If there’s one thing I love in life it’s Pizza! Sadly, as a vegan, my options for good pizza are few and far between and most eateries that claim to be vegan friendly just aren’t tasty. The amount of times I’ve ordered and paid for what turned out to be a lack lustre salad is just ridiculous. My palate is crying out for something more and I’m going to find it!
Over the next year, once a week (or more; we eat out a lot) I am going to try vegan, “vegan friendly” and non vegan venues to rate the food. How am I going to rate them you ask? Another great love of mine is podcasts and of late I’ve been listening to Freakonomics Radio and was inspired by The Cheeseburger Diet episode in which a Louisville woman ranks the best cheeseburgers is Louisville over a year with a specific rating system. I see a lot of these types of rankings for vegan food but they’re often written by non-vegans so I wanted to get the inside scoop for the other vegans out there. Based on Emily O’Mara’s rating system I will be scoring based on the following:
Up to 50 points for taste of the food
Up to 20 points for value for money
Up to 20 points for the service
Up to 10 points for the ambience
As an aside, if you’re in a rush the Sydney Vegan Club has a great list of vegan friendly eateries in Sydney.
Gigi Pizzeria – 78/100 Points
My first stop is Gigi Pizzeria in Newtown which is somewhere I’d been meaning to try since it went entirely plant-based in September 2015. Based in Newtown just south of the train station this pizza place is ace!
What’s vegan on the menu?
What we ordered:
Arancini ai Funghi Porcini, Funghi e Radicchio Pizza and Calzone con Cavolo
Taste = 37/50
Gigi has received a lot of hype since it went vegan and it did not disappoint. The Funghi e Radicchio Pizza immediately stood out to me as it boasts dairy free blue cheese. Blue cheese was a favourite of mine before I went vegan but I have to say, the flavour was almost non-existent on this pizza though it was still lovely tasting. This let me down a little as I was really looking forward to a Roquefort style pang.
We absolutely couldn’t go past the Arancini ai Funghi Porcini and they did not disappoint. Again, I haven’t had an arancini for years because they’re typically full of meat and cheese but I was definitely impressed, as were my 3 non vegan compatriots. They’re cheesy, gooey and light, and are the small canapé type rather than the large Bolognese style which would suffice as a meal.
The finale was the Calzone con Cavolo which was phenomenal, as in lick the plate phenomenal. We all thought it was the hero of the meal and is very much worth going back for. The cauliflower purée acts as a cheese in this dish and makes all the veggies inside, especially the artichoke tender and creamy.
Value = 20/20
Given that we ordered 1 entrée and 2 mains between 4 people and were all full for $14 per person I would say that this is incredible value for money.
Service = 14/20
I have never been a fan of restaurants where you can’t book and I was a bit taken aback when I was asked to sit at the bar and wait until my friends arrived even though the restaurant was half empty. However the staff were very friendly, helpful and quick, and upon leaving I saw the line that had formed outside and could understand why they were hesitant to seat me without the rest of my party. I recommend that if you’re going for dinner that you should arrive before 6pm to secure a table or you’ll inevitably be in a queue.
Ambience = 7/10
Gigi isn’t by any means a big restaurant and the tables are a little cramped together, however acoustically we didn’t have any problem like you might normally have in a narrow restaurant. I also wouldn’t recommend visiting on a particularly hot evening. At 31 degrees, seated next to the pizza oven with no air conditioning or fans we didn’t stay as long as we might otherwise have, but are looking forward to returning on a cool evening to enjoy a cocktail with our calzone. For the rest of the Seinfeld fans out there, this calzone is for you!