Photo credit: Allison Vaughan
It’s eye-opening for a professed omnivore to visit the improbably named T.J. Scallywaggle’s, a 100-percent-vegan pizza and sub shop. Look past the vintage exterior sign of an old-school meat-and-dairy-slinging pizza pad and you’ll find a small, slightly shabby temple to consciousness-raising. There’s a veritable library of books and pamphlets promoting veganism, world peace, cruelty-free consumerism, and sustainable agriculture and fuels.
Earnest protest folk blares on the stereo; the walls feature live-show photos of old anarcho-punks like Reagan Youth. A tattooed accordionist practices on the bench out front. As one who regularly enjoys and praises grisly, cruel, planet-depredating animal consumption, I guiltily consider how difficult veganism would be for me, for selfish epicurean as well as professional reasons.
After noting with relief that I’m wearing canvas sneakers and have no bloodstains on my shirt from my Korean-barbecue lunch, I order a couple of pizzas, the “chicken” fajita and the T.J.’s white pizza ($10.99/small; $15.99/large). Lovingly hand-assembled and taking about 25 minutes from order to plate, the small pizzas are approximately 10 inches across with an obviously hand-formed crust. The white pizza is tomato-free, featuring a thin garlic/oil purée freely poured under toppings of green peppers, broccoli, and spinach. The crust is thin, crisp, bubble-free, and not especially chewy.
The fajita pizza has a sauce of crushed tomatoes and toppings of sliced pickled banana peppers, green peppers, onions, and a soy-based product described as “chikhin” on the Web site but just plain “chicken” on the menu. On this pizza, with the surrounding flavors, this chicken is a rather convincing meat substitute. I guess some vegans must still hanker for the sensation of eating meat even after they’ve forsaken it for moral, ecological, health, and/or religious reasons.
I easily polish off a small pizza by myself with a bottle of exceptional Boylan’s Cream Soda ($1.99). It really is very good pizza in its homey way, a bit better than what I can achieve at home with my food processor, whole-wheat flour, instant yeast, and pizza stone. More to the point, Scallywaggle’s fills what must otherwise be a big void in the typical vegan’s life: a casual restaurant where you and your friends can enjoy a cheapish and sort-of-junky meal, the way non-vegans do on every other city block. That seems like one small but righteous step in the direction of winning more converts to the cause.
T.J. Scallywaggle’s, located at 487 Cambridge Street, in Allston, is open on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, from noon to 11 pm; on Tuesday, from 3 to 11 pm; and on Friday and Saturday, from noon to midnight. Call 617.787.9884.