Your Vegan Dining Guide to Central Rome

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Your Vegan Dining Guide to Central Rome

The vegan Rome dining scene is a bit of a paradox.

On the one hand, there are more than 20 vegan restaurants in Rome, which sounds like it would be a vegan paradise.

The trouble is, almost all of those vegan Rome restaurants are way out in the suburbs – which is not where you want to be. In addition to being devoid of places of interest to tourists, those suburbs can also be difficult to reach, thanks to the inadequacies of Rome’s subway system.

Take a look at this map of vegan restaurants in Rome, courtesy of HappyCow.

Vegan Rome Restaurants in the City Centre
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See that red circle in the middle? That’s where you’re going to be when you visit Rome, because that’s where all the good stuff is.

The Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps … you get the idea. All those iconic places that you’ve come to see, plus many more that you’ve never heard of, are right there in the city center, or what’s known in Italian as the centro storico.

As you can see on the map, there’s not a single green leaf symbol inside that circle.

So, does eating vegan in Rome mean trekking out to the suburbs for every meal? Absolutely not!

I’ve been to Rome countless times, and I’ve never even visited most of the city’s vegan restaurants. That’s because I’m usually hanging out with non-vegan friends who live in the city center.

And even when I let my friends choose the restaurant, no matter where we go I can always find something vegan.

Vegan food in Italy is actually really easy to come by, because Italian cuisine is by its very nature quite vegan-friendly.

Eating vegan in Italy doesn’t mean going to specialty restaurants that serve quinoa and goji berries.

You can find vegan dishes on the menu in pretty much any restaurant in Rome. And these are not token vegan dishes that restaurant owners have added just to draw in vegan customers.

Instead, they are authentic, local specialties that Romans themselves eat every day. So that’s what I’m going to focus on in this guide – real vegan Italian food.

No raw cuisine, no vegan burger joints. Just authentic vegan Italian food done right – the Italian way.

Well, OK, if you really must have a veggie burger in a pink bun for your Instagram, then go to Flower Burger. I won't judge. It's on Via dei Gracchi near the Vatican, and the burgers are alright. But if you came to Italy to eat Italian food, keep reading.

And if you'll also be visiting other places in Italy, be sure to read my ultimate guide to vegan Italian food.

Vegan Rome: Guide to Eating in The City Center

Normally, I divide my vegan city guides into three sections: vegan restaurants, vegetarian restaurants and vegan-friendly restaurants.

This time, there will be no “Vegan Restaurants Rome” section, because, as we’ve seen, there are no vegan restaurants in Rome’s city center. So let’s jump straight into the vegetarian restaurants in Rome.

Vegetarian Restaurants Rome​​​​

Actually, there aren’t many vegetarian restaurants in the city center either, but there is one that's worth mentioning.

Il Margutta

Il Marguta - vegetarian restaurants Rome

Established in 1979, this is the oldest vegetarian restaurant in Rome, and it’s a bit of an institution. On weekdays, they have a brunch buffet for 15 euros that includes water and a dessert. It’s not all you can eat, but you’re allowed to fill one soup bowl and one large plate.

The vegan options are clearly marked, and there are plenty of them. You can check the daily menu on the website to see exactly which dishes will be included in the buffet.

Il Margutta is located near Piazza del Popolo and has a classy atmosphere. It’s good value for a weekday lunch, but the weekend menu is much more expensive.

Vegan-Friendly Restaurants Rome

Rifugio Romano

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Rifugio Romano - vegan restaurants Rome
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This has become my favorite restaurant in Rome, and I try to eat there at least once every time I visit the city. It’s in an unlikely location, near Termini train station. This area is certainly not known for its high culinary standards, but Rifugio Romano is the exception.

Rifugio Romano is a fantastic traditional Roman trattoria with an extensive vegan menu that includes lots of veganized traditional Roman dishes, such as supplì, spaghetti alla carbonara, pennette alla vodka, and even tiramisu.

