Category Archives: Cruzer Pizza & Pasta

Vegan Cheese Takes Over the Neighborhood!

Upon learning that I’m vegan, 9 out of 10 people will respond by saying some variation of “Oh my stars, I would just keel over and die right here on this spot if I couldn’t have my beloved cheese!” For the 6 years I was a vegetarian, I said the same exact thing. But then eventually I went vegan and, oddly enough, I never miss cheese. Well almost never–since I’ve gone vegan the only time I crave curds and whey is occasionally when I make spaghetti I think it might be nice to have parmesan to go with it. And I don’t mean a fresh, gourmet parmesan. I mean the dry, shitty Kraft kind. It’s not like I was never into cheese either (au contraire, I was known to go through a small wheel of gouda in one day and I would eat goat cheese smeared on anything and everything). You would think I’d get cravings occasionally, but for whatever reason I just don’t.

So when a wave of vegan pizza options popped up around town I thought it was pretty cool but I wasn’t in a huge hurry to try them. But when I realized that there was vegan pizza within walking distance of my house, I figured I should go support any establishment that offers vegan options. Off I went to Lucifer’s Pizza.
Lucifer’s uses Teese cheese from Chicago Soy Dairy. I ordered a pie that was half Hawaiian (sans the ham) and half mushroom. Let’s talk about the non-cheese elements first. The crust was good, the mushrooms were fresh, and my favorite thing about the Hawaiian side was that it had a generous sprinkle of coconut flakes on it which was a totally sweet and yummy addition. I had a major problem with the sauce though. It tasted like they just opened up a can of plain tomato sauce and dumped it on. It was completely devoid of seasoning of any sort. It gave the pizza sort of a bitter taste. I tend to prefer my pizza sauce to be more in the vain of Papa John’s which is slightly sweet and smacks of basil and oregano. Lucifer’s sauce is just lame-o.
As for the Teese…it was…ok. It didn’t have much of a taste. It was pretty melted which is impressive for a vegan cheese. My biggest beef with the Teese was this strange tendency for it to stick to my teeth. Literally every time I took a bite of pizza, I had to use my napkin to scrape the Teese remnants off my incisors. Luckily I was eating this with the boyfriend, so I wasn’t mortified to be constantly de-flaking my mouth, but I am here to tell you that this is NOT ideal first date food. Overall, my pizza was enjoyable but I am in no rush to run back to Lucifer’s. The next time I’m there I will definitely just get a pizza with no cheese, because the Teese just really didn’t do anything for me. Hopefully in the mean time, they will do something with that subpar sauce as well.

A couple days after I had gone to Lucifer’s, I heard that ANOTHER pizza place in Los Feliz was now offering vegan pies, this time, with the infamous new Daiya cheese which is so cheese-like it has been known to cause vegans to questions whether it actually contains dairy. The place is Cruzer Pizza and, despite being a frequent customer of Cruzers neighbor Cap ‘N’ Cork, I never even knew this place existed. Cruzer is literally a hole-in-the-wall with a counter and no seating, so I ordered a half Hawaiian, half vegan pepperoni and mushroom pie to go and brought it to the boyfriend’s for lunch.

In general, I am not a fan of meat analogs, but I thought if I was trying the fake cheese, I might as well try it with the other new vegan options offered. Both sides of our pie were insanely delicious. We have to start with the cheese. Cruzer uses a mix of Daiya’s mozzarella and cheddar flavors, which seems like an odd choice–I don’t remember cheddar as being a typical pizza cheese–but let me tell you, the two cheeses melt together in a delightfully gooey mess. I am struggling to find the words to describe the sheer awesomeness of Daiya, but I feel that any description I could come up with would be inadequate. Let’s just say Daiya cheese on a pizza rocks my world. Oddly though, Daiya also has a tendency to stick to one’s teeth but it is extremely minimal–nothing like the adhesive bond that Teese seems to posess.

Even more surprising than me loving a fake cheese, is me loving the fake meat Cruzer uses! The ham on our Hawaiian pizza was so delish! The thin squares are sweet and salty bites that thankfully don’t taste enough like real ham to gross me out. The fake pepperoni (pictured at top) is not the greasy round slices one finds on regular pizza but instead are little spicy crumbles, more akin to bac ‘n’ bits in size and shape. As for the mushrooms, they are not dry, limp button mushrooms but are so big and juicy they might actually be portabellas.

Cruzer had me hooked from the first bite, so it wasn’t long before I was dialing them up for a delivery, this time going for a pie with fake chicken and mushrooms. Everything was as delcicious as before…except the chicken which was too much like the fake meats that I hate–thick, chewy, and way too close to real chicken for me. But no worries, I just picked it off and crammed an ENTIRE PIE into my big German head (please don’t tell anyone this). I had to run an extra 99 miles the next day to make up for it, but it was so worth it!

Until recently, I rarely had any sort of craving for cheese, but now that Daiya has entered my vernacular, I often find myself daydreaming about the gooey, stretchy, tasty pizza served at Cruzer. If Lucifer’s has any desire to keep a vegan customer base, they need to ditch the Teese and start piling on the Daiya.

Lucifer’s Pizza
1958 Hillhurst Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Cruzer Pizza
4449 Prospect Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90027