Meatless Madison: Sal’s Vegan Supreme

Patrick DePula offers vegan and vegetarian pies

Let’s talk about pizza, shall we? Pizza is cheesy, savory, delicious and reliable. Pizza is there for you at dinner time, in the middle of night or even in the morning eaten cold out of the fridge. Pizza is a lot of things, but it usually isn’t vegan.

Enter Patrick DePula, owner of Salavatore’s Tomato Pies, who didn’t want vegans to be left out in the cold. “It’s a fun challenge to be a pizzeria and make vegan and vegetarian pizzas that are just as good as our other pizzas,” DePula says. Sal’s vegan supreme pizza is made with house-made vegan Italian “sausage,” Teese “cheese,” red sauce, banana peppers, black olives, yellow onions, mushrooms, green pepper and basil. It’s available at both Sal’s location on East Johnson Street in Madison and East Main Street in Sun Prairie.

When DePula set out to create a specialty vegan pizza for Sal’s menu, he didn’t want to replace the cheese just with more vegetables. “I wanted to make a standard supreme pizza that hits all the notes,” DePula says. His first task was to create a vegan Italian sausage. After some experimentation, he developed a recipe that he loves (and wants to keep a secret). The base for Sal’s vegan sausage is made with Impossible burger, a plant-based meat substitute that closely resembles ground beef. Next DePula spices the Impossible burger “like we would sausage,” DePula says. “We use olive oil and, well, let’s just say spices. I dig it because it browns like sausage. If you were to eat it and not know that it’s vegan, you would never be able to tell.”

Along with Sal’s signature sauce, DePula also tops the pizza with Teese mozzarella cheese, which he gets from Chicago. The cheese melts and stretches — just like a dairy-based mozzarella — making it perfect for pizza. With tang from bananas peppers and saltiness from olives, the vegan supreme is a delicious alternative to a traditional ‘za.

In addition to the vegan supreme, Sal’s also has specialty vegetarian pizzas on the menu including the vegetarian, made with a roasted beet pesto that was the inspiration for the whole pie. The vegetarian is topped with charred kale and goat cheese and started as a special, but “people liked it so much it stuck around,” DePula says. “We can also create a vegan or vegetarian pizza for you. People are more than welcome to ask,” DePula says. “I’m a chef and I eat meat, but I think we should use less of it. Big ag[riculture] is terrible for the environment and to be good global citizens we should endeavor to use higher quality ingredients and less meat.”