Hear the story behind Pino’s menu change
Since 2018, Islington residents have enjoyed the tasty offerings available at the all-vegan restaurant, Pino’s. In early May 2023, owner Dion Pophristoff, alongside the rest of his team, made the calculated business decision to include the omnivores.
In case you missed it, on May 2nd, 2023, Dion announced via Pino’s Instagram that Pino’s, as we have all known it for the past five years would be coming to an end.
“This is our last week of being fully plant-based. It has been a difficult decision to make, but we feel this is the right direction for us to focus on. Always maintaining a sustainable approach to the food we use, and being selective with the producers we work with. We will still offer your favourite plant-based options.”
That’s right, meat has been added to the menu at Pino’s. Following the reception of both harsh criticism and serious support, we thought we’d give Dion the chance to explain his reasoning behind the change, and it may have been the move that saved Pino’s from closing their doors altogether.
“We’re finding that we were turning away 40% of people for breakfast trade, once they realised we were vegan. It was really disheartening.
“We started having conversations with friends and customers who are and aren’t vegan and they all came to the same conclusion that we should cater to everyone. We had a couple of really bad weeks where I was putting all of my savings into the business just to keep the doors open,” said Dion.
The cost of living has no doubt affected almost every household not only across Newcastle but across the whole country. Dion has seen an opportunity to keep his business open and his staff employed, rather than seeing his venue close its doors.
“Every industry is feeling it right now. Not just hospitality. People who were coming out maybe once a week, are now maybe going once a month because they can’t afford it. We’ve always been looking at ways we can get people coming through the doors and to make Pino’s sustainable – by opening the menu up is how we’ve had to do it.”
The change has affected both their breakfast and night menus, featuring not only a decent selection of dishes for the omnivores, but still a heavily focused plant-based offering.
Changes to the breakfast menu (available Thu-Sun, 7am-2pm) will include new dishes like the Eggs Benedict with smoked leg ham, poached eggs, and hollandaise on sourdough toast, and the Chilli Crab Scramble with spanner crab, lardo, scrambled eggs, chili emulsion, shallots, and chives.
Vegans will still be able to dine at Pino’s for breakfast with the venue still offering their Sourdough Pancake complete with blueberries, strawberries, and maple, sweet corn Fritters with zucchini and watercress salad, avocado, and sunflower aioli, and not to mention their vegan pastries!
“For now, I’ve kept the menu really simple and entry-level. I’d like to get into some more experimental cooking and using some ingredients you may not usually see.”
Moving into the night menu (available Wed-Sun from 6pm) is where we can see Pino’s new omnivore-friendly dishes shine as well as still keeping in line with their usual share-style plates.
The SHELLS offering includes Appellation Oyster with brown butter vinaigrette, Raw Scallop with lardo and Jerusalem artichoke, and Pickled Mussels with smoked chilli and chicken fat.
The SHARE section includes a collection of both vegan and non-vegan plates from the Porcini Arancini (VE) and Portobello Frites with peppercorn sauce (VE) to the Beef Carpaccio with shiitaki, pecorino, and salted egg yolk, and the King Prawns with nduja butter and lime.
“Everyone who has come through and tried the new menu has been friendly and supportive.”
Now onto the plates, we’re all excited about, the PASTA. Since their inception, Pino’s has continued to be known for their pasta offering, and with the changes to the menu, we think they’re going to continue that legacy.
Offering two vegan pasta dishes; Spaghetti Marinara with tomato, garlic, basil, and olive oil, and Rigatoni Norma complete with eggplant, tomato, garlic, cashew cream, and oregano. And two non-vegan pasta dishes; Spaghetti Carbonara with guanciale, pecorino, egg yolk, and black pepper, and the Gnocchi Ragout with lamb shoulder, san Marzano, sofrito, and rosemary.
Having recently partnered with Josh & Florence of Beaumont Street’s Vera Wine, visitors can enjoy the unique drops featured throughout the wine list.
Still showcasing their staple open-plan kitchen, diners can watch their food be prepared, cozy up in a nook of the dining area, or opt for outside, dog-friendly seating during the day.
Whether you’re looking for some top-notch vegan eats, or keen to see Pino’s take on omnivore dishes, book your table at Islington’s Italian restaurant.