Vegan in Rome

I didn't make a particular effort to explore Rome's vegan offerings, but outside of pizza marinara and spaghetti pomodoro, I did eat at a couple of fantastic places worth writing about.

Ecru: All raw, all vegan, with a very extensive menu. It's north-west of the city center, near the Vatican and the river. There's power and wifi, but not much seating. I spent a couple of hours there early evening, recovering from a day of walking, and it wasn't busy. I shared lassi (cashew yoghurt), smoothie, two mains: seaweed spaghetti which was salty and filling, avocado tartare which was refreshing and came with crackers and vegetable rolls; and two desserts: almond granita, which was super creamy, and a grain-packed granola bar covered in chocolate.

Dharma Cakes: An entirely vegan bakery that understates it; seems like a normal bakery unless you know otherwise. Inside is spacious and a nice place to sit, with a play area for kids. While I was there, a parrot on a leash brought her two humans for lunch. I think she was a regular because one of the menus at my table had very recognisable beak marks, which I noted when I sat down, before the bird even showed up. Power but no wifi. A lunch and brunch menu, coffees with a variety of milk options, and of course an abundance of cake. I shared two to accompany an almond cappuccino, and two to go. Sugary, not the healthy kind, but delicious and varied.

Wadi: Another vegan bakery, but this one is upfront about it. South of the city, near the University area. I went here a couple of times as it was convienent from my conference. They usually have wifi, but their router was broken last week. There's power though; it's small, but nice to sit. The cakes are again not the healthy vegan variety, but change every day and there's a wide selection, at good prices. I had a chocolate doughnut twice in a row.. and also tried various small cookies, croissant and cake. They have some savoury offerings, including a pizza-like quiche with vegetable toppings, a pasty with aubergine, tomato and not-cheese inside, and eggplant parmesan. They make their cheese from coconut oil, lupin flour, water and salt, and it was really good. They have a few salads which I didn't try. Very friendly staff, who recommended that we try..

Le Bistrot: Half way between the University and the city center, more or less, this restaurant is more upscale and super cosy and homey inside. Three of us got extremely lucky to show up without calling ahead and get a table. Moments after we arrived, the rest of the place filled up and everyone seemed to have reservations. It was packed all evening, and with good reason. The food was spectacular. We each tried three starters: polenta with not-cheese, chickpea balls in tomato sauce, and spinach balls with mint yoghurt. They were very different, and each exceptional in their own way. We were all really impressed, and eagerly anticipated the main course. I sampled a French onion soup with vegetable dumplings, and roasted potatoes with cheese and porcini mushrooms. Delicious, but I wasn't quite as blown away as I had been by the starters. The third in our party ate vegetarian-but-not-vegan ravioli, which looked good but I don't have a first hand report. We wrapped up with coffees, and banana with chocolate sauce and cream, vegan tiramisu, and apple strudel. It was almost midnight by the time we were done, and the place was still full. The total (plus water) was 83.50EUR. One of the more expensive meals (at around three times what I normally pay..) but totally worth it. I would definitely go out of my way to return here to try other dishes if I'm in Rome again.

There's not really a shortage of non-white-flour-tomato vegan options in Rome anyway. I came upon a bakery in the center of a very touristy area, on a cute cobbled street, which had four kinds of vegan cake (I think it was called Dolce Vite). I tried the chocolate orange and it was great. Another time, I grabbed a vegetable panini and juice from Smart Food. Several times I passed places like Banco and Alice Pizza which have vegan menus, but I'd already eaten so I didn't try them. I didn't find a single gelateria which didn't have at least three flavours of vegan sorbet, and most have non-fruit gelato flavours in vegan options as well. Many of the wee local cafes, where one stops for a quick coffee or glass of wine, have vegan biscotti, biscuits, and sometimes cake. Sometimes it's labelled, sometimes not; always worth asking. Unimpressive looking chain cafes at places like train stations and bus stations usually do as well, and many carry soya milk. Vegan croissants (called brioche here, but they look like croissants) are not uncommon, and surprisingly good.

On other occasions, I tried to go to VeganEaty, but it was closed up, with no hours listed; and Salotto Caronte (not vegan, but supposed to have good vegan options) but that was also closed.

🏷 Rome, Italy vegan travel food