Friday, November 23, 2012

Vegan pizza at Astor Mediterranean

Astor Mediterranean has been on my radar because it tops VegDC's alphabetical list of places that serve vegan cheese pizza. Located at 1829 Columbia Road NW in Adams Morgan, this restaurant is more of a take-out spot than a place to wine and dine. In fact, although beer and wine are listed on the menu, they don't serve alcohol. For that you need to travel to their sister restaurant in remote Arlington (not Metro-handy).

However, this Astor location does serve food. The dining area is small with oppressive fluorescent lighting. You order at the counter, above which hangs a menu with the prices blackened out. (There are paper menus available that list prices and handy icons denoting vegan and vegetarian items.) A small, cheery sign also advertises the vegan Teese pizza. We ordered a large Teese veggie pie, plus a beet salad and fava bean dip.
The pizza (above) was the winner, although very heavy on the fake cheese. This soy-based "cheese" appeared to be crumbled on top only, but further investigation revealed a solid Teese core in the middle of the pie. The pizza's crust was speckled with anise seeds, a surprisingly refreshing detail. The red sauce and veggies were also tasty. The toppings included: spinach, eggplant, tomatoes, green peppers, mushrooms, and olives.
The beet salad was oily but flavorful with rather hard beet cubes in a vinegar marinade. The fava bean dip was spicy and rich; a nice alternative to hummus. And it came with vegan pita bread, which can be hard to find at other area Mediterranean spots.

We did have to wait awhile for our food, as everyone else was getting speedy to-go orders. When the food did arrive, it came all at once. We had to ask for plates and there was a severe condiment shortage. While we ate, the counter staff played a mix of fun Bollywood tunes and bad 80's rock. I plan to revisit Astor someday for lunch, when the outdoor seating area is open, to see how the pizza tastes alfresco.

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