Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Vegan Dining Out @ Crazy Tomato

Well, I ended up going out for lunch today with the whole crowd from work to celebrate a member of our group's retirement. Today was his last day so he got to pick the restaurant. Lucky for me, he picked a place that I really like. Crazy Tomato has two locations in the Tri-Cities, one in Johnson City, where I live, and one in Kingsport, where I work. The one in Kingsport is fairly new, and I actually hadn't been to it yet. I had been meaning to go soon, so this was the perfect opportunity. I like to frequent the one in Johnson City a lot when it's nice and warm outside because they have this cool outdoor dining area in the back. I just love eating outside.

The new one in Kingsport was very nice. You could tell that they had spent some money and put a lot of effort into decorating the place. Being an Italian restaurant, there are, of course, lots of things on the menu that are off-limits for vegans. But just by making careful selections, and asking for a couple of ingredient omissions, I was able to enjoy a delicious lunch and come out of there absolutely stuffed to the gills.

I started out by just ordering a Garden Salad. There were several other salad options, but all of those contained cheese and/or meat. So it was definitely the Garden Salad for me. I did ask if it had bacon bits on it, it didn't. And I did ask if it had cheese on it. My server said that they sprinkle some parmesan cheese on it, so I asked for that to be left off. That left me with just all veggies, exactly what I wanted. For the dressing I selected the Oil & Vinegar. I guess this particular one was made with Red Wine Vinegar and it was really good. I guess it's been a while since I ordered a salad in a restaurant, but this one was very delicious. And I was actually pretty full when I finished it. I probably should have stopped there, but I didn't.

For my entree I ordered an individual slice (which is really more like two slices) of their Crazy Garden Pizza. It had the usual veggie pizza ingredients; onion, green pepper, mushrooms and black olives. There was just some Olive Oil brushed on the crust and I, of course, asked them to leave the cheese off. It was very delicious, as usual. And a couple of my omnivore coworkers even commented that it looked good. It did look good, and it WAS good. I had forgotten how much I liked their pizza crust.

So that was my lunch experience for Wednesday. Demonstrating once again that being vegan doesn't mean that you have to starve when you go out to a restaurant. Of course, a little starving might have done me good since I'm trying to lose weight right now, but now that I look back on it, my entire meal was basically just vegetables except for that pizza crust and the oil in the salad dressing. So while it was a lot of food, it definitely could have been a whole lot more unhealthy, especially if it hadn't been vegan.

I may have to be extra good with the lunchbox tomorrow to make up for eating so much today. I guess we'll see...

Thanks for checking in today and I'll see everybody on Thursday.


bazu said...

That looks so good- especially the salad dressing and the pizza dough. And I don't think you ate too much- the salad was all veggies and so was the pizza- a well-rounded meal in my book!

Anonymous said...

I love pizza! Since I have been vegan I have not had pizza but I never thought about just ordering veggie pizza without the cheese. AWESOME!!!! Me thinks me know what I am having for dinner........JD

NightOwl said...

OMG, that pizza looks sooo good! My husband actually makes the best pizza ever, with Follow Your Heart mozarella. He's making some right now. Yay! :)

Fairly Odd Tofu Mom said...

Pizza without cheese was such a revelation to me as a newbie vegan long ago - and I've since "converted" so many friends... it tastes like VEGETABLES that way, not a pile of goo and grease.

Love the pictures!

kennyboy said...


I'm sure you've already tried, but just in case you haven't, the absolute BEST pizza chain vegan pizza is Papa Johns, in my opnion.

When I was an omni, their pizza was probably my LEAST favorite. But as a vegan, their veggie pizza with no cheese, on the original crust (the thin crust is the only one NOT vegan, I think), is the BOMB.

It has portobella mushrooms on there, and roma tomatoes (which kinda' look like pepperoni) and they cut their green peppers small enough to where they actually cook and taste wonderful.

Mmmmmmm... If I'm not mistaken, that buttery garlic stuff that they give you to dip your crusts in is even vegan. It's definitely not healthy, but it IS vegan.

I tried really hard at first to replace the cheese on my pizzas with different types of storebought and homemade vegan cheese replacements and then, like you, one day I just tried it without anything except veggies and I was like WOW!


maybepigscanfly said...

I have a question- When you go out and order pizza how do you know that the crust is vegan. I've only ordered pizza once as a vegan and as I ate it I just hoped and prayed that the crust was vegan. I guess I could ask, but I always feel like a pain and I hate getting the "vega-what?" response. People don't get that no dairy means no butter too!

Thanks, and I too agree that it was a well rounded meal especially considering all the healthy veggies.

kennyboy said...

If it's somewhere that I am not already familiar with, which is rare because I normally stick to the places where I already know I can get vegan crust, then I just have to ask. I think it helps to sometimes use the dairy allergy excuse to make sure you get an honest answer out of them. But like you said, you normally have to remind them that butter is dairy too. I've never ran across a pizza crust with butter in it yet, although I think I have seen one advertised on TV here lately. Seems like milk is the main thing you have to worry about.

Whenever I eat pizza, I usually make it myself anyway, or order from Papa John's since I know their regular crust is vegan. They are my favorite vegan pizza right now. Sometimes, I might get Pizza Hut thin crust. And I just stay away from Dominos because I think the last I read about them said that neither their crust nor sauce were vegan.

Papa John's rules though. They've got good nutritional & ingredient info on their website, and their veggie pizza with extra sauce and no cheese is the best tasting one that I have found so far.