After almost a decade of selling some of Sydney’s best Neapolitan pizza, Gigi’s owner and pizzaiolo, Marco Mattino, decided to take all animal products off the menu in late 2015.
The menu wasn't completely overhauled - Mattino still makes traditional Neapolitan pizzas, just without using cheese or meat. Crucially the dough, for which Gigi’s received accreditation from pizza’s highest authority, the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN), is still the same.
The pizzas, which were once topped with mozzarella or prosciutto, now feature creative combinations such as roast potatoes with truffle paste; a gooey soft-roofed calzone with pumpkin; and an astoundingly umami-rich pizza with ground yellow tomatoes and grilled asparagus.
Vegan cheese products don't feature strongly on the menu. Mattino prefers fresh, natural produce. Instead he’s been experiments with different seed, nut and fruit products to find a natural replacement for the creaminess and umami flavour cheese provides.
Likewise, the selection of hunger-inducing aperitifs is rich with interesting creations. The Basilico blends vodka, agave syrup, lemon juice and fresh basil; the zingy Rucola includes rocket, brown sugar, Bacardi, cracked pepper and tonic.
One pizza that will never move is Gigi's traditional marinara, with tomato, oregano, and garlic. For dessert there's Mattino’s Pastiera, a traditional Neapolitan ricotta cheesecake. The new variety, replacing ricotta and barley with cashew cream and walnuts, is arguably better than the original.