Metro Pizza is the latest to join the burgeoning Las Vegas vegan pizza scene — thanks in large part to Metro Pizza team member Cady Olsen, who helped owner John Arena to understand that the vegan lifestyle was more than a fad.
“Cady is like a daughter to me and she has been gently nudging me to explore vegan options,” says Arena. “I’m a dinosaur and it takes compelling reasons for me to look into the future.”
According to The Economist, which recently published their World in 2019 story about veganism, 2019 marks the year veganism makes it into the mainstream. Metro Pizza arrives to the party right on time.
“What interests me is the way this choice resides at an intersection of health, social responsibility and thoughtful compassion for all living creatures,” he says. “Once I recognized how much thought most vegans put in to their commitment it became obvious that this movement represents a significant social change with the potential to improve peoples lives. The simple fact is most people feel better physically and emotionally if they reduce or eliminate dairy and meat from their diets. The enthusiastic responses I’ve received while testing products has convinced me that it’s vital to be respectful of the vegan movement.”
Beginning now, Metro Pizza is serving up a vegan pizza at four of their locations (Green Valley, 1420 W. Horizon Ridge Pkwy; Northwest, 6720 Sky Pointe Dr.; East, 1395 E. Tropicana Ave.; and West, 4001 S. Decatur Dr.).
Launching the vegan options didn’t come without challenges to Arena and his team. Notoriously more pricey than dairy cheese, the vegan options were higher in price and it took a while to find one with quality matching the price tag. Arena landed on the Follow Your Heart blend after conducting taste tests with Olsen and his friend Vincent Rotolo of Good Pie, along with a small vegan test family.
“Because I operate multiple stores, it’s important to me that we start small and get everything right,” he explains. “We make a handcrafted product that becomes part of someone’s body. That’s a big responsibility. I want to be sure that we can honor our vegan guests and produce pizzas that would be enjoyed by any customer.”
Order up the Green Valley which comes loaded with zucchini, ‘shrooms, black olives, onions and cherry tomatoes) and add vegan cheese (it’s $2 extra for a small, $4 extra for large) or tweak the Modesto pizza by holding the sausage and simply enjoying the mushrooms, garlic, crushed tomatoes and basil. Guests can also mix and match and create their own pizza.
Other vegan options currently available at all Metro Pizza locations are the Pasta Luna, a rigatoni dish with crushed tomatoes, garlic, mushrooms, basil and olive oil, plus the dough used for the bread, pizza crust and garlic knots (so hold the cheese).
This is just the start to Metro Pizza’s new vegan program. Arena plans to take a “year or so” to develop and implement a vegan menu and join the growing ranks of the vegan dining scene in Las Vegas, one of the top 10 cities in the US for vegan dining.
“We have incredible young, creative chefs who are exploring the potential of high quality vegan options,” says Arena of the vegan options in Las Vegas. “My feeling is we are entering a new phase of dining where it will be easy to live a vegan lifestyle with no sacrifice of flavor, variety, or quality … I often order from the vegan menu at BBD’s [inside Palace Station] simply because I love the food. That is a testament to how far this category has evolved. I go to a place famous for meat dishes to order vegan. I think that illustrates the evolution, impact and importance of the category.”
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