Carluccio’s launches Meat Free Monday pop-up

Restaurant chain turns its flagship store vegetarian for four Mondays

Carluccio’s Garrick Street

Carluccio’s is going meat free for a month, with the launch of its first vegan and vegetarian pop-up in central London. The entire first floor of the restaurant chain’s flagship eatery on Garrick Street, Covent Garden, will be taken over by the pop-up, Cucina Verde, for four consecutive Mondays from October 23 … all in honour of Meat Free Monday!

Diners at Cucina Verde – which means “green kitchen” – will be able to tuck into 20 delicious new dishes created by the founder of Carluccio’s, Italian chef Antonio Carluccio, in collaboration with food writer and blogger Anna Barnett. The autumn/winter veggie menu, set to be rolled out across the company’s more than 100 restaurants, will also be available. The MFM move lends credence to Carluccio’s claims to offer the largest selection of meat free and vegan meals of any nationwide chain.

“We have seen a huge demand for more vegetarian and vegan dishes, many from our millennial diners, who are giving up or reducing their meat intake, for environmental and/or health reasons. Our new menu firmly puts the spotlight on vegetables and the Cucina Verde has been created to further highlight the variety of delicious meat free dishes we now have on offer across all our restaurants every day,” said Neil Wickers, CEO of Carluccio’s.

The pop-up aims to tap into the growing meat free movement in Britain. There are now more vegans in Britain than ever before – 542,000, according to an Ipsos Mori poll conducted last year, which is more than 1 per cent of the population. That figure is up from 150,000 in 2006, a rise of 360 per cent in a decade.

The vegan dishes on offer include Crostini al Funghi: sautéed mushrooms and kale in garlic and chilli on toasted ciabatta; Polpette di Pane: a twist on a traditional dish from Puglia, meat free bread balls of semi-dried tomatoes, garlic, capers and olives in a tomato sauce on spaghetti; and Orecchiette al Cavoflore: cauliflower purée, sautéed kale, chilli and roasted turmeric cauliflower florets. Veggies, meanwhile, can tuck into Zucca con Verdure Arrostite: roasted butternut squash and vegetables with pine nuts and goat’s cheese; Pasta e Fagioli: a traditional northern Italian soup of pasta, borlotti beans and tomatoes; and mushroom risotto with chilli and truffle oil.

“Vegetables are very important in Italian food culture and are often the stars of the show, it’s not uncommon for dishes to be exclusively plant-based. Our new autumn/winter menu has been designed to celebrate the humble vegetable; from kale and cauliflower to borlotti beans and butternut squash,” said Antonio Carluccio, who sold his stake in the business that bears his name in 2005 but remains a consultant.

Barnett, meanwhile, says she is determined to convert more people to the meat free cause, having transformed the diet of her husband, an unadventurous vegetarian when they first got together. “I began to create different meat free recipes to show him how exciting and varied plant-based meals could be,”  she said. “I’m now on a mission to get everybody to eat less meat.”

Given that a fifth of Britain’s vegans live in the capital, it’s probably wise to book ahead. You can do so now on 020 7836 0990, quoting “Cucina Verde”, or by visiting carluccios.com