If you’re not vegan, the best vegan pizza in Berlin is a simple marinara. Juicy, sweet tomatoes, a sprinkle of imported Italian oregano, maybe a few marinated artichokes or slices of zucchini to round things off – who can argue with that?
We’ll tell you who: Berliners who’ve been doing the animal-free thing for years and are sick of red sauce as their only option. Just as vegan ice cream eaters shouldn’t have to live off sorbet alone, so too do vegan pizza lovers deserve the pleasures of a decadent, creative – and, yes, cheesy – slice. Fortunately, a growing number of pizzerias, exclusively vegan or otherwise, have recognised this, and their meat-free, dairy-free pies are so good that even carnivores ought to take notice. Here are our top 5 favourites.
No-meat Neapolitan: Al Catzone
Named after the villain in the German version of Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers, located in a former Sozialkaufhaus with coin-operated kiddie rides intact, this all-vegan pizzeria is one quirky newcomer – but the pies mean business. Where else can you find an animal-free take on the classic Neapolitan salsiccia e friarielli, with housemade seitan sausage and Campanian wild broccoli atop a creamy base? The margherita with cashew mozzarella is one of the most convincingly cheesy versions out there, while Germans will appreciate the “Helmut”: mozzarella, sausage and freshly fried potato chips. The exceptionally light, airy crust means you’ll have room for a starter, like montanara (fried mini-pizzas) with jackfruit genovese sauce.
- Eingang auf dem Mehringplatz, Brandesstr. 7, Kreuzberg, Wed-Sun 17-22, alcatzone.com
Scrumptious science: Gemello
We introduced German chemist turned Neapolitan pizza wizard Stefan Kugler during last year’s Pizza Week, but only recently got the chance to try one of his creations. And what a beauty it was: the Amalfi, a white-and-green pie with homemade cashew cream, herby pesto and bits of preserved lemon, ranks among the few truly memorable pizzas we’ve eaten lately. Its brethren, topped with all sorts of experimental, sometimes lacto-fermented goodness, seem equally promising. The chef still doesn’t have a shop of his own, but you can track him down on Instagram (or hire him for your own private pizza party).
Charred crusts and anarchy: La Stella Nera
Pizza equals politics at this six-year-old Neukölln venture, cooperatively run by a group of lefties who extol the humane and environmental benefits of veganism on their website. It’s not all about ideology, though. It’s about chewy, wood-fired dough, homemade vegan ricotta and irresistible topping combos like the Carciofina Piccante: soy cheese, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes and spicy house-smoked tofu. If charred crust (“black” is in the name, after all) isn’t your thing, you can stuff a bunch of those same toppings in a formidable panuozzo, aka “pizza sandwich”, that spans nearly the length of the table.
- Leykestr. 18, Neukölln, Tue-Sun 17-23, www.lastellanera.de
Wedding salvation: Sotto
A stone’s throw from Humboldthain, this cute family-run pizzeria caters not only to vegans, but to fans of crispy non-Neapolitan crusts, not to mention Wedding residents of all dietary persuasions looking for a nice yet reasonably priced dinner. The menu is evenly split between cheesy vegetarian pies and all-plant ones with a tomato, pesto or almond cream base. Go for a conventional margherita, marinara or funghi, or spring for unique toppings like smoked carrots, pumpkin and radicchio or kale and a red wine reduction.
- Neue Hochstr. 25, Wedding, Wed-Sun 16-22
Something for everyone: Zero Stress
Nicola Marchetti, founder of this food truck turned pair of laid-back Neapolitan pizza joints, is vehemently against “radical veganism”. So yes, there’s prosciutto, salami and mozzarella all over the menu, but it also happens to contain a sizeable selection of great vegan options – like the “Hungry Pirate”, with non-dairy cheese, sweet potatoes, sun-dried tomatoes and rosemary, or the potato-centric “Pornokartoffel”. Visit them in Friedrichshain or Kreuzberg, or look out for the truck at concerts in Tempelhof and Wuhlheide over the summer.
- Colbestr. 3, Friedrichshain, daily 16-22; Lausitzer Pl. 10, Kreuzberg, daily 17-24, www.zerostresspizza.de