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Photo: Kirstie O'Mahony @The Mancunion

Review: PLY – vegetarian special

Wood fired pizza seems to be all the rage at the moment. Long gone are the days when a Dominoes would suffice — now it needs to be authentically Neapolitan, hand stretched and made on an open flame for it to satisfy the Northern Quarter millenial mob.

Places like Rudy’s have done this very classically, with simple flavours, all of which pair excellently with a Negroni. However, PLY gives the traditional a modern twist, and it’s this difference that keeps the two in equally high esteem; they provide different versions of something immensely popular.

The team behind the very successful Kosmonaut opened PLY in 2015, and it was an immediate hit. The bases were made out of that 2017-18 buzzword, sourdough, and the variety of toppings combined with the trendy yet comfortable setting were destined to make this a northern Quarter staple.

But there’s always a fear when you go for a pizza as a vegetarian — am I only going to be able to get a margarita? In most places,  the answer is inevitably yes, unless you get something with an egg slap bang in the middle.

Photo: Kirstie O'Mahony @The Mancunion

The homemade raspberry seltzer is a must try, especially at £2 — Photo: Kirstie O’Mahony @The Mancunion

Not at PLY, though.  They now have a dedicated menu for veggie and vegan pizzas (starting from £8) that ranges from pear and blue cheese, to chorizo and butternut squash, with a whole load of other sumptuous options in between.

The pizzas on this menu are actually all vegan. This is because they use a rice-based mozzarella substitute called Mozzarisella which is made from whole Italian brown rice. It also comes in a Blue form, as well as Smoked and a Ricotta. The idea is to create an ethical and environmentally friendly alternative to diary.

They also have some really delicious side plates, that can be ordered as supplements to your meal or as starters if you’d prefer. I opted for the Fennel & Orange Salad (£4.5) and the Beetroot Carpaccio (£4).

Photo: Kirstie O'Mahony @The Mancunion

Photo: Kirstie O’Mahony @The Mancunion

The salad was such a refreshing start to the meal. It was light, sweet and tart and, to be perfectly honest, I could have had about three plates of it. The beetroot carpaccio was really interesting; the thinly sliced, raw beetroot had a lovely crunch, and the earthy flavours of the root vegetable and the accompanying walnuts was married perfectly with a sweet zing from the balsamic glaze.

Photo: Kirstie O'Mahony @The Mancunion

Photo: Kirstie O’Mahony @The Mancunion

Then, on to the pizza. Oh my, what a pizza. I opted for the pear and blue cheese, and it was incredible. The base had a good amount of char on the crust, which inside was fluffy, salty, and delicious. The topping itself was a very comforting arrangement of flavours, with a perfect balance of sweet and savoury. I’m not usually one for white pizzas myself, but this one in particular won me over.

Photo: Kirstie O'Mahony @The Mancunion

Photo: Kirstie O’Mahony @The Mancunion

I couldn’t leave without at least trying one of the desserts, even though I was fit to burst. I chose the vegan chocolate cake and let me tell you, this knocked every chocolate cake I’ve ever had, vegan or non, straight out of the water. It was divine — soft, gooey, and incredibly rich. I would go back just to have another slice.

Overall, it was hard not to be incredibly impressed. But then, PLY has been so successful since opening its doors, I really shouldn’t have been surprised.

Tags: Manchester, Northern Quarter, pizza, PLY, vegan, vegetarian

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