They also have several types of pizza and calzone with vegan cheese and vegan meats. There are so many vegan options to choose from, you could eat every meal here for a week and you still wouldn’t make it through the whole vegan menu. The house wine is pretty good too.

Emma - vegan-friendly restaurant in Rome

Another traditional restaurant and pizzeria, this one doesn’t have quite as many vegan options, but the quality of the food is good and the location is very central, in between Campo de’ Fiori and Largo di Torre Argentina.

The vegan options are clearly marked and include focaccia with grilled vegetables, bruschetta with sun-dried tomatoes and a traditional Sicilian caponata. There’s even a vegan option in the secondo piatto section of the menu, which is traditionally reserved for meat and fish dishes.

Insalata Ricca

Insalata Ricca - restaurants in Rome

This very successful local restaurant chain has about 10 different locations all over Rome. The most conveniently located ones for tourists are the two in Piazza Pasquino and Largo dei Chiavari. I prefer Piazza Pasquino, as it’s tucked down a side street near Piazza Navona and is very atmospheric at night.

Start your meal with a mix of vegan bruschetta, with toppings such as tomato, artichoke cream and olive tapenade. They also have a vegan antipasto mixed plate.

Insalata Ricca is famous for its large, meal-sized salads, several of which are vegan. Just ask for oil and vinegar instead of the regular house dressing, which contains honey and anchovies. They also serve a number of traditional Roman pasta dishes that happen to be vegan, like arrabbiata and aglio, olio e peperoncino.

Want to Taste These Italian Delicacies for Yourself?

In September 2020, I'll be leading a small group of vegan and vegcurious travelers around Italy. Together we'll experience all the country's sights, sounds, smells and tastes. I'd love for you to join us!


The tour will cover the iconic sights of Rome, Florence and Venice. 

​​​​Want to know more?

Click here to learn more about the tour

Buddy - Pinsa Romana

This is a great place to go for dinner, when you’ll be able to try the full menu, which includes vegan options for all four courses of a traditional Italian menu (antipasto, primo, secondo and dolce). Buddy is also the perfect place to try pinsa romana – a local tradition that actually pre-dates the pizza invented in Naples.

Pinsa has become a growing food trend in recent years. It’s considered to be healthier than pizza, because the dough is made from a mix of wheat, soy and rice flours. Buddy offers a couple of vegan pinsa with some unusual toppings.

At lunch time, a buffet is served, but if you want to be sure of having plenty of vegan options then it’s best to come for dinner instead.

Origano

Origano restaurant vegan in Rome

Origano is one of the best places to eat vegan in Rome

This is one of my favorite places to eat in Rome’s centro storico. The vegan options are clearly marked, and it seems like each time I go back they’ve added more vegan dishes. 

On my most recent visit, five of the eight dessert options were vegan, so they really are incredibly vegan friendly! Don’t miss the chocolate mousse; it’s to die for.

As for savory dishes, Origano offers pizza with vegan cheese, and their dough is thicker than typical Roman pizza. They also have veganized versions of several traditional primi piatti (first course dishes), including lasagna, gnocchi alla sorrentina and spaghetti alla carbonara.

I’ve only ever been to their Campo de’ Fiori location, but there’s another one just a short walk away near the Trevi Fountain. The menu seems to differ slightly between the two locations. 

Although, on my last visit, it turned out that the menu posted online was not the most updated one anyway, and I found lots more vegan dishes than what I was expecting.

For some reason the Campo de’ Fiori location no longer offers caponata, which is a real shame because it was one of the best caponata I’d ever tasted anywhere, including in Sicily where the dish originated. According to the online menu, they do still have it at the Trevi Fountain location, so it might be worth heading there to seek it out.

Giggetto

Giggetto - carciofi alla giudia in Rome Jewish Ghetto

Rome’s Jewish ghetto has a reputation as being one of the best areas of the city to go for a nice meal. As the heart of the Jewish community, it’s also the place to go if you’re looking for a kosher restaurant.

While Giggetto is not kosher, it has an unbeatable location right next to the ancient Roman ruin of the Portico d’Ottavia. It’s also a third-generation, family-run business that’s been operating since 1923, so they must be doing something right.

