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Meat Free and Mindful Drinking Headline Innovation in Gusto Italian’s Spring Menu

Premium casual dining group, Gusto Italian, has launched its new Spring/Summer menu this month, after undertaking consumer research to better understand evolving dining trends among the customer base of the restaurant group’s 14 UK sites.

Delivered by customer experience experts Feed it Back in Q1 2023, the survey of Gusto Italian guests has shown a continued rise in consumers seeking meat-free menu items and mindful drinking options when eating out. Research has indicated that, compared to the wider population, Gusto Italian diners over-index towards dining trends including ethical and sustainability conscious, healthy eating, vegetarian and flexitarian, and this has helped to guide menu development for the casual dining group, adding dishes that reflect the ever-evolving lifestyle choices of its diners.

In parallel to the consumer insights, Gusto Italian’s new seasonal menu has been innovated and inspired by research trips to Italy, led by CEO Matt Snell and Executive Chef Graham Kirk. Dishes developed through this process include the Burrata with Watermelon Tartare, which was added after the team visited an Italian formaggiaio and had the opportunity to make the cheese themselves.

Along with the introduction of dishes that reflect seasonality such as Jerusalem Artichoke & Truffle Ravioli, Crab Fettuccini and Prosecco & Saffron Risotto, Gusto Italian has launched a plant-based steak to offer a premium alternative for the increasing number of consumers seeking meat-free dishes. A first for the industry, the dish is made from plant-based proteins, coconut oil and beetroot seasoned with a variety of herbs and spices, creating a delicious vegan option.

Additionally, with guests more regularly choosing to drink no or less alcohol when out, Gusto Italian has also invested in the development of a new 'Mindful Drinking’ menu featuring new low and no cocktails.

Kat Schofield, Head of Marketing at Gusto Italian said, “As the go-to venue for special occasions, we are continually monitoring the latest food trends to ensure that our menus offer an exciting range of authentic Italian dishes that cater for all our guests whatever their tastes, dietary or lifestyle choices. The consumer research that was conducted at the start of the year emphasised the demand for meat-free meals and mindful drinking options, and the menu development team has come back with some stunning additions to our Spring/Summer menu. The vegan steak is a massive stride forward for meat free alternatives, and is a first for UK casual dining. We’re also introducing some wonderfully fresh and bright seasonal dishes that our guests will love.”

The launch of Gusto Italian’s Spring/Summer menu will be supported by local influencer and PR campaigns along with a consumer competition, which will offer guests who take a picture of any new dish/drink and share on socials the chance to win £100 voucher for Gusto Italian. Gusto Gold Reward members will also be able to redeem a free drink when purchasing two main dishes from the new menu.

Recent guest feedback data illustrates that Gusto Italian’s model of ongoing menu innovation is hugely popular with consumers. Feedback scores have reached record levels, the first-class experience reflected in an average Net Promoter Score in the 80s, compared to an industry average of 55, and an average amongst the other leading casual dining operators in the 60s.


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