After exploring Lake Como, Venice, and Bologna, we arrived to our final stop in Italy: Rome. We spent our daytime hours visiting all of the major historical sites, but we of course also spent a decent amount of time exploring Rome’s vegan food scene.
As I mentioned in a recent post, we found it a bit challenging to navigate Italy’s more traditional restaurant scene in the small towns around Lake Como, but it was equally difficult in popular tourist destinations like Venice. The healthier plant-based aspects of the Mediterranean Diet that I was most looking forward to (fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains) represented the minority of the food options at most traditional Italian restaurants; however, Rome was a different story. Italy’s capital city has numerous vegetarian restaurants, all of which offer an array of healthy vegan dishes. Also, if you’re looking to enjoy a little vegan gelato, Rome is your go-to destination.
Here are the highlights:
- RistorArte Il Margutta
- CamBio Vita
RistorArte Il Margutta has been around since 1979 serving creatively prepared and beautifully presented vegetarian food. Founder Claudio Vannini’s mission back in the late 1970s was to provide a cultural center where he could share with others his love of nature and art as well as his respect for animals. RistorArte Il Margutta is located near Via dei Condotti, a street known for its high end boutiques and luxury brand storefronts. The restaurant’s trendy decor matches the surrounding area quite well.
We shared the three dishes below. Each was light and full of flavor, a very welcomed contrast to some of the heavier Italian food we encountered in our earlier Italian travels.
This vegan tagliolini with figs, Pachino tomato, and fresh basil was out of this world! I would never think to combine fresh fig with tomato, but it worked like a charm.
This pesto marinated tofu mille-feuille with courgettes, courgette flowers, and spicy guacamole can be ordered à la carte or as part of Il Margutta’s pre-fixe vegan menu.
This quinoa torte with string beans, courgettes, and radishes was served with a lime and paprika dressing. It was a simple dish, but what make it shine was the tangy-smokey flavor from the dressing.
We checked out CamBio Vita the day we arrived in Rome for a quick pick-me-up before venturing to the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain. What drew us in was the sign outside advertising the café’s organic AND vegan gelato.
We shared a small cup with one scoop of hazelnut and a second scoop of fresh fig. The hazelnut was soy-based and the fresh fig was made without any added sugar. This was an exciting find for us! We had gelato on a few occasions in Venice and Lake Como, but the fruit flavors tasted like artificially flavored candy, and the one soy-based, “soy” flavored gelato we tried tasted overly sweet and was likely made with non-organic soy milk.
The name CamBio Vita is a clever play on words. “Cambio” in Italian and Spanish comes from the root word that means “to change.” “Bio” translates to “organic” and “Vita” means “life.” The café’s owner desire to serve wholesome, organic food shines through in the café name but also in the way in which he engages his customers. He’s incredibly friendly and will likely want to learn a little more about you before you depart.
Still on a high from our afternoon vegan gelato at CamBio Vita, we ventured back to this cozy, modern café for dinner. The savory food offerings are pretty limited, but we thought the prepared salads and vegan tarts in the main display case would be more than enough for a light dinner. We each had the vegan roasted vegetable tart and a heart-shaped side of brown rice and vegetables served with pasta and a green salad. The vegetables were fresh and perfectly seasoned, and the meal left us feeling light and refreshed.
We even returned to CamBio Vita on our last day in Rome for a light lunch and some fresh juice.
This juice was loaded with fresh carrots, peaches, pineapple, and ginger. It was perfectly balanced — not too tart and not too gingery.
Bibliothè is a bookstore and café known for its Ayurvedic cuisine. The dishes are entirely vegetarian (mostly vegan) and full of organic, nutrient-rich ingredients. A sign outside advertises the food as “wholesome, nutritious, transformational, and revitalizing.” I’d say this is an accurate statement! With a menu full of soups, salads, dosas, badas, hummus and seasonal vegetable stews, we wished we had a few more days in Rome so we could return to Bibliothè for round two.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Ayurvedic Mediterranean platter (below). Not only was it beautifully presented, but the hummus, prepared with Indian spices, complemented the hot and cold salads perfectly.
I never expected Rome’s vegan scene to be so impressive and well-established, and we only scratched the surface. In fact, there are 18 entirely vegan and vegetarian restaurants in and around the city! I hope to get back to Rome sometime soon to explore the city’s quickly expanding vegan food scene.