Like a lot of folks, Marc Kubushefski took up a hobby over the pandemic.
With no culinary training or education, he turned to the cheap and easy way to learn just about anything: YouTube. He watched videos on how to make pizza – from the crust to the toppings.
Fast forward to today where Kubushefski’s hobby has become a full-time business with his twin brother, Joey. The two recently opened Paranormal Pizza, the Lehigh Valley’s only vegan pizza shop, in downtown Bethlehem.
“We want people to know it’s really good pizza that just happens to be vegan,” said Marc Kubushefski.
Through YouTube, he learned the basics of making pizza dough, the foundation of any good pie. He perfected the art of making a vegan sourdough crust. Then he learned how to make a non-dairy cheese from cashews. Then, he crafted a red sauce.
After mastering those building blocks of pizza, the brothers worked on creating plant-based toppings that mimicked what you’d find on a traditional pizza. They learned how to make their own pepperoni and bacon using seitan – which is made from gluten, the main protein of wheat.
While he was understanding how to make the pizzas, Marc Kubushefski began posting photos on Instagram and it caught the attention of hungry friends and followers. He launched “The Plant-Based Pizza Company,” where he would sell his pizzas frozen. That was so successful he knew he could go to the next level.
They opened Paranomal Pizza in late March on North New Street. When you step inside, the first thing you notice is the out-of-this-world decor. The brothers are huge fans of the hit ’90s show “The X-Files” so you’ll see aliens, TV stills and more as you look around the restaurant.
The menu features a host of pies all named after characters on “The X-Files” or references to the show. And these are no ordinary pies:
- Scully: Red sauce, cashew mozzarella, seitan pepperoni and hot agave
- Smoking Man: Garlic knot crust, red sauce, cashew mozzarella
- The Skinner: Red sauce, cashew mozzarella, hot Beyond sausage, green pepper and onion.
They offer gluten-free options as well.
What we tried: We opted to try the weekly special, which was the chicken bacon ranch. No one in the Sheehan house is vegan, but my youngest daughter is vegetarian. That said, this pizza was truly delicious and even my skeptical husband ate two slices.
The crust: This pizza had an excellent crust with a lovely sourdough flavor. The texture was 10 out of 10 – crispy and just thick enough to support the blanket of toppings without being too bready.
The cheese: The pizza we had featured a nice amount of cheese without going overboard. Non-dairy cheese has a different texture and if you have too much of it, it can have a rubbery mouth-feel. The amount of cheese they use is just enough to get the flavor right.
The toppings: Two words: So good. If you didn’t know you were eating a vegan pizza, you would think that the bacon and chicken were traditional meats. The bacon in particular was really salty and crispy, just how you want bacon on your pizza to be. The ranch was creamy and tangy and drizzled over the top. The plant-based chicken, mixed with all the amazing toppings, had the flavor of traditional chicken.
Overall: The balance of all the toppings was perfect and it honestly is a pizza I would go back and have again, despite not being vegan.
Along with the pizza, the brothers also offer fiery Buffalo “wings” and garlic knots.
Where: Paranormal Pizza, 554 N New St., Bethlehem
When: 4 to 9 pm Wednesday through Friday; noon is 8 pm Saturday
Info: 484-357-8727, paranormalpizzaco.com
Morning Call features reporter Jennifer Sheehan can be reached at 610-820-6628 or firstname.lastname@example.org.