Don’t miss the carciofi alla giudia, a local delicacy of fried artichokes. The artichoke is deep-fried in its entirety, turning its otherwise inedible outer leaves into a crispy treat.

The menu changes with the seasons, but other vegan options usually include penne all’arrabbiata and some type of soup. You may also come across a chef’s special such as fave al tegame (fava beans cooked in a saucepan).

Like most restaurants in the ghetto, Giggetto is a bit pricier than what you’ll find elsewhere, but you’re paying for the atmosphere.

Taverna della Scala

Taverna della Scala - vegan restaurant in Trastevere

Trastevere is the trendy neighborhood on the far side of the Tiber River, and in fact the name means “across the Tiber” in Italian. It’s known as a place that’s full of great restaurants where locals go to taste traditional favorites.

Taverna della Scala is one of the more vegan-friendly of Trastevere’s many restaurants, and the staff are welcoming and willing to accommodate. I recommend the bruschetta with tomatoes and arugula as a starter. Or, if you don't plan to eat in the Jewish ghetto (see Giggetto above), this is also a good place to try carciofi alla giudia.

Other vegan options include a penne all’arrabbiata that’s spicier than most, as well as pasta e ceci and pasta e fagioli (just ask the staff to use egg-free pasta in these dishes).

Humus Bistrot

Humus Bistrot - vegan Rome

This relative newcomer on the Roman food scene is one of few places that offers healthy, high-quality food near the Roman Forum – an area dominated by overpriced tourist traps.

While the prices at Humus are still a bit higher than usual, the cuisine is inventive, and the ambience is refreshingly unique. One look at the peacock mural on the wall, and you’ll know this is not your typical Roman trattoria.

The food is actually a fusion of Sardinian cuisine and international flavors. And, as you've probably guessed, hummus is a main feature on the menu.

There are not quite as many vegan options as you might expect from a place called Humus, but several dishes can be adapted on request. I loved the fregola, which is a Sardinian specialty of semolina dough rolled into small ball shapes a bit larger than couscous. Here, the fregola is toasted and served with cherry tomatoes and a citrus pesto (just ask for no cheese).

Also on the menu is a lasagna made from the typical Sicilian bread pane carasau, and this can also be made vegan upon request. I’ll definitely be trying it on my next visit!

Vegan Gelato Rome

In case you haven’t heard, most ice cream shops in Italy serve vegan gelato. At the very least, the fruit flavors will usually be sorbets, which are made without any milk.

And it’s increasingly common for gelaterie to offer other flavors (like chocolate or hazelnut) made with plant-based milk. Here are some of my favorite gelaterie in Rome if you’re looking for more than just fruit-flavored gelato.

Blue Ice

Blue Ice vegan gelato Rome

This local chain has several locations throughout the city and has long been a favorite of mine. The portions are huge, and the gelato is delicious. It’s still best for its fruit flavors, but it does usually have one or two other vegan flavors too, such as chocolate or almond.

They now also serve cones that are marked as vegan and gluten free.

Olive Dolci

Olive Dolci - vegan gelato Rome

If you want a wide range of vegan gelato flavors, Olive Dolci is the place to go. This gelateria is 100% vegan! Their gelato is made from olive oil, which sounds weird, I know.

To be perfectly honest, it’s probably not my favorite gelato in town, but I love the fact that they have lots of funky flavors to choose from. And of course, it’s great to support a fully vegan company.

CamBioVita

CamBio Vita - vegan gelato

This place gets my vote for the best vegan gelato in Rome. They may not have a ginormous variety, but what they do, they do right. In addition to the usual fruit flavors, you’ll also find a mind-blowing dark chocolate flavor and a bounty flavor.

Bounty, as in the chocolate-covered coconut bar. It’s a coconut-milk-based gelato that is out of this world. Best of all, they have three different kinds of vegan cones! You can choose from a regular sugar cone, a sugar cone with chocolate dipping around the rim, or a large waffle cone.

