When Atania Gilmore began eating vegan two years ago, she noticed that the primary thing people think of when they think of veganism is how restrictive it is. Gilmore discovered the opposite.
As someone who has been cooking all her life, she found time in the kitchen became more fun as a vegan. It pushed her to be more creative, learning about seeds, nuts and grains and the plethora of things one can do with them.
"When I went vegan, it was a whole new world," says Gilmore.
But something still was lacking.
"One of the things I really missed was cheese," she says, adding that vegan cheese doesn't taste very good. So she played with and perfected her own vegan cheese recipes and decided to make a business out of it. Wanting to take the idea further into starting a restaurant, she chose cheese's perfect partner: pizza.
In a building constructed in 1905, now with restored wood floors and contemporary-meets-tropical décor, she opened Allie's Vegan Pizzeria and Café near NorthTown Mall two weeks ago. The menu consists of the sort of pizzas ($10.25-$14.50) she's been making for herself for months.
Thus far, Gilmore says the Wild Mushroom is the best seller. Crimini, chanterelle and porcini mushrooms are paired with smoked Gouda and scallions atop the New York-style, scratch-made, cold-fermented and hand-tossed crust used for every pizza. The Thai Peanut with crispy tofu, Spinach Artichoke with toasted almonds and Buffalo Chicken pizzas are other early customer favorites, she says.
Everything — aside from the meatless pepperoni, Italian sausage and chicken — is made in-house. Gilmore creates the cheeses, cultures her own soy milk for the ranch dressing and makes all the sauces and pestos from scratch. She makes her own almond milk and coffee syrups to add to the Doma espresso, sweetens the lemonade with maple syrup and fresh-squeezes fruit and vegetable juice with her masticating juicer.
The cold case — contents changing with the seasons — displays salads, Gilmore's oil-free classic and buffalo hummus, and cheesecake. Even though Gilmore focuses on serving a healthy menu, she made sure to include dessert, and her cheesecake stays deliciously within healthy territory, with its almond-and-date crust filled with cashew cream and fruit. ♦
Allie's Vegan Pizzeria and Cafe • 4803 N. Nevada • Open Mon-Thu, 11 am-8 pm; Fri-Sat, 11 am-9 pm; Sun, 11 am-7 pm • facebook.com/alliesveganpizzeriacafe • 321-7090