If you think about the most popular Italian dishes as they are known internationally, you might end up believing that Italy and its capital, Rome, aren’t some of the best destinations for vegan travellers. A deeper look at the offer of local markets, restaurants, and at the products of Mother Nature, which has always been so generous with Italy, will make you reconsider the question whether or not vegan Rome is a thing (vegan Bologna is absolutely a thing). There are a few essential tips you need to know for enjoying Rome vegan and be sure that beautiful surprises are awaiting you when you explore the vegan Rome!
Tips to enjoy vegan Rome fully
Vegan Rome Breakfast
Italians are famous all over the world for being passionate and childish. This reflects onto their eating habits. Rome locals choose taste over health when it comes to eating, and you will witness this early in the morning in any of the small espresso/cappuccino places scattered around the city, which are called “bar” in Italian. The first meal of the day usually consists of a sweet, sugary treat like “cornetto”, the Italian croissant, and a hot coffee-based beverage consumed in a hurry. Breakfast the Italian way is a cultural thing you might want to experience when you are in Rome choosing the vegan options available. At the average “bar” you can ask for:
Cornetto vegano | Vegan croissant. Any other variety of croissant easily hides butter or even lard, unfortunately.
Cappuccino di soia | Soy-milk cappuccino is the only vegan cappuccino variety in most of the coffee places in Rome.
Spremuta d’arancia or Spremuta di melograno | There are a few juice bars in Rome’s historical centre, however, every local coffee shop has fresh oranges or pomegranates ready to be juiced, for usually €2.5 to €4.
Looking for vegan restaurants Rome ideas that have breakfast near the historic centre?
Ecrù | Raw food and art gallery // Via Acciaioli 9-11-13. Open Wed. thru Mon.
Wani | We are not Ingredients // Via Gabriello Chiabrera 162/B Open Tue. thru Sun.
100% Bio | Vegan and vegetarian breakfast, buffet lunch, and aperitivo // Piazza di Porta San Paolo 6/a Open Mon. thru Sun.
Vegan in Rome: main meal
The vegan population of Rome becomes bigger and bigger every day, but most of the locals eat cheese and sprinkle grated cheese on pasta and salads out of habit and addiction. When you sit at a local restaurant before you even scan the menu to see if there’s a vegan section, communicate to the staff that you can’t eat animal derivatives including cheese and eggs. Therefore, you should also avoid homemade pasta, which usually contains eggs. Here are a few vegan Italian dishes that you will find at any restaurant in Rome.
Pasta Aio, Oio, e peperoncino
A very simple and tasty pasta dish belonging to the farmer tradition, seasoned with olive oil, garlic and chilli peppers, but never too spicy. This is a very basic pasta recipe that any chef will make in the blink of an eye, and you can request it even if it’s not on the menu.
Pasta all’arrabbiata or Pasta al pomodoro e basilico
While there are two names for the same dish, the “arrabbiata” version could result slightly spicy. The topping of this pasta dish is a sauce made of tomatoes, onions, olive oil, and basil.
As per the tradition, every balanced Italian meal should include at least a veggie dish, that usually comes as a side dish. Rome and the countryside around Rome are among the richest areas in the world in terms of vegetables and fruits production, that is abundant in every season. Some veggie dishes that you will eat at the restaurants in Rome you won’t be able to find anywhere else, and it would be a pity not to taste them:
Carciofo alla romana
The Roman artichoke is a specific quality of artichoke slowly cooked in olive oil with garlic and emperor’s mint. The result is a tender, scented vegan dish impossible to resist.
Carciofo alla giudia
Deep-fried artichoke delicacy from the Jewish Roman traditional cuisine. You can find the best in the Ghetto District of Rome’s historical centre.
Chicory is the most popular veggie dish of Roman cuisine. Bitter and savoury, it’s often sauteed but also boiled and served at room temperature with a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, and salt.
Not only tasty, but the Roman broccoli is also very beautiful with its intriguing geometric shape. You will find them sauteed or boiled, same as chicory.
The delicious Broccolini is only available as the meal of the day at a few restaurants. I suggest you get your own at the local market and cook it yourself. You can remove the thickest stems, boil it until it’s tender, then pan fry with a few spoons of olive oil and a slice of garlic.
