Columbus Underground:

Drive Thru: Portia’s Pizza

Whole World Natural Restaurant’s pizza was a Clintonville institution. Founded in 1978, it was vegetarian before vegetarian was cool. After a long run, it closed its doors in 2017. 

While endings are always a little sad, good news was just around the corner. Portia’s Cafe announced intentions to expand a diner operation in the vacated space. Like Whole World, Portia’s is known for its meat-free fare. In fact, it runs a vegan kitchen, so its recipes use no eggs or dairy as well. And Portia’s Diner made its debut right at the end of 2019. 

Normally, a debut like this might call for a full-scale review, but in the age of COVID-19, carryout is king. And the diner is now offering the most classic carry-out food of all: Pizza. 

We’re right back where we started. 

Portia’s pizza (let’s take a moment to appreciate the alliteration) can be ordered with a variety of toppings. You can go classic with just (non-dairy) cheese, or build a bigger masterpiece with meat substitutes and veggies. And because Portia’s has long-been crafting its own meat substitutes in-house, those deluxe versions are worth exploration. 

Consider the Sawsage Veggie: red peppers, mushrooms, onions, black olives, non-dairy cheese, and house-made, animal-free sausage. It’s built on a thin crust that combines initial crispness with a little chewy depth. There’s good veggie coverage, but the pressing question is this: what about that cheese and sausage? Cheese-wise, it’s good. It’s stretchy and soft, so you won’t notice much difference. The sausage has a softer texture than meat (more bean-y, perhaps), but it hits the savory spot.

How well does it hit the spot?  Well, two traditional meat-eating teenagers scarfed down the pie with high praises and zero complaints. 

The pizza is available Thursdays through Sundays only. For those who are contagion-conscious, pull up front at 3269 N. High St., and they will happily chuck it through the window of your car. You can view your order options here.

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