Just keep in mind that they may not have these flavors on the day you visit. Last time I went there, I was distraught to see there was no Bounty, but the helpful woman behind the counter managed to find some in the back for me. They did have a salted caramel flavor, though, which also looked good.

While CamBio Vita used to be a vegetarian restaurant, they now do only gelato and other desserts, so don’t be confused by the old reviews on HappyCow talking about savory dishes.

Grezzo

Grezzo - raw vegan gelato

Grezzo specializes in raw chocolate desserts, all of which are vegan and free of gluten and refined sugar. The high quality of their ingredients is matched by their high prices, so I don’t go there that often.

The gelato is by far the best-value item on the menu though, starting at three euros for a cone with two scoops. They make the gelato from cashew milk, which gives it a rich if slightly grainy texture.

Grezzo has a nice range of flavors, including almond and gianduia. And it’s conveniently located on Via Urbana, just down the street from Trieste Pizza (see below).

Gelateria dell’Angeletto

vegan gelato Rome

This is definitely some of the riches, most decadent vegan gelato Rome has to offer!

I discovered this gelateria near the Cavour metro station on my latest visit to Rome, and it just may challenge CambioVita for the title of my favorite gelateria in Rome. They offer a good variety of vegan flavors, which are easy to identify by the blue handle of the scoop.

In addition to dark chocolate and dark chocolate with rum, they even have a “vegan nut cream” flavor that tastes exactly like Nutella! Only the problem is, it doesn’t taste like Nutella-flavored gelato. It tastes like straight up Nutella poured into an ice cream cone.

I’m a huge Nutella fan, but this was too rich even for me. I actually started to feel sick and had to throw most of the cone away, which is something I’ve never done in my life. 

If they would make a mix of ⅓ vegan nut cream and ⅓ chocolate or vanilla gelato, I bet it would be magical. Since you can choose up to three flavors when you order the 4.50 euro cone, I suggest asking for two other flavors and just a small dollop of vegan nut cream on top. I’ll definitely be trying this next time I’m in town.

Vegan Pizza Rome – Pizza Vegana Roma

I’ll be honest – I’m not a huge fan of Roman pizza. The crust is much too thin and breaks apart too easily. It almost feels like eating a cracker rather than a pizza.

If that sounds like your thing, then you’re in luck. You’ll find this thin-style pizza at almost any pizzeria in Rome, including two of the restaurants listed above (Emma and Rifugio Romano).

For me, though, nothing beats the thick, doughy crust of a Neapolitan pizza. Naples is where pizza was first created, after all, and it’s still the home of the best pizza in the world. For the full experience, you should really go to Naples to try it there yourself.

But if that’s not an option, there are a couple of places in Rome that make pizza in the Neapolitan style, and theirs is almost as good.

Napoli-Style Pizza

Pizza Forum

Pizza marinara - vegan pizza

From the outside it might look like all the other tourist traps behind the Colosseum, but it’s run by a Neapolitan family and has been in business for more than 40 years. The pizza here is highly regarded by the locals, or at least by those who prefer a thicker crust than what’s typically found in Rome.

And Pizza Forum has been certified by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, which means that you can be sure their dough is made according to the traditional recipe with just flour, water, yeast and salt -- no extra ingredients like milk or lard.

To taste pizza as it was originally invented in Naples, go for the pizza marinara. This pizza is normally vegan, but for some reason Pizza Forum adds anchovies to theirs, so ask for it without those. The vegetarian pizzas are marked on the menu and can be made without cheese on request.

There are a few pasta dishes on the menu that are already vegan or can be made so on request, but you should really try the pizza when you’re here.

Rossopomodoro

Rossopomodoro vegan pizza Rome

Rossopomodoro serves incredible vegan pizza in Rome -- with melty mozzarella cheese!

This is an Italian chain that serves authentic Neapolitan pizza in several locations around the country, including Largo Argentina in Rome. At first glance, there don’t seem to be many vegan options on the menu, but don’t be fooled.

