Popular Newtown pizzeria, Gigi, has made the bold move of launching an entirely plant-based food offering, with the classic magherita and all things mozzarella officially off the menu.

Launching on 23 September, the menu is the result of owner Marco Matino’s growing concern about the health and sustainability of the food he’s offering.

“We want to cook with the best ingredients we can, and we became very conscious of the ingredients we were using and their health and environmental impacts,” Matino told Hospitality. “We decided to reduce our carbon footprint by not buying animal products.”

Menu items now include the funghi e radicchio, which comprises swiss brown mushrooms, garlic, dairy free blue cheese, parsley, radicchio, roasted walnuts and extra virgin olive oil; as well as the cavolo, which is topped with cauliflower puree, artichokes, pinenuts, capers, currants, garlic, rosemary, black truffle pate and extra virgin olive oil.

The pizzeria is one of 14 venues in Australia to be certified as offering authentic Neapolitan pizza by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, which aims to preserve the traditional preparation of Neapolitan pizza styles by scrutinising such things as the pizza oven, pizza dough ingredients, how the toppings are applied and how the pizzaiolo prepares the dough. 

The AVPN recognises only two pizzas as authentically Napoletana: marinara (tomato, oil, oregano, and garlic) and margherita (tomato, oil, mozzarella or fior di latte, basil), and while the latter is no longer on offer at Gigi, the pizzeria is maintaining its certification by putting the spotlight on the marinara.

"For 40 years, until the margarita came along 1889, the marinara was the only pizza being sold in Naples. A lot of people have argued that it's not traditional to take mozzarella off pizza, but actually, the most traditional pizza you can order doesn't have any meat or cheese on it,” Matino told SMH.

Matino said he’s expecting to receive some “flak” from disgruntled diners, but says most will understand and appreciate the reasoning behind his decision. He said not enough diners are ordering traditional Italian pizzas, so by removing a lot of the popular, but less traditional options, he hopes to promote the marinara and the simplicity of authentic Italian pizzas.

“The base is where we put our knowledge and our skills, the other ingredients just complement it,” he said.

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