I stumbled across this little vegan’s gem right in my own neighbourhood by accident – We were at my parent’s home for an extended family afternoon get-together that rode into the evening. The kids were getting hungry and pizza is always the easiest option for everyone’s taste in my family…except me. Godzilla Pizza is literally around the corner from my parent’s home so I wandered over there expecting to pick out a few meat and vegetarian pizzas for my family and a minimum chips for me.
What greeted me in the menu was beyond anything I’ve seen before in a take-away store. Every single pizza on the menu could be veganised. I am familiar with faux meats (although I had never tasted them before as it just seemed off) and I had tried a few vegan cheeses, but I had never in my life been to a pizza shop that actually offered these alternatives to their customers. What was meant to be a quick 2 minute order turned into an extended study of the menu. For the first time ever I was spoilt for choice!
When I told Rory, the co-owner, my reservations about mock meat he cheerfully offered me a taster of all different kinds. The pepperoni particularly appealed to my spicy side and so I ordered my first vegan hot n’ spicy pizza, called the “Zeke”, with extra jalapeños.
Rory also informed me while preparing the pizzas that they also sell a trove of vegan desserts. Now I was in trouble; he pulled out a variety of ice-creams, slices, brownies, chocolate bars and cakes, made for Godzilla by another local small business called Cherry Darlings Bakehouse (formerly known as Veganised). I settled on the mint chocolate chip ice cream, which is still my favourite.
Because they don’t compete by price or by extensive advertising, from the exterior Godzilla looks like just another pizza joint. But unlike most pizza joints, Godzilla are as interesting as their pizzas are delicious.
Rory took over Godzilla Pizza in 2012 with his business partner and uni mate, Tyler, who had already been working there for the previously owners. They were both studying commerce at the time and they joked that their accounting assignments were always based running a pizza joint, so why not do it? They both liked the idea of being able to cater to everyone’s dietary needs and their customers also include those with lactose and gluten intolerance. Some regulars come as far as Holden Hill and he tells me he often will see customers hop off the bus in front of the store, order a pizza, then eat it at the stop while waiting for the return bus home.
Rory has since finished his degree in commerce, but has not been eager to leave Godzilla for a 9-5 job in accounting. Although the hours and effort put into running the small business with Tyler may not be as good, he is a creative type and just chatting with him you can see his passion is pizza. The weird and wonderful concoctions on the menu, and their special “Pizza of the month” is testament to this creativity. Rory likes trying new ideas and new flavours but for every pizza that made it to the menu there are hundreds of experimental pizza flops. The “Thai satay pizza” took months of researching and a cooking trip to Thailand for him to come up with the appropriate home-made satay sauce. The current “Hanhdorf hotdog pizza” followed a similarly long path to find the best vegan hot-dog. You see, pizzas are only considered good enough to make it to the menu if they can be made vegan and taste just as good. The top photo is the next “Pizza of the month”, a vegan version of “Peri peri chicken pizza”, which looks pretty enticing as I’m sure you’ll agree.
Rory does admit, however, that the secret to making a good vegan pizza “is not so much the mock meat or cheese, it’s the effort that goes into the dough to make it light and fluffy, the spices in the sauce and the freshness of the veggies” (which are all locally sourced). He toys with the idea of being able to prepare his own range of mock meats, which are currently bought expensively from Redwood’s in the UK, as a means to reduce costs and bring more fairness to his vegan customers.
You can buy different styles of these imported Cheezly cheeses and Cheatin’ meats from Godzilla’s refrigerator to take home for your own pizza creation. They are all competitively priced compared to the supermarkets, which aligns with Rory’s desire to offer inexpensive food to vegans.
His eyes sparkle when asked what he loves the most about his product and his service. “The vegans are without a doubt the most grateful customers, and I still love delivering pizzas because everyone is always happy when the pizza arrives”. “I went to an accounting expo in February and everyone there looked so bored and unhappy, I stopped applying for accounting jobs right then and there”.