Sweet chards are very popular on Roman tables. They are usually sauteed in olive oil together with some fresh tomatoes and garlic.
The “mixed salad” at the traditional Italian restaurant usually consists of lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, radicchio leaves, and a spoon of corn. The classical dressing is a simple mixture of olive oil, salt, and balsamic vinegar, and you add it yourself.
Grilled veggies are common appetizers and generally include eggplants and zucchini.
Rome vegan: Local markets and farmers markets
If you have the chance to cook in your own apartment, do it! Buying veggies and fruit at the grocery shop is convenient and will save you money. There are offers every day and you will be able to buy 1 kilo of products for €1 easily. Open-air markets are common as well. Here are a few that you can check out on your trip to Rome.
Mercato Trionfale // Via La Goletta, 1 – Open every morning from Mon. to Sat.
This market in the elegant Prati district is just a short walk away from the Vatican and St. Peter’s Square.
Mercato di Campo dei Fiori // Piazza Campo de’ Fiori – Open every morning.
This is probably the oldest food market in Rome. You will find it a bit more touristic compared to other food markets because it’s located at the heart of the Renaissance part of the city, one of the most fascinating areas to stroll around in Rome.
Farmers Market of Circo Massimo // Via San Teodoro, 74 – Open Sat. and Sun 9 AM to 4 PM.
Here is where you will find the local farmers (Rome and surrounding areas) selling products of the highest quality at a convenient price.
Rome vegan restaurants
Even if only a small part of the contemporary Romans is vegan, there are quite a few places to check out downtown that specialize in vegan food.
Romeow Cat Bistrot // Via Francesco Negri, 15
This cat bistro is also one of the best cafes in Rome and offers only vegan dishes and cakes, juices, coffees, and teas. It is a bit outside the historical centre but totally worth your visit. It’s advisable to reserve a table on the weekends. Open Tue. thru Sun.
Solo Crudo // Via Federico Cesi, 22
Here, vegan dishes are created with gently cooked or raw veggies resulting in an explosion of flavours and colours. This bistro offers gluten-free dishes.
Flower Burger // Via Dei Gracchi, 87
The flower is the mascot of this vegan-burger brand born in Milan and later flourished in Rome as well. A flower is colourful and brings about cheerfulness and positivity, and so do the 7 burger varieties, side dishes, and dessert from the shop!
iPhame // Via Agostino Depretis, 64
Here you will find vegan-lasagna, panini, shakes and smoothies.
Ma Va’ Restaurant // Via Euclide Turba, 6/8
The interior design follows the style of the Roman trattoria: intimate and romantic. Some dishes are original, while others propose a vegan interpretation of traditional Roman dishes.
Vegan gelato in Rome
Finding vegan gelato in Rome can be tricky. Any gelato shop in Rome should be able to offer a few sorbet, or gelato made without milk and eggs, therefore you first want to ask the staff for vegan varieties of their gelato, and the most furnished shops will be able to help. Some of the traditional gelato shops that also offer vegan gelato are:
Neve di Latte // Via Federico Cesi, 1
Gelateria Iamotti // Via Trionfale, 122
Grezzo | Raw-vegan gelato and bakery in Rome // Via Urbana, 130
This tiny shop creates raw-vegan Rome gelato with homemade almond milk and raw-vegan cakes and pralines at the heart of the Monti neighbourhood, very close to the Colosseum. The gelato here is different, less sweet, and a bit more expensive than the usual for Rome ( €3 for 1 scoop, €4 for 2 scoops, €5 for 3 scoops). But that’s understandable since all the ingredients are raw.
Non-vegan bistros with a good vegan offer
Fratelli De Luca | Salads & Juice Bar // Via Germanico, 152
Escosazio | Juice & Panini Bar // Via dei Banchi Vecchi, 135
Aromaticus Monti | Plant Shop, Juice Bar & Bistrot // Via Urbana, 134
Where can you buy raw vegan ingredients in Rome?
At Cacaopuro – The World of Raw, located in Via Giuseppe Troiani 19 you’ll find the most popular raw vegan ingredients at convenient prices, and also in maxi-packages: cacao powder, cocoa beans, all kinds of seeds, dried fruits, coconut oil and flakes, and more superfoods produced by sustainable farming communities in different parts of the globe. All the products in the shop are either raw or dried below 40 degrees.