We are now living in a world where veganism is no longer a fad.
There are 3.5 million vegans living in the UK who have been converted to the lifestyle for good, and they are all hungry for good old-fashioned grub (as long as it is 100% plant-based).
This means that the restaurant industry has had to adapt to all these hungry vegans who are now at their doors. Restaurants like Don Giovanni’s, Manchester’s oldest Italian, is a great example of how restaurants have made this change to become inclusive of these lifestyles.
Now, that isn’t to say that this change to catering to vegan diets was in any way easy. Italian food is famous not only for its meat and fish but for cheeses, egg-based pasta and cream which is not vegan-friendly by any stretch.
But Don’s has managed to put the butter aside and come up with a beautiful menu of vegan food which is so much more than a mere afterthought. This vegan menu is so delicious, it would be hard for any meat-eater to differentiate these dishes from vegetarian food if you ask me.
The other thing about this menu is that it is extensive. No token vegan dishes here just to tick a box.
Starters include Caponata Piccante con Melanzane – mild spicy aubergine and vegetable stew cooked the Sicilian way and served with homemade bread and the heart-warming Butternut Squash Soup topped with apple croutons, sage and roasted pumpkin seeds.
Don Giovanni keeps things classic with the Bruschetta alle Zucchine (bruschetta topped with courgette and basil pesto and the delicious Puttanesca Panzarotti formed of soft chewy dough triangles filled with spinach, capers, olives, Italian herbs and vegan parmesan.
As for the mains, I hope the vegans of Manchester like pasta because there is plenty of it on this menu!
Fettuccine Al Limone e Prezzemolo is a zesty pasta in a buttery sauce finished with parsley and pine nuts while the bright fuchsia pink Spaghetti Ross Alla Barbabietola takes linguine and mixes it with a beetroot pesto with pistachios and rosemary dressing.
The Lasagne Alla Melanzane was a real winner too with beautiful layers of roasted aubergine, cherry tomato sauce, lasagne pasta and vegan mozzarella, while the Risotto Alla Zucca was creamy and comforting with flavours of butternut squash and perfectly cooked al dente rice.
Pizza lovers are not let out either. The Pizza Vegana is a white pizza with vegan mozzarella, artichokes, spinach, black olives, pine nuts, cherry tomatoes and topped with a bit of rocket – just delicious and everything you need from a pizza.
And on to dessert, Don Giovanni offers a lovely vegan Pana Cotta with berry compote, a selection of sorbets and Fragole Con Balsamico e Gelato Limone – that’s lemon sorbet in strawberry and balsamic sauce to you and me.
It doesn’t matter if you are a plant-based person or not, you will be looked after at Don Giovanni, and I seriously doubt you will be able to taste the difference.
Don Giovanni, Peter House, 1-2 Oxford St, Manchester M1 5AN
0161 228 2482