379 King St
Newtown, NSW 2042
Vegan food may be getting up to some rather marvellous things in the last few years, but I’ve always drawn the line at vegan pizza. Surely a dish that mandates the addition of cheese in its most traditional form can’t possibly taste good without it, right? And frankly, if it weren’t for Jan and her recommendation of Gigi Pizzeria, I would’ve gone on happily believing the same forevermore.
So what’s special about Jan and her recommendation for Gigi Pizzeria? For starters, not only does Jan know what she’s talking about in regards to food, she’s also an omnivore-turned-herbivore, so she knows what traditional pizza tastes like, and she promises that the vegan version at Gigi’s is just as good. And judging by the line that snakes around the corner before the restaurant even opens, most people seem to agree.
Funnily enough, Gigi’s actually started out as a traditional non-vegan pizzeria, and a well-lauded one at that, with an accreditation from the AVPN no less. It wasn’t until a few years ago that they made the very controversial change to a complete vegan menu. Yet instead of crashing and burning like most people probably expected it to, it flourished under its new identity, and remains to this day one of the most popular places in Sydney for pizza.
Having gotten used to Sydney’s thing of no free bread before meals, I was delighted to find myself presented with a small dish of peanuts as we waited for our pizzas.
All the pizzas at Gigi’s are popular, but the Patate ($25) seems to be one of the especial favourites; Jan certainly seemed to have nothing but good things to say about it. And because I can always count on Jan to have good taste, this is one of the best pizzas I’ve ever eaten, vegan or not.
The potato gets the double royal treatment here; lining the base are paper-thin slices of potato that almost have an al dente mouthfeel to them, and scattered over the top are chunks of smashed skin-on roasties. The truffle paste comes in generous dollops that infuse the pizza with an earthy, pungent fragrance that will have you reminiscing about it for the rest of the night. And whilst the crust isn’t quite as puffy as I like, it is delightfully thin and pliant, and best of all, still retained a bit of crispiness from the wood fire oven.
Breaking from tradition, I opted for one of the Specials ($27) – this wasn’t actually given a name on the menu – instead of going with my usual margherita. This was a delightfully salty and flavoursome treat, the chunks of marinated artichoke hearts and black olives on the robust tomato paste reminiscent of an antipasto platter in pizza form. The vegan mozzarella – the mozzarisella – may have tasted closer to ricotta than mozzarella when eaten alone, but it did it’s job when combined with the rest of the pizza, adding a mellow creaminess to the bold toppings.
We had such a good time with the pizzas that we allowed ourselves to be talked into a dessert of Pastiera Di Gigi ($12). More a pie than a tart, this was a lovely pastry filled with cool, thick cream, flavoured with orange blossom water and flecked with candied orange peels. Not being someone who’s a fan of overly buttery pastry, I appreciated the lighter and doughier mouthfeel of this one. This may not be a ground-breaking dessert, it was a satisfying ending to the meal, made all the more impressive by the fact that it’s vegan.
Like so many others, I was completely and utterly taken with Gigi Pizzeria. Not only is the food fantastic, you also get the added bonus of feeling good about yourself because you had vegan for dinner. I was especially impressed with their approach to the whole affair as well; instead of trying to force vegan equivalents of traditional pizzas, which invariably don’t ever turn out as well, they’ve gone their own way and created completely new combinations that showcased the ingredients that they have. It is the full pizza experience with none of the animal, and my only regret is not trying their other special for the night – the broccoli and vegan sausage pizza.
Rating: 14.5/20 – go go gigi.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.