Restaurant Review: Viva Herbal Pizzeria

Viva Herbal Pizzeria
179 2nd Avenue
(between 11th Street and 12th Street)
East Village, Manhattan

Vegiboys Rating (2.5/4)

New York City is no stranger to pizzerias, and Viva Herbal Pizzeria, located in the East Village just a short walk from Union Square, can easily be mistaken for any standard pizza joint, with the usual simple décor, counter service, and a small eat-in area at the front of the restaurant.

As the only pizzeria in the city that caters specifically to the vegan and vegetarian crowd, the menu at Viva is where they differentiate themselves. While plenty of the typical pizza styles are available, they stand out for their wide range of unique vegi-friendly creations. They also offer a full variety of other Italian cuisine options, from calzones to pastas, but we decided to try slices from four of their more delicious looking pies.

The vegan Zen pizza was loaded with tofu (infused with green tea herbs), shiitake and maitake mushrooms, onions, sundried tomato, roasted garlic, and a basil pesto on top of a spelt crust. The result was an impressive range of colors and textures in the toppings, but an unexpectedly bland taste. I found myself loading the pizza with garlic powder and chipotle sauce to give it more flavor.

The vegan Canja pizza gave us a similar experience. With onion, tomato, garlic, calamata olives, tempeh, hemp seed, and hempseed nuts with a basil pesto on a spelt crust, we expected far more kick to the taste based on the slice’s appearance. Instead, we again relied upon the available seasonings to spice it up a bit for ourselves.

The simpler pizzas were far more to our liking. A seitan-topped slice had some resemblance to a carnivore’s sausage pizza, and the Al Pesto pizza (with a simple pesto sauce and mozzarella) was our favorite from what we tried – simple, but tasty. We regrettably concluded that the presence of cheese made all the difference to us for this particular meal, though we very much believe that vegan pizza has plenty of potential high levels of delectableness.

To drink, we chose a Virgil’s rootbeer and a Reed’s gingerale (they have a nice selection of beverages). They also offer a selection of Vegan Treats desserts, from which we had a nicely-made tiramisu (the dark chocolate walls encasing the cake were delicious). We also tried their ultra-frozen strawberry ice cream, which proved difficult to consume with our plastic utensils, though we managed well enough to enjoy the dessert.

At $16 each, Viva is a pretty good value in the world of gourmet pizzas, though we unfortunately didn’t find the food’s flavors to stand out for us overall. That said, we gotta respect that Viva is doing something totally different than any other pizzeria in the city with their entirely vegi-safe menu, and for that alone, we recommend it for its very specific niche in the vegetarian world.

Food (2.5/4)

Atmosphere & Service

Value (2.5/4)

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