I’ve never reviewed a restaurant on my blog that isn’t vegan. Until now.
Jen and I recently traveled to Baltimore for a conference and of course, any time you go to a new city you have to find the best vegan restaurants and try them out. Unfortunately, after a few failed attempts we discovered Baltimore isn’t as vegan-friendly as we’d hoped.
However, and this is a pretty big however, we did discover Verde Pizza on South Montford Avenue and, while it’s far from vegan, our gluten-free, vegan lives will never be the same.
We met a friend of Jen’s for lunch on her recommendation. I was disappointed that we weren’t going to a vegan restaurant but glancing over the menu online it seemed like there could be some nice options and they do advertise a “nearly gluten free” pizza.
We had no trouble finding the corner restaurant, were promptly seated and ordered one of their “nearly” gluten-free pizzas (the Verdure Miste) with no cheese and what we got was quite simply the greatest gluten-free, vegan, wood-fired pizza we have ever tasted. The crust was out of this world and the freshness of the ingredients was incredible. It was one of those “are you sure this is gluten free?” moments since the crust was stretchy and crispy and delicious. Perfetto!
Now, they probably could sprinkle on some vegan cheese on any of these pies … but they better not. They are perfect just the way they are. Sono stato chiaro?
And the atmosphere? When all my hard work finally pays off and I have an extra million dollars and finally open that really nice vegan restaurant in Ithaca … I’m going to have the people of Verde come help with the decor (and I will consult with them on turning their place vegan). Verde è Bello!
They did such an incredible job of designing a beautiful, welcoming and upscale space with the perfect touches around every corner. Not convinced? Check out this photo of their bar area on their website. Nice, huh?
The second time we were there (this time for dinner) we actually got to meet the owner, Edward. An Italian-American from Brooklyn. He spent a good 20 minutes telling us about the place and was full of questions about our diet. He really listened and you can tell he puts a ton of care into each item on the menu.
Why are their gluten-free pizzas “nearly” gluten-free? They prepare them with 100% gluten free flour (shipped directly from Italy) in a dedicated gluten-free prep area and use an independent gluten-free paddle to move them in and out of the oven … but their pizza shares the same 900 degree space as the regular pizzas. The crust cooks for about 90 seconds and comes out with tiny air holes and crispy edges. Jen, who has been gluten-free for over ten years, didn’t have a reaction so I am convinced that gluten “can be cooked off,” in spite of what we’ve been told.
From where we were seated, we also got to watch each of our pizzas being handmade in the open kitchen and the dough that is formed is stretchy. Exactly what you would want a pizza dough to act like. I also am convinced Edward is quite proud of his pizza maker … since it’s his son. Tutto in famiglia!
If you live in Baltimore, go to Verde. If you plan to go to Baltimore, plan to go to Verde. If you know someone who lives in Baltimore, send them to Verde. If you’re driving anywhere within an hour of Baltimore … go out of your way to get to Verde. And tell them the Meaty Vegan sent you. Capish?
Really … how good are their pizzas? Jen and I each ate one ourselves that night and we ordered another one to go. Fuhgeddaboudit!
Oh yeah … go vegan.