For the last 3 years, I've been making it a priority to visit Italy for inspiration in my cooking.
My goal is to bring what I've learned back to the Italian-American plant-based scene. Each time I visit I search for chefs and restaurants that offer plant-based menu items. Below you will find travel tips and most importantly a list of restaurants that I've discovered that offer plant-based pizza, pasta, gelato, and much much more.
I plan to continually develop this page over time and I'm open to restaurant recommendations.
Before traveling to Italy, it is important to note that getting around is very simple. I open with saying this because if you have the privilege of visiting this beautiful country - you will want to make the most of your time by seeing and experiencing all there is to offer! I suggest focusing on one region at a time so you can soak up each city and reduce the amount of travel time. You'll be able to pack more into each day than you think. Do your research and plan your itinerary with the sites and restaurants you want to visit but be prepared to break it at anytime. It's fun to be spontaneous!
The trains in Italy are easy to use, affordable, and well connected. When traveling by train, you'll have some downtime to journal, relax, and plan more of your last minute itinerary. Be sure to download the Trenitalia app for train schedules.
As a New Yorker I recommend walking everywhere when possible (granted the walk is under an hour). It will help you save money, see more of the culture, and help keep the weight off from all the incredible food you will be eating! I shamelessly indulged during my most recent trip and was a bit hesitant about stepping on the scale when I returned...however I was relieved that I weighed the same as when I left! Get those steps in!
I recommend studying as much Italian as you can before departing by using language learning apps like Duolingo, Busuu, or Babbel. Learning the language helps you better understand the culture and connect closer with people. Don't be shy to try speaking Italian - they are supportive! Download the Google Translate app for easy on-the-go communication. But don't worry, they have menus and signs written in English and many locals speak multiple languages since tourism is a big part of their economy. The more time you spend in Italy, the easier it will get. Remember, practice makes progress!
Learn phrases you'll use frequently...
Generally speaking, it's polite to open with: "Parlí inglese?" - Do you speak english?
Be sure to practice phrases for ordering food or drinks since you'll be dining a lot.
""Posso avere uno cappuccino con latte di soia?"
Can I have a cappuccino with soy milk?
"Hai qualche opzione vegana?"
Do you have any vegan options?
Download lessons off of your language learning apps so you can practice on the plane or train!
Italian restaurants usually have vegetarian sections which will include dishes that are made with eggs and a variety of different cheeses. Eating vegan in Italy can be difficult but not impossible. The vegan scene is still very much in its infancy. However, with each year that passes - more and more restaurants are offering vegan tasting menus and 100% vegan restaurants are popping up.
When grabbing coffee in the morning - some (not all) cafés offer dairy free milk. The most common option is soy ("soia"). Very few offer almond milk and I never came across oat milk. I found some cafés to offer 1 or 2 vegan pastries.
Many pastas are made with just flour and water ("acqua e farina") - just ask your servers. When looking for pizza, the most common option is a simple pizza marinara which is made with tomato sauce, oregano, and garlic but some will add vegetables like eggplant or zucchini.
For dessert, most gelaterias offer fruit sorbets as well as soy-based gelatos with flavors that usually include vanilla, chocolate, hazelnut, pistachio, and almond.
Get an international data plan with your cellphone carrier.
Turn on roaming!
Buy an Italian power adapter/converter off Amazon.
They are more expensive at airports.
Bring a portable phone charger.
Remember to charge the charger!
Bring a 0% foreign transaction fee debit/credit card.
I use Schwab. They rebate all ATM withdrawal fees.
Keep 200 euros on you.
In case they don't take card.
RIFUGIO ROMANO - Via Volturno, 39/41, 00185 Roma RM, Italy
Without question - you must add this restaurant to your itinerary. It's an old-school trattoria serving traditional dishes & vegan specialties, plus cocktails, beer & wine. In my experience, this restaurant had the largest amount of plant-based offerings in Italy. This restaurant offers a wide selection of vegan antipasti, pastas, pizzas, and desserts. They even make some of their own vegan meats and cheeses in house! They are a very busy restaurant so you must make a reservation!
