Morelli Zorelli are a relatively new pizza place. Situated on Brighton's Western Road, they took over from what used to be called the Gourmet Pizza Club, which was well-known amongst vegans for catering properly to them. The story is that when the new business took over, they found themselves inundated with indignant vegans wanting to know where the pizza they used to get here had gone.
Rather than simply saying "We don't do vegan" (which admittedly would be new business suicide in Brighton, but nonetheless) they sent out an online survey, asking their vegan clients which options they would like to see added to the menu. How good is that? Especially as I like filling in forms and surveys. No really, I find it quite enjoyable. Especially when you get to rate things one to ten and tick boxes. Anyone else understand this? I get a weird sense of satisfaction from it.
Please tell me I'm not alone in the world.
I don't believe I said anything interesting or helpful in my survey. The only thing I absolutely require on a pizza is jalapenos, plus fresh tomato added afterwards, though I don't know if I even remembered that whilst contentedly form-filling.
My favourite pizza of the evening: Smoked Tofu and Artichoke.
It was a funny arrangement. We all got plunked in the downstairs dining area, seated at tables like we were going to eat there, while for the next fifteen minutes the staff tried to get rid of the last group of pizza-eaters lingering upstairs. Then we all trooped up ourselves.
They'd said it would be "buffet-style" so I was initially hoping that we'd be able to grab the slices we wanted, then smuggle our plates back downstairs. Instead, they brought out one type of pizza at a time as demonstrated in the picture below - three plates being plenty enough for everyone to try each flavour.
This actually turned out to be a lot more fun as everyone got drunk (though they need to get a vegan wine on the menu to match the new pizzas!) and the standing-around-eating-on-your-feet-like-at-a-party thing was far more conducive to mingling and chatting to everyone else there than being at tables would have been.
This is Matt, who kept running home every five minutes to deliver slices to his ill and absent wife, and deserves some sort of medal.
I'm sure you want to goggle at the pizzas more than you want to read my description of the event, so here they are:
(Photos kindly provided by Justine Turner, who was in the group after me. I didn't get to try all of these, boo shame - look at the ham and pineapple!!)
Here are the TWELVE new dishes that will now be permanently on the menu.
They served about 5 of these varieties to my group: Chicken and Pesto, Courgette Aubergine and Mushroom, Smoked Tofu and Artichoke, BBQ Chicken, and Pesto Mushroom and Asparagus. They were using two brands of vegan cheese and two types of base, one of which was gluten-free.
I loved the gluten-free base - it was quite firm and had a bit of bite to it, which I actually prefer to the slippy sloppy slithery standard pizza base. On the other hand, I wasn't overly enthused by either of the cheeses (one was Violife, I've forgotten the other), finding them both to be bland and tasteless. However, I'm really not a fan of pre-packaged vegan cheeses on the whole. I think they'd do much better to make some of their own cheese - perhaps cashew-based - and use it as a type of specific topping rather than slather all the pizzas with any packaged stuff.
That aside, I did really enjoy the Smoked Tofu and Artichoke. The BBQ chicken was pretty good too. The general consensus amongst the assembled was that anything smoked = good. Truth right there. Also, I've not used onions in cooking for so long that I'd come to view them as unnecessary, but this pizza reintroduced me to the joy that is onions that have been caramelised.
I didn't love most of the pizzas, but this was partly because of the cheese, and partly because they weren't my favourite flavours - however I think anyone reading should bear in mind that being a healthy health healther who didn't grow up eating much pizza, I'm not that fussed about pizza, I don't have pizza on a regular basis and I'm very particular about my toppings on the rare occasions I do eat a pizza. My own particular fussiness didn't matter anyway; this was a great fun evening socialising with all the other vegans and general food lovers who showed up. Also
IT WAS FREE FFS :D:D:D
I'm really impressed with this place's enthusiasm to cater to its vegan customers. It was a well-executed event and the staff seemed to be enjoying themselves as well as the guests. A very nifty marketing ploy too, of course: since I always always prefer my food spicy, the Veggie Hot was the flavour I wanted to try, and the Duck and Smokey Joe sound really interesting too. Both my non-vegan friend and I agreed we'd definitely go back!