Monday, January 31, 2011

Review: Blackbird

Here at I'll Eat You, we (rather generously, I think) acknowledge the right of vegans to exist. And we firmly believe that no person who is dairy-averse, whether through personal conviction or lactose intolerance, should be denied the glories of pizza. That's where Blackbird Pizzeria comes in, and at the urging of my lactose-intolerant and almost-vegan sister, we recently dialed up for some delivery.

As you might expect, our order came via bearded bicycle deliveryman. This affable velocipedist brought us one tomato pie, one pizza that was half "South Philly" (with seitan sausage, broccoli rabe and eggplant) and half "Fungi" (white with mushrooms and garlic butter), and a seitan cheesesteak. The tomato pie was fairly priced at $13, but the other pizzas are in the $17-19 range. This is presumably due to the high cost of the Daiya vegan cheese that is used on the pizzas. Some of the greatest bearded scientific minds of our generation are employed at the Daiya faux-cheesery, where they use cutting-edge technology to coax tapioca starch, various oils and "inactive yeast" into a shredded cheese-like substance that then cunningly pretends to melt atop these vegan pies.

So the cheese isn't real cheese. Not really even close. But, it's inoffensive enough, and I'm happy to report that it doesn't detract from the real star of the Blackbird pizza, which is the crust. Crisp but not crunchy, chewy but not doughy, it's one of the most satisfying crusts I've ever had on a pizza, vegan or otherwise. Brushed with a scrumptious garlic not-butter in the Fungi pizza, you are bound to eat at least one more slice than you intended to.

The tomato pie really let both the crust and bright, slightly sweet sauce shine. There's a real appealing freshness about the sauce.

I waived my usual "no fake meat" policy to try the South Philly – I can't say I was too enamored of the seitan sausage crumbles, but if you're used to that sort of thing, you'll probably enjoy it. Same with the seitan cheesesteak, which really lacked the savoriness of the real deal. But it's clear that there's a real focus on quality ingredients and careful preparation, and that earns my respect.

And now, a word about the boxes. This is something that I'm at least twice as impressed by as I really should be, but the pizza boxes are perforated and scored in such a way as to turn the top of the box into plates, and the bottom of the box into a wedge-shaped container to store your leftover pizza in. The people who were with me will attest to my cries of amazement when I figured these pizza-keeping wedges out. They're not perfect; to be honest they're shaped a little awkwardly and will probably slide out of your refrigerator at least once when you open the door, but it's a pretty clever trick in the "surprise and delight" vein.

So I urge everyone, regardless of dairy orientation, to give the Blackbird a try. I wonder if they can institute a bring-your-own-cheese policy, just so I can have some honest-to-goodness cheese on their magnificent crust ...

Blackbird Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

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