ROMEOW CAT BISTROT - Via Francesco Negri, 15, 00154 Roma RM, Italy
This Bohemian cafe has a playful decor & a vegan menu of cakes & smoothies, plus a brood of roaming cats. They have a tight-nit lunch menu and more extensive dinner menu. I recommend trying this place for dinner. Their menu is creatively delicious by mixing Asian ingredients and techniques with Italian cuisine.
Ma' Va? - Via Euclide Turba, 6/8, 00195 Roma RM, Italy
A bright, homey setting for creative vegan versions of classic regional pasta dishes & grilled items. The menu has a strong emphasis on the Mediterranean cuisine. They offer vegan pastas, cheeses, and fantastic mushroom cutlets.
100% BIO - Piazza di Porta S. Paolo, 6/a, 00153 Roma RM, Italy
An organic vegetarian and vegan cafe with fantastic coffee, cocktails & wine. They offer unique, inimitable, extraordinary croissants, simple or stuffed: 100% organic and vegan, which means without animal proteins, but also without palm oil, made only with certified organic natural ingredients. The menu is healthy, light and delicious. Go here for breakfast!
FLOWER BURGER - SEVERAL LOCATIONS
If you're curious as to how Italy does plant-based burgers - add this spot to your list. It's a restaurant chain specializing in beautiful plant-based burgers with colorful buns ranging from pink, black, green, yellow, orange and purple. A concept born from the idea of Matteo Toto, a young entrepreneur, who has embarked on a journey to discover tastes and flavors and in search of the perfect meeting point between burgers and vegan cuisine.
IL MARGUTTA - Via Margutta 118, Roma. Zone: Piazza del Popolo.
A modern alternative restaurant & gallery serving creative vegetarian twists on Roman menu classics. Live an authentic experience in the first Vegetarian Restaurant in Italy, a journey of refinement and culture among the flavors of nature in a refined environment. They offer vegan tasting menus & cheese platters as well as amazing pastas, seitan dishes, and desserts. They have a nice focus of using fresh and organic ingredients from their garden.
BUDDY ROMA - Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, 107A, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
A genuine and informal vegan restaurant, suitable for your evenings with friends and family. It was born from the idea and the union of three brothers, restaurateurs for passion and family tradition. The history of their restaurant starts from 1995 as a pub, and then continues as an omnivorous restaurant to the present day as a vegan restaurant.
Ops! - Via Bergamo, 56, 00198 Roma RM, Italy
A vegan buffet restaurant in the center of Rome where diners are charged according to the weight of their plate - hence the name: Ops! They are against food waste which is why they offer a 'by weight' buffet - so you pay for the exact amount of food you're looking to eat. They also offer vegan gelato - just ask your server for the daily selections.
GELARMONY ROMA - Via Marcantonio Colonna, 34, 00192 Roma RM, Italy
Located close to Vatican City, this Gelateria offers a nice selection of vegan gelato including: pistachio, hazelnut, chocolate, almond, vanilla, and coconut. They also offer a house made vegan whipped cream to put on top - which is absolutely delicious. Their gelato is soy-based and a must try.
Vrindaa - Via Salaria, 203, 00198 Roma RM, Italy
A fine dining vegan restaurant with a light and very fresh nutritious menu. Accommodating all of the allergens (even allium!), their menu contains no onion, garlic, alcohol and eggs. They prepare each dish with love and only use high quality organic products. They offer a 10 course tasting menu and also carry organic vegan wines.
L'Antica Trattoria - Via Padre Reginaldo Giuliani, 33, 80067 Sorrento NA, Italy
This is a must try upscale spot that you will definitely need a reservation for. They offer an unbelievable 5 course vegan tasting menu in a beautifully romantic atmosphere. I can't recommend this spot enough!
