Smile Politely

New pizza place puts the M in mmm

Pizza M has opened its doors in downtown Urbana and we’re pretty happy campers. As part of Cafeteria and Co., Pizza M functions as a hot spot cafe/pizza shop, complete with wine and beer. While there are many who come for the pour overs and free wi-fi, plenty of others are drawn in by the promise of fresh, hand-crafted pizza.

Though bigger cities abound with vegan pizza shops or at least pizza places offering vegan options, we’ve generally come up short when it comes to Champaign-Urbana. We love Common Ground Food Co-Op’s pizzas and their unique options, like my favorite, the Seitan Reuben pizza. They even offer gluten-free crusts. Their pizzas are a bit small though, personal pan size really. Plus, while you can eat there, it lacks that pizza joint vibe. That’s why Pizza M is a nice option for when you want to go out with your omnivore pals and get something everyone can enjoy.

Pizza M does not currently offer vegan cheese. We really hope they will soon. For now we’ve been bringing our own bag of Daiya mozzarella and asking them to swap it for the dairy cheese. The staff at Pizza M is always perfectly receptive to the idea of using customer-brought vegan cheese. Jeremiah even spoke with owner, Matt Kitzmiller, to inquire about them offering it as a regular menu choice and gave him wholesale information on how to order it for the business. They do not charge extra for this convenience but since Daiya retails at almost $6 per bag, Pizza M could knock off a couple bucks from their pizza price. After all, they are really saving by not having to use their own cheese at this point.

We’ve eaten both at Pizza M, as well as done take-out. Jeremiah preferred eating there as Cafeteria and Co. has a pleasant atmosphere, plus you can order a beer or even a mocha if you prefer. We like ordering the vegetarian Kitchen Sink, which is a surprise, since they’ll top it with whatever fresh veggies they have—it’s different each time. We are partial to onion, green pepper, and mushroom. We appreciate how the peppers are cut into big chunks, rather than diced finely. Other veggie options include olives, spinach, artichoke, garlic, tomato, and basil.

Pizza M’s sauce is smooth, rich, and spiced well. A great pizza needs fresh, quality toppings, firm, but not crunchy crust, and enough sauce to keep you from feeling like you’re just eating cheesy bread. Pizza M’s crust is good, but it is typically overdone, and my friends and I never seem to want to finish it because it is too hard and too cumbersome to crunch on after a while. The toppings are extremely fresh and great, but, at least where veggies are concerned, it leaves you wanting more of them, which would prevent me from ordering a pizza sans any cheese at all. For instance, if you’ve ever ordered a take & bake veggie pizza from Papa Murphy’s, you’re used to a lot of toppings. They’re also fresh but they’re not packed with the flavor you’ll find in Pizza M’s toppings (which are locally sourced where possible). If only there could be a happy medium.

As a vegan, it’s easy to get excited about any restaurant that has a viable vegan option in Champaign-Urbana. But C-U is still a long way from truly tantalizing vegans with options. It’s great that Pizza M has been accommodating and taken a step to fill part of this void, they could, however, raise the bar by adding vegan cheese and a faux meat or two to the menu. Impress us, C-U. 

Pizza M is located at 208 West Main Street, Urbana. They’re open Monday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

All photos by Jeremiah Stanley. 

Related Articles