It’s a cool mid-week evening that I visit Purezza. I’ve taken to spending my evenings at the gym following last month’s vows of healthiness, and the promise of pizza on a Tuesday pretty much goes against every rule I’ve made for myself over the last few weeks.
Still, old habits die hard, and since no animal product crosses the threshold of Kemptown’s finest vegan restaurant, I figured: how bad could it really be for me, anyway? It’s this logic which also allows me to order a cheeky glass (or two) of wine – but don’t let me get ahead of myself just yet.
We’re taken to our booth and promptly start by ordering a plate of dough balls (£4.45) to share, after seeing them on Instagram earlier that day. Made with sourdough, these promised to “ooze” with Purezza’s homemade ‘stringy melty cheese’. We considered ourselves intrigued: we’d heard the myths and legends surrounding Purezza’s cheese, but were yet to experience it for ourselves. Just how close to the real deal would it be? We added garlic mayo, houmous and sriracha dips to the mix, and soon found out.
I’ll start off by saying, the dough itself was soft and loaded with flavour without being heavy – which is no mean feat. The cheese was delicious too – rich and creamy, and both looked and tasted like the real thing. But was it stringy? Not quite (though try as we might!). Our attempt to create a stringy Boomerang ended in failure as we tore a dough ball open – and the cheese rather ungracefully slopped out of it. Melty and oozy indeed – and the temperature of lava – but not even a slight stringiness to it. Perhaps we were all too keen, and should have let it cool a little longer, but sadly these doughballs didn’t quite resemble my much-loved mozzarella. In terms of taste though – particularly with the garlic mayo – they put up a hell of a good fight, and we gleefully finished the plate.
So, on to the pizza itself. Purezza get mega points for portion size – we had more than enough to take home for lunch the following day (who am I kidding, it was definitely cold pizza for breakfast), after filling up on a pizza each. Accompanied with a glass each of the house red – a Primitivo that’s easy to drink – I go for the ‘Season.4.Pizza.1’, which is made up of a hearty combination of artichokes, black kalamata olives, chestnut mushrooms and smoked beetroot, topped with salad cress (£11.95) – perfect for the cooler weather and topping up on my veg intake. There’s loads going on in this pizza, including what I’m sure must be at least two of my five-a-day (I hope). The flavours go together perfectly, and I’m more than satisfied with my choice.
My dining companion meanwhile opts for the margherita (artisan mozzarella, topped with basil leaves & extra virgin olive oil, £8.95), and alternates her base with hemp flour, which I’m told offers a more savoury taste and is a bit more dense than regular dough – similar to rye bread. We both agree that mine is better, though the margherita offers a good standard no-fuss pizza for those who aren’t too fussed on loads of toppings.
Stuffed after our doughballs and pizzas, we skip dessert (though the raw tiramisu and oreo pizza both pique our interest, and we’ll be revisiting to try those). After curiously perusing the drinks menu for digestifs, I order the matcha latte which I find a little too bitter and quite thin for my liking (but it’s nothing a couple of spoonfuls of their gorgeous maple-coconut sugar doesn’t fix).
My visit to Purezza came following a long line of recommendations, to which I can now finally add my own. Though I stuffed my face with pizza, I wasn’t left with that oily, greasy heaviness which usually accompanies a pizza blow-out, and I was immensely satisfied by my meal. As a lover of cheese, I’m not sure how close you can actually get to the real thing without using some form of animal milk. But Purezza do a damn good job of trying – and they could have fooled me.
Purezza is at 12 St James’s St, Brighton BN2 1RE.