Frankie's Pizza Bar Sorrento - Via Torquato Tasso, 4, 80067 Sorrento NA, Italy
A snug, upbeat, casual spot providing traditional Neapolitan pizzas, pasta & gelato, plus beer & wine. I recommend trying their Chocolate-Hazelnut Pizza - it is super pillowy soft! They also offer pizzas with Violife cheese. You can also try a Sorrento classic - Gnocchi alla Sorrentina: which is gnocchi in a tomato sauce with mozzarella.
A'marenna - Via Torquato Tasso, 23, 80067 Sorrento NA, Italy
This place offers 5 vegan panini with Italian vegan made cold cuts and cheeses as well as salads. I recommend grabbing a few sandwiches & drinks to go and then heading to the water to enjoy them.
L'Antica Pizzeria Da Michele - Via Cesare Sersale, 1, 80139 Napoli NA, Italy
Some of the locals claim that this is where the original Pizza Margherita was created in 1870. You will most likely wait over an hour to get a table or pizza - but it is absolutely worth it. Each pizza is only 5 euros! Since the euro and dollar are equal today that means you can get one of the best pizzas in the world for only $5. I recommend grabbing 3 Pizza Marinara's since the line is so long and it's that good. Thank me later.
O Grin - Via Mezzocannone, 83, 80134 Napoli NA, Italy
Daytime vegan cafe offering plant-based pastas, wraps, burgers & pastries in a snug, basic setting.
Vitto Pitagorico - Piazza Museo, 15, Via Enrico Pessina, 55, 80135 Napoli NA, Italy
They offer a wide selection of vegan food including fresh house made pastas and a 4-cheese vegan pizza! This spot takes pride in making vegan components from scratch. Their desserts also include gluten-free panna cotta and raw lava cakes.
Officina Vegana - Via Sedile di Porto, 71, 80134 Napoli NA, Italy
This restaurant offers vegan pasta, panini, salads, and seitan dishes. Make sure to try their semifreddo and tiramisu.
Macelleria Vegetariana Italia (Vegetarian Butcher Shop) - Via Belvedere, 11, 80127 Napoli NA, Italy
They are the first vegetarian butcher in Italy and produce fresh vegetarian and vegan products with the classic shapes of the products of Italian cuisine, such as burgers, meatballs, cutlets, meatballs, sausages etc.
SENSI - Via Pietro Comite, 4, 84011 Amalfi SA, Italy
You cannot visit Amalfi and not visit this restaurant. They serve a 6 course vegan tasting menu called "ESPERIENZA NATURALE" which doesn't contain sugar, salt, wheat, or milk. They use natural ingredients that contain salty & sweet flavors as well as ingredients that behave like wheat and milk. Immaculate atmosphere and service.
Pasticceria Savoia - Via Matteo Camera, 2, 84011 Amalfi SA, Italy
This is a cake shop filled with many other pastries and a gelato station. They have a few selections of vegan gelato.
Il Pianeta Del Gelato - Via Lorenzo D'Amalfi, 5, 84011 Amalfi SA, Italy
Go here for a classic Amalfi dessert called 'Sorbetto a Limone' which is Lemon Sorbet served in a hallowed out lemon. The ideal sweet for walking around and cooling off in the sun.
Da Gabrisa Restaurant & Wine Bar - Viale Pasitea, 221, 84017 Positano SA, Italy
Located in the Hotel Villa Gabrisa, this restaurant offers a nice vegan menu which includes: Zucchini Flowers filled with Potatoes, Lemon, and Mint as well as Fried Eggplant Pizza, a variety of pasta dishes, and Vegan Cheesecake.
Casa e Bottega - Viale Pasitea, 100, 84017 Positano SA, Italy
A great spot for breakfast with açaí and chai pudding. Go here for lunch to get spaghetti with pesto, a vegan rice bowl, hummus with raw vegetable crudité and pita, or salad.
Latteria Mini market - Viale Pasitea, 67, 84017 Positano SA, Italy
This market has some amazing produce as well as a delicous vegan panino.
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