IN THE NEWS: On JAN 4, 2017
No longer will Melbourne vegans have to order the "vegetarian, but hold the cheese", with a 100 per cent plant-based pizzeria coming to Collingwood next month.
Red Sparrow owner-chef Michael Craig (ex-Trippy Taco), a vegan for more than 10 years, has been putting dairy-free cheese substitutes through their paces, with parmesan, fior di latte, two types of mozzarella, and feta all featuring on the topping line-up.
"My pet hate is when you go to a pizzeria and they've got 40 options, but they're all pretty much the same, you've got the vegetarian one, and then there's the vegetarian with extra pineapple," says Craig.
"We don't need to settle for an option any more."
The wood-fired oven, imported from Italy, will be firing puffy-crusted "Neapolitan-style" pizzas from February.
The opening menu includes nine vegan topping combos, from a virtuous spinach and kale pesto base topped with zucchini flowers and broccolini, to a classic margherita, (Craig has tested the mock mozzarella's texture, "tapioca adds stretchiness and coconut oil helps it melt," he explains).
And there's no need to pass up a pepperoni pie, with a pair of mock meats featuring on the menu: a plant-based pepperoni, and a beer-infused bratwurst on a barbecue sauce base. Or patrons can avoid mock products altogether with the cheese-free hummus or smoked eggplant options. Gluten-, soy- and nut-free diets will be accommodated.
There is a growing appetite for vegan pizza, with Sydney's Gigi switching to a cheese-free menu in late 2015.
Red Sparrow's desserts will be rotating specials. "We'll do a vegan tiramisu, raw brownies, and Nutella-type pizza, but we'll make our own hazelnut chocolate spread," says Craig.
Once the liquor licence is approved, the drinks list will include vegan-friendly wines, local craft beers and Australian spirits.
The compact pizzeria will seat 32 patrons and offer takeaway.
Red Sparrow is expected to open in early February at 406 Smith Street, Collingwood. For updates, see redsparrowpizza.com