For the vegetarian traveler in Rome, one may find it somewhat difficult to find satisfying vegetarian dishes in this meat-loving city. Surprisingly, if one knows where to look, there are some fantastic options even for the hungry vegetarian.
Being a semi-vegetarian myself, (I eat mostly vegetables, fruit & legumes but also eat dairy products, eggs and seafood) I sometimes had a hard time finding things to order other than the vegetable side dishes at the traditional Roman restaurants where meat & poultry was a large part of every menu.
Luckily, the Italians also love fruits and vegetables and many of the antipasti or appetizers and contorni or side dishes always included such vegetarian items such as sautéed spinach with garlic, grilled vegetables brushed with fresh olive oil, roasted potatoes with rosemary or the always popular insalata caprese which is a simple yet tasty salad composed of tomatoes, fresh mozzarella & basil with olive oil drizzled on top. If you are a vegetarian that does not eat dairy products, you can always ask them to leave out the cheese. Most restaurants also provided fresh pineapple, strawberries and fruit salad for dessert. The Italian restaurants in Rome almost always have some kind of soup, but make sure to inquire about what kind of broth was used for the base as some of the “vegetable” soups could have used beef or chicken stock for the soup’s base.
For the vegetarian traveler with heartier appetites, you may want a restaurant that offers vegetarian options as the “main course.” Luckily for you, with a little help from my Italian friends, I was able to find some excellent vegetarian restaurants conveniently located around the historical center.
One of my favorites was definitely Il Margutta RistoArte” located within short walking distance from the Piazza di Spagna and the fashionable shopping street Via Condotti. This restaurant is beautifully decorated and usually has live entertainment (a singing pianist) in the evenings. My favorite meal there last winter was the polenta served with a savory wild mushroom ragù. The menu is innovative and the presentation gorgeous. They also have a delicious raspberry mille feuille with a delicate custard cream. Il Margutta has 2 different menus which changes with the seasons. There is a vegan menu as well as the vegetarian menu. This restaurant also stocks organic wines and sparkling ciders, which were especially good.
Another great place that is also a short walk from the Spanish Steps is Naturist Club – L’Isola located on the charming Via della Vita. This cozy restaurant and health food store serves homemade vegetarian/macrobiotic and organic fare made of simple yet tasty ingredients. I enjoyed a very satisfying dinner of hearty lentil soup and polpettine vegetali or meatless meatballs with a freshly made tomato sauce seasoned with coriander. They offered some tempting tarts and dolci as well but unfortunately, I was too full from the dinner to try them! I’ll look forward to the dessert the next time I am in Rome.
Other vegetarian or semi-vegetarian restaurants that I did not go to but garnered great reviews from my local Roman friends are listed below.
Enjoy your stay in Rome and don’t forget, you can always find great vegetarian dining as long as you know where to look!
And if you look for an accommodation in Rome offering organic and vegetarian breakfast, check out the Bed and Breakfast Villaggio Olimpico on venere.com.
Via Margutta, 118
+39 06 326 50577
Via della Vita 14
+39 06 679 2509
Via dei Latini @ Via Tiburtina
+39 06 703 45432
Via Trionfale 94
+39 06 397 42975
Via delle Sette Chiese 160 (Garbatella)
+39 06 512 8991
Via Trionfale 94 (Circ.ne Clodia)
39 06 397 42975
Via di S.Francesco di Sales 1a (Trastevere)
+39 06 688 09989
Photos originally posted by Robyn Lee