Fitzroy's vegan Smith & Daughters goes Italian

Not ox tail ragu on the vegan Italian menu from Smith and Daughters.
Not ox tail ragu on the vegan Italian menu from Smith and Daughters. Photo: Nicole Goodwin

Smith & Daughters, Fitzroy's 100 per cent vegan south-of-the-border restaurant, has gone Italian. Possibly just for a while, but maybe forever. "We'll see how it goes," says chef-owner Shannon Martinez.

When Smith & Daughters launched in 2014, Martinez, who eats meat herself, wanted to cater not just to vegans but to those attempting a meat-free or reduced-meat lifestyle, "who aren't ready to go the whole cauliflower".

After four years pushing tacos stacked with meaty jackfruit and a faux blood sausage that was too convincing for legit meat abstainers, Martinez is now doing not-beef carpaccio, cacio e pepe (spaghetti twirled with Kampot white pepper and faux parmesan from Greece), a soy protein-based schnitty that hangs right off the plate, and a ridiculously convincing looking "oxtail ragu" that's made on a base of compressed mushrooms, served over creamy polenta.

The vegan schnitzel.
The vegan schnitzel. Photo: Nicole Goodwin

The reasoning checks out. "I was bored," says Martinez. "And most of our customers are locals, so it's nice to give them something new." The menu will continue for the foreseeable future, during which time they're (unofficially) calling themselves Smith & Bella's.

In other news, Martinez and co-owner Mo Wyse are also on the lookout for a bigger site in Brunswick Street for their other all-vegan operation, Smith & Deli. "Some people are queuing for an hour for a sandwich, and I'm conscious I wouldn't do that," Martinez says. They're hoping to find a space big enough to increase production and run as a giant canteen, potentially with the capacity to start offering deliveries.

175 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, 03 9939 3293, smithanddaughters.com