CHEF Filippo Rosato has truly earned his crust this year.

The Italian, 31, is head chef at Purezza in St James’s Street, Brighton – the UK’s only vegan pizzeria along with its recently-opened London branch.

His creation, Parmigiana Party, was last week named the best pizza in the country at the National Pizza Awards.

Filippo, originally from Naples, the Italian city regarded as the “home of pizza”, got involved in the vegan craze three years ago and has developed a formidable working bond with owners Tim Barclay and Stefania Evangelisti,

Parmigiana Party was voted National Pizza of the Year at the awards, which showcase the best of the country’s pizzas.

Its toppings are smoked vegan mozzarella, fried aubergine, crumbled soya sausage, basil and nutritional yeast, which can be served on either a sourdough base, hemp flour base or gluten-free base.

Filippo was delighted to win the award on October 3 for his design.

Speaking about winning the award, he said: “It’s unbelievable. To get this sort of recognition for something that I love is the best feeling I’ve ever had.

“I’m really proud, because I really believe in this project.

“I started to believe in vegan food in 2015, and to spend time with Tim and Stefania and join them on this trip, and now to win this award, is something that I’m really proud of.

“This will be a new starting point where we can say: ‘It’s true – we can do something really special’.”

Filippo is a strong believer in veganism and has seen the market expand greatly over the past few years.

And he insists plant-based foods are just as good as any other.

“Vegan food has improved immeasurably in the last few years,” he said.

“We’ve seen huge changes in just the three years we’ve been running as a restaurant.

“The truth is, you can eat all the foods you know and love with amazing plant-based alternatives now.

“They taste just as good, are healthier for you, and don’t compromise in taste.”

Purezza is also opening its own cheese factory and produces the cheese used in dishes.

The restaurant won £35,000 funding from an investment pitch competition.

Its newest experiment is called Mozzarella 2.0 – a completely vegan, lab-crafted mozzarella alternative which is free from common allergens such as soya, gluten and nuts.

With Filippo’s pizza creations and the people above him regularly working on new game-changing concepts, it seems a match made in heaven.

Purezza co-owner Tim said: “When we opened Purezza, we had one goal: to show that plant-based foods can rival their animal-based counterparts. When we were announced as a finalist in the National Pizza Awards, we were over the moon.

“It meant the world to us just to reach the finals, so to have actually walked away with National Pizza of the Year is groundbreaking.

“I think this shows we’ve not only reached our goal of rivalling regular meat and dairy pizzas, but exceeded it, and it shows how good plant-based options have become.”