A few weeks ago, the former Champs Junior spot on Manhattan Avenue (between Nassau and Driggs) turned into Screamers Pizzeria, a vegan pizzeria. Screamers is owned by Brad Baker, the man behind Champs Diner and Haymaker’s Corner Store, in a joint venture with chefs Mark Mebus and Ryan Moylan of Philly’s Blackbird Pizzeria. Blackbird is apparently some of the best vegan pizza available in the country, so this is a pretty big deal in the vegan world. I stopped by to see what it’s all about and get my first taste of a true vegan-with-cheese pizza.
First of, the joint is a bit smaller than most of our pizzerias. There is very limited seating, and only a few pies-by-slice available at the time. On the mirrored wall is the true pizza menu, with many pies seeming like something I’d order at a regular pizza place. “Screamers” is apparently a term for the sound canned mushrooms make when they hit a hot grill, and therefore, is the name of their mushroom pizza. Others include a Hawaiian with vegan ham and pineapple; the “Clean Side” which has pesto, broccoli rabe, and seitan sausage; and the “Supreme” with seitan pepperoni, seitan sausage, peppers, and onion. Besides pizza, they also have garlic knots and a giant calzone on offer.
I went with a slice of the regular cheese, a “Screamers” slice, plus an order of garlic knots. For cheese, they use a few different kinds. Currently, the regular cheese is made from tapioca, pea protein, and coconut oil, whereas the other cheeses they use are made in-house with almond milk. The main giveaway that the regular slice isn’t from your traditional pizza place is that the cheeses use on top are different colors, and there’s not nearly as much of that cheese. But I didn’t find myself minding that one bit. The cheese tastes like it should with a good amount of meltiness to boot, though be sure to ask them to really warm up the slice. The crust was the right amount of thickness, and the tomato sauce was sweet and rich.
What’s more, I like the “Screamers” slice better than most regular mushroom slices since they don’t use canned mushrooms. The knots will have lovers and haters. They aren’t sitting in a pool of olive oil and completely covered in minced garlic, the way I prefer my knots, but I know some prefer a much “cleaner” knot than I do. The one thing that will have you running around the corner to Prince’s is the price. Screamers is more expensive with slices being about $4, but you are paying for high-quality vegan cheese and toppings.
Screamers Pizzeria is located at 620 Manhattan Avenue (between Nassau and Driggs). It’s open 7 days a week from 11am to midnight. You can follow their special flavors and other offers on Instagram @screamerspizzeria.