Eating vegan and vegetarian in Rome
As part of our exposure to how guests and foreign visitors, more generally speaking, see us & what their views are after a stay in Rome, we love reading English speaking blogs written by travel experts.
It gives us invaluable feedback on how people from other countries digest everything that happens during their Italian travels: cultural differences may be minimal, but they’re still there, and can turn a pleasant vacation into the source of many misgivings. So we’re all about the reading, here at From Home to Rome!
One of our latest finds left us a little bit puzzled, though. We’re not naming any names, however we read that Rome is hell for vegans and vegetarians!
The article we stumbled upon told how there are just a handful of specialized restaurants all over the city, and they are mostly based in the outskirts, where it’s inconvenient and dangerous to go to.
The truth about eating vegan and vegetarian in Rome
Eating vegan and vegetarian is not difficult in the slightest, actually. The reason is tied to the very history of Rome: meat has always been an expensive item, and many of the traditional dishes of Rome, offal (quinto quarto) notwithstanding, are a reflection of the simple cooking made by men and women who didn’t have any steaks or roasts at their disposal.
Actual vegan and vegetarian restaurants are something new in the culinary landscape of Rome, but if they seem to be a rare sighting, it’s just because the great majority of restaurants, be them traditional or contemporary, already offers many vegan or vegetarian dishes on their menus.
And it’s not just restaurants: city famous tavole calde, cafes-bistros where locals eat their lunch breaks, have plenty of options available if you’re that way inclined.
Navigating a menu is easy
Don’t believe us? Look at the menu of any restaurant – if the place is a new opening, chances are there will be symbols indicating a vegan or vegetarian dish, so as to make your life easier. If that is not the case, start perusing the different sections:
This section will contain a handful of vegan or vegetarian starters, which will vary depending on what the forte of the restaurant is. If they do Roman cuisine, for example, chances are you’ll find fiore di zucca, a battered zucchini flower deep fried and stuffed with mozzarella cheese, sometimes with an anchovy too – there are usually two types available, so just ask for the one with no anchovy involved!
A supplì is also vegetarian, unless it’s one of the more contemporary types available, for example with sausage, or with pancetta. Bruschetta is another antipasti fixture that is great for both vegans and vegetarians.
Cacio e pepe is a Roman classic, and it happens to be vegetarian! A delicious, simple spaghetti al pomodoro e basilico will be perfect for vegans traveling to Rome.
As you can guess, the primi section includes everything that is pasta-based, but also incorporates soups and rise-based dishes.
Saffron risotto is, again, perfectly suitable for vegans. Just like mushroom fettuccine or risotto – just ask the waiter if the chef uses butter or cream to stir the rice/pasta (in which case both dishes will be great for vegetarians, just not vegans): if you explain the situation they will be happy to avoid using it.
This section is for meat or fish-based main courses, so nothing to see here if you’re a vegan or vegetarian in Rome – except if you’re the latter and the menu lists an eggplant parmigiana: oh, joy!
Side dishes, literally – but not minor in the slightest!
Many staples of the Roman cuisine are actually in this section, and they’re all vegetable-based. Cicoria ripassata (sautéed chicory greens), deep fried artichokes, fava beans puree and chicory (when in season), roasted mushrooms, the misticanza (a wonderful salad that can be either served raw or sautéed)… There are plenty of choices here, and you won’t be disappointed!
And for those who don’t want to bother exploring a menu…
We got you: we find that it’s exciting to explore a menu, but you may not. If you want to find a good place serving vegan or vegetarian dishes, here are some selected addresses from us at From Home to Rome!
Via Bergamo 56 (Piazza Fiume/British Embassy)
Vegetarian buffet every day
Romeow Cat Bistrot
Via Francesco Negri 15 (Piramide subway stop/Ostiense train stop / walking distance to Eataly)
Vegan and raw cooking – hopefully you’re not allergic to cats!
Via Urbana 130 (Monti district, Cavour subway stop)
Raw vegan ice cream and cakes, right by our Via dei Capocci accommodation!
Via Ettore Giovenale, 56 (Pigneto subway stop, tram lines no. 14, no. 5, no. 19)
Vegan cuisine in the heart of the Pigneto district
Via Margutta 118 (Flaminio subway stop)
A vegetarian classic hangout in the heart of the fashion district, by Piazza del Popolo (and therefore walking distance from our very own Paradiso Penthouse). Does brunch, too.
Via Giuseppe Gioachino Belli, 142 (Lepanto subway stop)
A convenient option for those visiting the Vatican or Castel Sant’Angelo, it has an à la carte menu just at dinner – if you want to have lunch you will be able to choose from a buffet.
Via Boncompagni 31 (Via Veneto/U.S. Embassy)
A flexitarian restaurant, so plenty of choices if your party includes non-vegans/vegetarians!