Cow’s milk mozzarella cheese can be substituted on any pizza with mozzarisella, a vegan mozzarella made with rice milk. And oh my goodness, this stuff is amazing! It melts well and comes in round slices like Italian mozzarella, not grated like most other vegan cheeses used for pizza.

Although getting it to melt at exactly the right time is a fine art when the pizza is in the oven for less than two minutes total. I’ve had varying degrees of meltiness, so it depends on the skills of the pizzaiolo manning the oven.

And of course, you can always order the pizza marinara, which is the original pizza created in Naples and is already naturally vegan, since it doesn’t come with cheese. 

In addition, Rossopomodoro has another cheeseless pizza on the menu that it calls the pizza boscaiola. This one is topped with garlic, black olives, oregano, mushrooms and two different types of fresh tomatoes. The dough is a mix of whole wheat and Venere black rice, so it’s also a healthier option.


While Roman and Neapolitan are the two main types, there are other kinds of vegan pizza available in Rome too. Here are some I recommend:

Trieste-Style Pizza (umm, sort of)

Trieste Pizza

Trieste Pizza

Trieste is a lovely city in the far northeastern corner of Italy. But that's not where this pizza comes from.

These small, round, individual-size pizzas were invented in the 1950s in the popular seaside holiday town of Pescara, at a beach resort named ... wait for it ... Trieste.

At their Rome branch on Via Urbana, there are three vegan options, plus lots of vegetarian options that can be made with no cheese on request.

The pizzas are made to order while you wait. It's mostly a takeaway joint, but there is a bit of seating in a pleasant, casual atmosphere.

The crust is quite crispy and is different form both the Roman and Neapolitan styles of pizza.

Pizza al Taglio

Pizza al taglio - vegan pizza Rome

Pizza al taglio is a tradition that began in Rome and later spread throughout the rest of the country. And yet, despite being Roman in origin, it’s very different from the round Roman-style pizzas that you get in a pizzeria.

While the round ones are for eating with a knife and fork while sitting down at a proper restaurant, pizza al taglio is for eating on the go. You can think of it as the original Italian fast food.

It’s more of a street food snack than a full meal, though of course you can always make a cheap meal out of it just by ordering more.

The pizzas are baked in large rectangular tins and then cut to be whatever size slice you want. You pay by weight, so keep that in mind when deciding how large you want the server to cut your slice.

You’ll typically find at least one or two vegan options at a pizza al taglio place, such as a pizza marinara or a white pizza (without tomato sauce) with potatoes and rosemary.

Pizza al taglio joints come and go, and there are dozens of them around Rome, but these are the current ones recommended by my friends who live in the city.

Alice

La Boccaccia

Pizza Zazà

Bonci

Vegan Breakfast in Rome

vegan breakfast Rome

The typical vegan breakfast in Rome is a coffee and croissant

There are a couple of things you need to know about breakfast in Rome, and in Italy in general. First of all, for Romans breakfast is a very quick affair that’s usually consumed standing up, at the counter of one of the city’s many bars.

Italian bars are not really for drinking alcohol, although they do serve alcoholic drinks. What they’re mostly for is drinking coffee. And coffee, by which I mean a little thimble of espresso, is the most important part of an Italian breakfast.

If it’s accompanied by food at all, this is usually something small and sweet. Italians don’t really do savory in the morning, and they are grossed out by the thought of eating eggs for breakfast. Hey, so am I!

Croissants, known as cornetti in Italian, are by far the most popular Italian breakfast food. The good news is, vegan croissants (cornetti vegani) have become quite common in Italy in recent years.

Lots of bars will have them, and it’s worth asking even if you don’t see any marked as vegan. Soy milk for coffee is also not too hard to find these days. 

Most of the time, the vegan option is just a plain croissant. However, there’s one bar in Trastevere that usually has a large variety of vegan croissants and other vegan pastries.

Caffè Trastevere

vegan pastry for breakfast in Rome

This apple-filled vegan pastry was a nice change from the typical vegan croissant

Despite the word “caffè” in the name, this is a typical Italian bar that can get quite packed with locals in the morning. While they do have a sign advertising that they sell vegan pastries, for some reason they don’t mark them as vegan, so you’ll need to ask which ones are vegan.

