Blackbird Pizzeria Review

Two weekends ago, Philadelphia unveiled its latest vegan and vegetarian paradise, drawing a crowd of ecstatic vegheads more than ready to chow down on a few slices of vegan, yes vegan, pizza.

On September 30th, Blackbird Pizzeria opened its doors, offering an all-vegan menu of various pizza and sandwich combinations.  Located on 507 South Sixth Street, the new pizzeria has taken over Gianna’s old space, keeping in line with the place’s original relaxed, low-priced pizza-style vibe.

Mark Mebus, previously a chef at Philly’s renowned vegan restaurant, Horizons, in addition to working at several other vegan joints in New York, launched the new Philly pizzeria along with partner Ryan Moylan.

“I really liked messing around with dough and enjoyed making pizza a lot, so I figured I should open a pizzeria,” said Mebus.  “I wanted to own my own business, and I knew if I was doing my own business I wanted to do something a little more casual and a little more of a pedestrian-friendly situation.”

Pedestrian-friendly is just what Blackbird Pizzeria is.  With blank, off-white walls, ten or so scattered two and four-person tables, and nothing but the voices of a bunch of young adults and maybe a family or two filling the narrow dining room space, the causal atmosphere reflects that of a typical pizza joint.

The menu is unpretentious as well, offering all the basics you’d expect from a pizzeria, minus the fact that vegan ingredients replace standard meat options.  Typical mozzarella is replaced with Daiya “cheese,” which unlike most vegan cheeses, isn’t sourced from soy.  Instead, Daiya is created from a mix of tapioca, casaba, and arrowroot flour, along with a few other ingredients, that are thrown together and given time to culture.

“To tell you the truth, I don’t personally care for soy cheese at all,” said Mebus, a vegan of 12 years.  “At every other place that I worked, we really tried to shy away from using soy cheese all together because it really doesn’t taste all that good. I like that [Daiya is] not soy based.  I know a lot of people have problems with soy, and this is much more allergy–friendly.”

The Daiya “cheese” is creamier than traditional melted mozzarella, almost resembling an alfredo sauce.  Unlike many vegan cheeses, Daiya has no repulsive soy aftertaste, but instead a adds a delightful element of creamy richness.

Even more impressive than the cheese-less “cheese” topping Blackbird’s pizzas is the crust, exceptionally light and airy with the perfect amount of crisp.  Atop the dough, Mebus adds a flavorful, slightly salty tomato sauce, sourced from all organic tomatoes.

Pizza toppings include the traditional green peppers, onions, mushrooms and jalapenos along with some more creative ingredients like seitan sausage or pepperoni, fennel, avocado, and artichokes.

Mebus’s favorite slice is the Yukon, topped with Yukon Gold potatoes, rosemary, sea salt, and a touch of olive oil.

Also on the menu are a handful of sandwich options, including the BBQ Portabella and Seitan Cheesesteak.  The BBQ Portobello has some resemblance of a buffalo chicken hoagie, containing chewy deep-fried portobello infused with spicy ground black pepper and tossed with a light layer of BBQ sauce, atop a layer of cole slaw resting on a slightly chew roll.

Blackbird’s version of the cheesesteak is dead on, providing a haven for any newly-turned vegan or vegetarian craving the favorite greasy Philly classic.  Exceptionally thinly sliced seitan is smothered with creamy “cheese,” and paired with fried onions, sautéed mushrooms and green bell peppers that spill out of the roll.

Pair your sandwich with a basket of hand cut fries, or save room for a slice of one of the various vegan cakes.  Choose from a selection of Virgil’s sodas to clench your thirst, with flavors that include vanilla, black cherry, lemon grass, and lavender.

Whether vegan or not, Blackbird offers a sturdy menu that will leave your tastebuds satisfied and stomach full.  Prices are relatively cheap as well, with three bucks per slice of pizza or $15 for a whole pie.  Sandwiches are reasonably priced between $7 to $8.  Make sure to come with cash though, as credit cards are not yet accepted

Pop into Blackbird Pizzeria anytime from 3 to 10 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday, and watch Mebus spin some dough as you choose from the tasty selections on the blackboard lining the kitchen’s back wall.


BBQ Portobello




Seitan Cheesesteak


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No Comments

  • Reply
    Kelly Phillips
    October 10, 2010 at 8:05 am

    Okay, now I want that seitan cheesesteak for breakfast. Bonus that there are actual veggies in it. I hope they start delivery soon…

  • Reply
    October 10, 2010 at 8:34 am

    Very impressive- I wouldn’t have guessed that these dishes were vegan just by looking at them. Looks like good old comfort food alright!

  • Reply
    October 10, 2010 at 9:48 am

    Goodlord Blackbird is dangerous. I hate there twice this weekend! The yukon gold is so good.

  • Reply
    Steven Rice Fitness
    October 10, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Do they deliver to Palo Alto?

  • Reply
    October 10, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    Must get there soon. It all looks 100 times better than Gianna’s.

  • Reply
    Angela (the diet book junkie)
    October 10, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    i’m not kiddng you, this would be my idea of heaven. i LOVE pizza, but i don’t eat cheese. the yukon potato pizza would’ve been my choice as well 🙂

  • Reply
    Lisa Pool
    October 11, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Maybe I missed it; is the pizza pie crust wheat/gluten free? The main reason I’ve vegan and almost entirely raw with my diet is food allergies to wheat, gluten and dairy. My family owns Pizzeria Bianco and Pane Bianco and even they haven’t yet brought on a wheat/gluten free option because it just taste awful (breads, cakes, dough).

    Photos of the food look amazing though, the next time I’m in Philly I will definitely make a point of trying Blackbird.

  • Reply
    October 11, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    Wow! What a great option for vegans! I love seeing new places that keep up with health trends and healthy living! And like someone else said, it all looks too good to be vegan! As good as it can be, most vegan food doesn’t look that appealing!

  • Reply
    Diy Funny Life
    October 12, 2010 at 2:01 am

    […] Blackbird Pizzeria Review « Food-Fitness-FreshAir […]

  • Reply
    Jenna@ Healthy. Happy. Well.
    October 12, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    A vegan pizzeria, are you kidding me??? that’s fantastic! All we have here is pizza fusion, though it is fantastic it would be awesome to have some other options. ps— you won my giveaway! email me your info please!

  • Reply
    Blackbird Pizzeria Q and A « Food-Fitness-FreshAir
    January 30, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    […] Blackbird Pizzeria, an all vegan pizza and sandwich shop, just opened its doors two weekends ago at 507 South Sixth Street.  Serving up slices topped with Daiya “cheese” and meatless seitan cheesesteaks, the place has drawn a steady flow of hungry customers over the last couple weeks. […]

  • Reply
    weight conscious persons
    July 29, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    I like your website.Its very informative.Keep it up.

  • Reply
    Tempeh Bacon Sandwich | Food-Fitness-FreshAir
    March 22, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    […] of changing the minds of those that lament vegetarian food. One of Philadelphia’s newest, Blackbird Pizzeria, also does a mighty fine job at creating vegan comfort food, enabling those who would normally turn […]

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