Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurants of Rome

Being vegetarian in Rome is still unusual, and don’t be surprised if you’re offered tuna at least once a day. But attitudes are slowly changing, and it’s getting easier to find more plant-based food options in less traditional restaurants and even a few dedicated vegan places.

While traditional Roman cuisine is heavy on meat, it’s also simple and seasonal. You’ll find plenty of pasta and side dishes celebrating the local harvest. 

Vegetarian Italian Classics

Italian menus are usually divided into antipasti (starters), primi (pasta, gnocchi, rice), secondi (main courses, usually meat or fish), and dolci (dessert). 

Vegetarian Starters

  • Bruschetta is a delicious vegetarian-friendly starter. As well as the classic tomato topping, you’ll often find other options, like artichoke or olive paste.

  • In artichoke (carciofi) season, they are often on the menu as a side dish, but they also make a great starter, especially carciofi alla giudia.

  • If you eat cheese, insalata caprese (caprese salad) proves that keeping it simple is the secret to the best Italian dishes.

  • For cheese lovers, a tagliere di formaggi (mixed cheese board) shared with friends can make a great starter. 

  • Fritti are a typical starter in pizzerie. Crocchette di patate, mozzarellini and supplì (check they are made with tomato sauce, not ragù) are ok for vegetarians to eat, Fiori di zucca and olive ascolane are not. Vegans should stick to bruschetta.

Vegetarian Primi

  • Most places will serve at least one vegetarian pasta, and if not, most ask them to whip you up a simple pasta al pomodoro, as they do for kids. 

  • A Roman take on a classic tomato sauce is used to make penne all’arrabbiata by adding a handful of dried chili peppers to the sauce. Don’t be surprised to find chilis on your plate. Just move them to one side, enjoy your pasta, then do as the Romans do and grab a piece of bread to soak up whatever sauce remains on the plate.

  • In Rome, gnocchi is traditionally served on Thursdays, often with tomato sauce. Also, look out for gnocchi alla romana, made with semolina, milk, and butter and topped with Parmesan.

  • Check out the piatti del giorno (dish of the day). You’ll often find pasta with local vegetables straight from the market.

Vegetarian Secondi

Hopefully, you’ll be full after your starter and pasta and won’t want another course, as there are unlikely to be any vegetarian-friendly options.  But if you’re still hungry, look at the contorni (side dishes). You can always order a couple of these.

Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurants in Rome

Il Margutta

Rome’s oldest vegetarian restaurant is located among the designer boutiques and art galleries of Rome’s high-end shopping district. Even the meat eaters in your life will be impressed by the creative vegetarian and vegan options at Il Margutta, which are packed with explosions of seasonal flavors.

Flower Burger 

A vegan fast-food joint near the Vatican. Their multicolored burgers are seriously photogenic if you don’t mind pink or purple buns. Options include chickpeas, kidney beans, and seitan burgers.

Rifugio Romano

Try vegan versions of traditional Roman dishes. Start with a vegan supplì, then take your pick from the four famous pastas:  carbonara, gricia, and amatriciana, all made with seitan and cacio e pepe with a vegan pecorino, or try a classic Roman diavola pizza, topped with vegan mozzarella and spicy seitan salami.


As an antidote to all the gelato, pizza, and pasta you’ve been eating since you got to Italy, try this raw vegan café not far from St. Peter’s. Lunch and dinner options include vegan kinds of pasta, burgers, and sushi, but you can stop by any time if you fancy a vegan cappuccino in the morning or a glass of wine and a cheese plate on your way home at night.

L’insalata Ricca

This Roman chain has an extensive menu of light Mediterranean options.

Although not exclusively vegetarian, you’ll find you have a wide choice of starters, kinds of pasta, large salad bowls, and pizza. Most salads on the menu come with cheese or egg, but vegans can request ingredients be substituted. Get a fresh focaccia with your salad.

100% Bio 

Close to the Piramide metro stop, this casual, organic eatery is popular with trendy locals and UN staff. Lunchtime is a self-service buffet of colorful salads, pastas, grains, and vegetable croquettes. Once you’ve loaded your plate, you are charged by the weight of your choice. It’s easy to overload the large plates when everything looks so delicious.


Roman pizza is super thin and crispy. Menus are divided into Pizza Rossa (red pizza), Pizza Bianca (white pizza), and Calzoni (folded pizza).

There’s usually a vegetariana pizza, topped with seasonal vegetables and mozzarella, though not all mozzarella is vegetarian. 

If you eat cheese, you’ll have plenty of choices. If you don’t, you can ask for the toppings of your choice. Or stick with a simple marinara (tomatoes, oregano, and basil).

Pizza al Taglio

Rome has the best pizza slices, though it’s sold by weight. The server will wave a pizza cutter around until you feel the slice is right for you, then cut off your slice and weigh it. Vegetarians usually find more choices here, including potato pizza and soft cheeses. 

Rome’s Green Markets: The Vegetarian’s Pantry

Farmer’s Market – Circo Massimo

On weekend mornings, locals and tourists fill the Campagna Amica market behind the Mouth of Truth. As well as seasonal produce, you can buy flowers, honey, bread, and cheese from local producers. From 12, stalls in the garden open for lunch serving pasta, freshly pressed juices, bruschetta, and other vegetarian options.

Campo dè Fiori 

Every morning (except Sunday), Campo dè Fiori is filled with market stalls selling fruits and vegetables, dried fruits and nuts, juice, flowers, and food-themed souvenirs. The market is very popular with visitors to Rome, and many cooking classes will start with a visit here to buy ingredients.

Testaccio Market

The purpose-built, modern market in Testaccio has become one of Rome’s top destinations for food tours. While locals are getting their shopping done, food guides introduce visitors to typical Roman dishes and products. 

Sweet Treats: Gelaterias and Pasticcerias

Roman sweets are generally fine for vegetarians, though you should check the ingredients on anything with pastry made with olive oil and not strutto (lard). 

Vegans will have a harder time as ricotta and pastry cream are common ingredients. 

Grezzo Raw Chocolate

Who would believe that lactose-free, gluten-free, vegan desserts could possibly taste so good? But at Grezzo, they do. They have 2 outlets, one in Monti (Via Urbana) and one in the Ghetto (Piazza Mattei), where you can do as the Romans do and treat yourself to a stroll with a gelato in the late afternoon. 

Tiramisù Trastevere

Just off Viale Trastevere, this tiny shop specializes in Italy’s most famous dessert. As well as classic tiramisu and variations with additional flavors or toppings, they also serve vegan, lactose-free, gluten-free, and decaf options.

Tips for Vegetarian Travelers in Rome

  • Watch out for alici (anchovies) that sneak onto pizzas and into pastas. You can ask for pizza senza alici, but this won’t work on everything.

  • If you’re ordering risotto, check that it was made with vegetable stock.

  • Pasta con fagioli might sound vegetarian-friendly, but the traditional recipe calls for the beans to be cooked with a bone, so it’s best to avoid it unless there’s a clear vegetarian symbol on the menu. 

  • Fritti are popular starters, but you’ll need to avoid the Fiori di zucca (fried pumpkin flowers) unless there’s a vegetarian version, as they contain anchovies and the olive ascolane, which are stuffed with meat.

  • Most cheese in Italy contains rennet (caglio in Italian). You can find some vegetarian cheeses in specialist shops – look for cheeses with caglio vegetale or choose dishes made with soft cheeses like ricotta or mascarpone, which don’t contain rennet.