Just say the word “vegano” and the staff will understand. The offerings change every day, but when I visited they had half a dozen different vegan pastries. I chose a croissant with apple pie filling, which was a refreshing change from the usual plain croissants, and good value at just one euro.

While locals usually just stand at the counter, there are a few tables where you can sit outside facing the busy Viale di Trastevere. I haven’t done this, but I assume there’s an additional charge, as that’s usually how it works in Italian bars. They do also have soy milk for coffee drinks.

La Licata

La Licata vegan breakfast in Rome

The vegan breakfast at La Licata includes a sampling of different pastries.

Another good place for breakfast is La Licata, a typical Italian bar in the Monti district on one of my favorite streets in Rome, Via dei Serpenti. Their set vegan breakfast includes a variety of different pastries, fruit juice and a coffee drink of your choice, with plant based milk, of course.

Best Place to Stay in Rome

Roman Enchantment

best play to stay in Rome - Roman Enchantment

This small, family-run guesthouse is a great place to stay in Rome

On our last visit to Rome, Nick and I stayed at a family-run hotel with just five rooms called Roman Enchantment, and we really loved it. The owners are very welcoming, and it’s in a quiet location in the San Giovanni neighborhood.

It’s the perfect mix of being in an authentic neighborhood away from all the tourism hubbub, yet still within easy walking distance of Rome’s main sights. The price was also extremely reasonable. For budget-minded travelers, I highly recommend it.

Click here to see more photos and read reviews of Roman Enchantment

Bio Hotel Raphael

If you’re looking for something a little more luxurious, the Bio Hotel Raphael could be just the place for you. While I haven’t stayed here myself, I’ve heard great things about this historic five-star deluxe hotel right in the heart of Rome’s city center.

You can also enjoy fine dining with a view at the vegetarian restaurant on the hotel rooftop.

Click here to see photos and read reviews of Bio Hotel Raphael

Want to Taste These Italian Delicacies for Yourself?

In September 2020, I'll be leading a small group of vegan and vegcurious travelers around Italy. Together we'll experience all the country's sights, sounds, smells and tastes. I'd love for you to join us!

​​​Click here to find out more.

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Guide to Eating Vegan in Rome, Italy's City Centre

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About Wendy Werneth

Intrepid traveler, vegan foodie and animal lover. I uncover vegan treasures all around the world, so you can be vegan anywhere and spread compassion everywhere.

6 Comments

  1. Hi Wendy! Bellisima! We spent March in the Monte district near the Colliseum. We found it only slightly daunting the first few times to order food vegetariana and sans fromage. As you’ve illustrated, it’s entirely possible and a great experience to eat real Italian delicacies in real osterias or ristorantes! We can vouch for the potato pizza al taglio offered at Alice in the Jewish Quarter. We also wish to mention Il Gelatone and Fatamorgana for vegan gelato. We discovered that many gelaterias sell chocolate fondant gelato which is vegan as well as incredibly decadent.

    Pinning your guide for our next trip to Rome!

    • Hi Barbara,
      I’m glad you were able to enjoy authentic Italian food in Rome! And thanks for those recommendations. I’ve heard lots of good things about Alice, so I’ll have to check it out when I’m back in Rome this May.

  2. Visiting Rome in the future and was a bit worried given the HappyCow map. This is such great information and I cannot wait to try so many places listed here! Thank you!

  3. Hi Wendy, great guide! I’m going to Rome tomorrow for the weekend but I speak literally no Italian, will the restaurants you’ve listed understand vegan without me needing to explain in Italian? Looking forward to it!

    • Hi Chris!
      Yes, I think the staff at pretty much all of these restaurants will understand what vegan means. In Italian the word is very similar: “vegano” if you identify as male and “vegana” if you identify as female. You could always download the Vegan Passport app as a backup just in case. Have a great time in Rome!

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