John's Italian restaurant on East 12th Street has been around since 1908. With the loss of the Beatrice Inn and now Fedora, it's one of the last of a few places where you can go in the East or West Village for an authentic "red sauce" meal in a place that hasn't changed.
As a surviving classic, it makes sense they'd try something new to stay in the game.
On a recent trip, with a craving for meatballs, I discovered their new "Vegan Italian Specialties" menu. It includes such dishes as Seitan Scallopini and Seitan Parmigiana, whole wheat and gluten-free pasta, as well as gluten-free cannoli, and vegan ice cream from Lula's Sweet Apothecary.
John's notes on the vegan menu: "We want everyone to be able to enjoy our Italian specialties made with the freshest ingredients available! All of our vegan dishes are plant-based and contain no animal ingredients whatsoever. We use dedicated cooking utensils for preparing vegan dishes."
I'm not vegan, so I can't review the food. And while I may look askance at gluten-free cannoli (that's not how Grandma made them), I applaud John's for making a change that may help it to survive without ruining the spirit and atmosphere of the place. Vegans, spread the word.
Keeping up with the changing world of food, in addition to their vegan menu, John's is also on Facebook and Twitter.