the peppery arugula to become another prominent flavour. This pizza was a favourite of the table and adding a few drops of their chili oil (warning, use sparingly) elevates the pie to a whole new level.

Sadly, the Street Corn ($14), a version that seems tasty on paper, was the most disappointing of the bunch. The menu simply makes it sound so tempting: garlic paprika butter, feta, cashew mozzarella, and charred corn? Sign me up! But, the corn is so chewy and gummy that they actually sticks to your teeth, not unlike those dreaded caramel squares from Halloween.

While I don’t know why the corn’s texture is so sticky, my hypothesis is that Virtuous Pie uses frozen corn and the garlic butter, when baking, starts to semi fry and dry the kernels. I’d suggest switching to a canned variety and sprinkling the corn onto the pizza after it’s cooked, like arugula. The pizza is also nothing like the punchy Mexican street corn, it’s in desperate need of seasoning – even if it’s just more salt, or better yet, a smoky Cajun dressing.

In the end, their pizzas may be better described as flatbread topped with flavourful toppings. Crusts come in regular or gluten free form and surprisingly the later form is what impressed the table.

While the gluten free version does look like a crispy cracker, behind the crunch there’s also a bit of chewiness.  Meanwhile, the regular crust’s air pockets makes it look fluffy, but bite through the dough and you’re met with a dense hard crust that’s oddly similar to the gluten-free varieties of delivery pizza.

Virtuous Pie offers a seasonally changing variety of vegan ice cream, so a flight of three scoops ($8) finished the meal. Although the saffron rose water sounded exotic, the saffron was so overpowering that there’s no rosewater essence and it’s like eating a savoury ice cream with whole pistachios thrown in. It’s definitely an acquired taste, one that no one in our table of five enjoyed… my friend described it best when she noted it tastes like chlorine.

Of the three scoops, I enjoyed the Thai tea the most. While there was a bit of grittiness in texture, it’s at least more accurately described and tastes delicious. The bourbon vanilla was the creamiest of the bunch, but alas lacked any bourbon flavours. All in all, Virtuous Pie’s ice cream needs an overhaul and like the pizza, show me the flavours!

For an after work bite, order before 5:30pm and they offer great happy hour specials with $2 off many pizzas, house wine, and their ice cream flights. Everyone is oh so friendly and accommodating, even suggesting we put in the dessert orders ahead of time to secure the deal.

I’d be lying if I said Virtuous Pie is one of the better pizzas I’ve had – there are ton that stand above it. But, for the vegan variety, I haven’t tasted anything better.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 611 College Street

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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