Sunday July the 10th my hubby totally surprised me with a trip to Gourmet Pizza Company in Hyde Park.  First of all I LOVE Hyde Park!  It’s so cute and quaint and beautiful!  We had just come from a double feature at the movies, and saw Horrible Bosses (which is absolutely hysterical) last.  For some reason, watching that movie made me really hungry for pizza and beer.  And ironically, that was my husband’s plan all along.  I was really excited to see that they had a pretty good selection of vegan pizza.  The primary reason I was super excited to be there was because we’d purchased a Groupon ages ago, or what seemed like it, since they were the only local pizzeria that offered Daiya cheese.  Why more places do not is beyond me, however, I was thrilled to be there.

The décor upon walking in was really simple, so simple that they ripped up what appeared to be crappy tile and ventured for the concrete floor look.  They had really expensive local art for sale on the walls, and did not offer wait staff.  I thought that was a brilliant move, for being a small place, you simply find a table, go to the register to place your order and they have someone run the food out to the table.  Great cost saving strategy for a small place and with the top shelf level of service that we got anyway, I would say it was the right decision.  After taking in the really cool atmosphere, which by the way, any vegan establishment I have ever been to with really amazing and cool décor always ends up having killer food.

I was pretty much starving, since my hubby didn’t tell me it would be nearly 7pm before we ate dinner.  I was eyeing up all the yummy food on the menu and decided that we HAD to try the Vegan Pizza Breadsticks with Daiya cheese.  The description read “Topped with garlic infused olive oil, then sprinkled with our own herb mixture. served with a side of our homemade marinara sauce for dipping.” That sounded to die for.  We also decided on the Mediterranean Vegan Pizza without olives, since I am not a fan, and with Daiya cheese of course!  The breadsticks came out fairly quickly, and since I really wanted a beer I chose from their pretty good selection of beers and got an Amstel Light to start off.  Boy were those breadsticks awesome.  Now I am a fan of Papa John’s doughy breadsticks, as I feel like if you’re going to do a carb coma night, you might as well go all the way!  But I have never ever found a marinara dipping sauce that I liked.  Gourmet Pizza Co. offers simply THE best home made marinara dip.  First off, it is not thick and goopy like most marinara sauces, it was really light, fresh and I could taste the fresh tomato and garlic in it.  Oh man was it incredible.  My taste buds were soaring and loving the garlicy cheesiness!  I originally wanted to save half of the garlic breadsticks, but my hubby and I were in heaven so we splurged and ate them all.

My Amstel Light paired well with the food thus far, but I decided that I had to go for my girl and get a Stella Artois, my absolute favorite beer, with the pizza.  When the pizza came out first thing I noticed was WOW the pizza was totally NOT greasy.  Now any good old family pizzeria I had ever been to really did a killer job with the pizza but always ended up with a nice layer of grease that would lie atop of the pie.  Not so for this pizza.  Instead, the top of the pie had spinach, basil, fresh diced tomatoes, and banana peppers and no grease to be seen!  The pizza is described in the menu as “garlic oil based pizza topped with fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, capers, fresh leaf spinach, our house cheese blend, banana peppers, black olives and feta cheese, finished with diced tomatoes.”  Now of course the pizza did not have feta cheese on it, as it was vegan, but it was loaded up with Daiya Mozzarella. My first bite was as close to pizza heaven as I have ever experienced.  Now, besides this vegan pizza my favorite is Amy’s Frozen Roasted Vegetable Pizza, without cheese, but we usually add Daiya.  The Mediterranean pizza was crispy with a nice thick crust.  The first thing that impressed my socks off was the fact that the diced tomatoes were abundantly flavorful.  Now I had just been food shopping yesterday, Saturday the 9th, and was barely able to find edible tomatoes.  So having really flavorful tomatoes on my pizza made me really really happy.  The next thing that made my mouth continue to water was the garlic oil base over the dough, man did those little bits of fresh garlic hit the palate right!  I am a huge garlic lover, so I couldn’t get enough!  Then every couple of bites you’d get surprised by a hidden caper beneath a layer of veggies and Daiya.  My second favorite thing about pizza is the crust.  And I am a bit of a fiend for a good crust.  Theirs was crunchy without being dry, the perfect crust, cooked ideally.  Oh man was this pizza amazing.  I truly can’t say enough good about Gourmet Pizza Company.  The staff was friendly, the food arrived fairly quickly, it was fresh, flavorful and super super good, and it was a great environment!  If reading this and seeing those photos of the food doesn’t make you want to go and get your pizza on, then I don’t know what else will.  I highly recommend it to any vegan in the Tampa Bay Area looking for a great pizza with fresh flavor.  They also served vegan cookies, but after the breadsticks and pizza I couldn’t fit anything else in!  I left happily carb coma’d out!  Thank you Gourmet Pizza Company for an awesome meal and a great experience.  You can BET I will be back as this is my new favorite pizza joint!