Monday, December 10, 2012

Oasis in Sarasota provides for vegan options abundanzza

Florida is nothing short of a vegan wasteland.  There are a few outstanding oasises but for the most part there are cities with no vegan options short of a juice bar or coffee house.  Sarasota is one of them.  I don't actually know how things like this escape me as I've been here more than a few times but through Happy Cow, up pops another place with a full vegan menu.  I am continually blown away by how those of us who are looking for these options seem to have to look far far under the radar.

Vertoris Pizza is just such a place.

It's also really weird since I just looked at HC again for the correct name and nothing came up under Sarasota.
Well, Happy Cow did say there were a few items on the menu and requested a review to see if they should keep this listing.  They most definitely should.  The restaurant comes up under Bradenton.

A mom and pop pizzeria with about 9 tables and a most amazing buzz.  3 TVs played sports channels and the kitchen was grinding out food.  About 30% of the diners are ordering off the gluten free or vegan menu.  I hate when places lump these two dietary choices together as only 1 is really a dietary choice, veganism being a lifestyle and philosophy and belief system.  And there really ARE two different menus.

I went a little (ha) off the gluten free diet I've been following the last few days and ordered the garlic breadsticks with dayia and marinara.  I loved them even though the garlic wasn't pervasive and the marinara was more like a chunky tomato.  Why is this important?  It really isn't but it's hard to scoop up the sauce if the chunks keep falling off the bread.  A milled sauce might have been more appropriate but the crust, (and why didn't I ask for a gluten free crust??), was outstanding.  And what is truly bad with Daiya?  So this dish is a hit.

Garlic breadsticks are really a whole pie with garlic and Daiya.

Potato skins are something I haven't had in years because aside from the potato I won't have the cheese, bacon or sour cream.  Which leaves a potato with skin and why should I waste calories on deep frying it?  These were deep fried.  I think.  But maybe not since the skins weren't really crispy.  I'm thinking now, do I really know how potato skins are SUPPOSED to be prepared?  I always thought baked to a well done state.  There was a meld of textures and there also was a tad of oil in the bottom of each skin, a bit more grease than I'd have preferred, but when you melt Daiya, (there's that layer of miracle again), on anything it ratchets up the vegan desirability a notch or three and when you add the chunky marinara and then put a dollop of vegan sour cream on top it just comes together in a decadent combination of crunch, smooth, and shmoosh.  Another hit.

What can I say about a salad except the wine balsamic dressing was really nice and the greens crisp and fresh.  What else needs to be said about a salad?

My entree got a little confusing as I was matching something off the vegan menu and something else that was labeled Dairy Free off of the gluten free menu.  (I should have checked before and I advise you to also say that you want your gluten free dish to be vegan as egg is gluten and dairy free in some circles.  I later had that thought, did check, and my dish was vegan but still, check).  I wanted the Vegan Eggplant parm but wanted a gluten free breading with daiya and gluten free pasta.  I think I got the eggplant lasagna with gluten free pasta.  At least that's what one of the waiters said I had when he looked half way through the meal.  The eggplant was a tad under cooked, well parts were, but as the dish sat and steamed there were less and less chewy bites and more shmooshy ones.  There was a bit of doughy toothiness to the gluten free pasta but I know my palate isn't accustomed to the different consistency yet.  It had a delicious sauce and daiya and came together very nicely but I missed the crunch of a parm dish.

There were two vegan cupcakes, one a chocolate with peanut butter icing and the other a pumpkin with cream cheese icing.  I liked them both, my vote going to the chocolate, (for obvious reasons), because everyone knows that chocolate kicks any other dessert butt, and the other vote going to the pumpkin.  They were small enough to eat a few more but in the interest of self restraint I kept it to half of each for each of us.

This is by far a go to place not because the it's the ONLY place but because it's a place to find and extensive menu, they are trying to cover different diets, they seem to know what they're talking about, and although this might be a minus to some, there are others with dining companions who are still eating animals and both can find what they're looking for here.  It does mean you might be looking at things that repulse you but I just sigh, hope in the great scheme of things that the animal on the plate next to me is in a better place, that the omnivore next to me is exposed to a different impression of vegan food.  (The pilot I was with was open to trying everything although Daiya didn't bowl him over and convert him on the spot to a tapioca seeking refugee from the dairy side of the street).

We both got what we wanted, the food was good solid Italian hearty comfort food and I'll definitely be seeing the inside of this place again.


Kurt said...

Hehe, a bit biased towards chocolate there. But yeah, chocolate pretty much beats every other dessert. I love the look of the pasta btw.

Sameer said...

I am a veggie. Thanks for sharing this post. I just love it.