With its emphasis on seasonal, local produce and the varied use of grains, legumes and fresh vegetables, the Mediterranean diet lends itself to vegetarian dining – though you wouldn’t necessarily know by looking at the typical menu in Rome. Dishes like carbonara, amatriciana, polpette and saltimbocca alla Romana make their appearance at nearly every trattoria, leaving vegetarian eaters with the choice of cacio e pepe or some contorni (side dishes). As a vegetarian for the past decade, I’ve dutifully eaten my way around the Eternal City and uncovered some excellent restaurants, bistrots and cafe that cater to meat-free diners – without compromising on flavor or satiety. Here are my 10 favorite vegetarian (or vegetarian-friendly) restaurants in Rome.
Part art gallery featuring emerging artists, Il Margutta is a restaurant that creates dishes that are as bright and eye-catching as the works on its walls. A stylish dining concept, Il Margutta has been serving vegetarian meals since 1979 and provides an innovative dining experience for those seeking a fresh take on Mediterranean cuisine. Everything from the vegetables and pastas to grains and salads are presented with artistic flair: wild strawberries are drizzled with a balsamic reduction and vegetable soufflés are propped up on a medley of mixed greens. I celebrated my first birthday in Rome at Il Margutta and it remains one of my favorite places to take vegetarian friends when they come to visit me in Rome because it strikes a nice balance between comfort and contemporary dining. The menu changes seasonally so you can always be sure to find fresh and tantalizing dishes to choose from.
For heartfelt recipes with a side of hygge, be sure to stop by Marigold, a restaurant and micro-bakery that brings a touch of Scandinavia to Rome’s Ostiense district. Marigold is a dream-come-true for Sofie Wochner, a Danish baker, and Domenico Cortese, a Calabrese chef, who had long hosted Rome’s foodie community at pop-up dinners in their home by way of “The Eatery”. Today, you will find them serving freshly baked cinnamon rolls, avocado toast with poached eggs and specialty coffees to an international clientele. With a focus on seasonality and a farm-to-table approach, there are always plenty of meatless options on the menu like like burrata with figs and melon or radicchio with baked pears and gorgonzola. Marigold is open daily for breakfast and brunch, and for dinner on the weekends.
Ginger Sapori e Saluti is undoubtedly one of the most popular healthy restaurants in Rome. With its bright, airy industrial interiors and fresh fruits and vegetables overflowing on the counters, it has LA vibes and a menu that will please jetsetters who crave hard-to-find dishes like Açai bowls, chopped salads and smoothies with spirulina. The first location near the Spanish Steps has long attracted the well-heeled who dine al fresco on gourmet sandwiches, fresh pasta dishes and colorful cold cuts: Ginger isn’t wholly vegetarian, with plenty of healthy meat and fish dishes, but it has a lot to choose from. Ravioli alla trapanese with sundried tomato pesto and almonds, veggie burgers served on beetroot bread and baguettes topped with porcini mushrooms, rocket and parmigiano are just some of the meat-free options that await.
Spazio Niko Romito
With three Michelin stars to his name, a celebrated cooking academy, a partnership with Bulgari Hotels, and a number of other projects, Niko Romito is not only one of Italy’s most eminent chefs, but also one of its most dynamic. Spazio fits right into this narrative: a contemporary restaurant-laboratory, it is an interdisciplinary space where students of the Accademia Niko Romito cooking school can experiment, grow and refine their culinary abilities. The restaurant serves contemporary Italian cuisine that highlights the core essence of its ingredients – while meticulous cooking techniques enhance their nutritional qualities. Look out for dishes like sautéed spring vegetables in celery and apple broth or roasted aubergine and sweet-and-sour tomato.
Ops! is a restaurant with a modern concept: this bistrot near Piazza Fiume serves up a bountiful buffet of Mediterranean vegan & vegetarian dishes in which you serve yourself and then pay by weight. At once casual and gourmet, it’s a great place for lunch in between meetings and has plenty of options to satisfy all appetites. The restaurant prides itself on reducing food waste and its popularity confirms a winning formula: omnivores and carnivores alike flock here for the tantalizing, rotating seasonal menu. You’ll find everything from sautéed, grilled, mashed and boiled vegetables to risotto with wild mushrooms, lasagna with seitan ragu to coconut curry with tofu. Ops! also holds a number of cooking classes.
Transcend the stress of daily life with some revitalizing tea or a candlelit Ayurvedic dinner in this magical and mystical space. BiblioThè is a hybrid of a library, art gallery, reading room and restaurant that hosts exhibits by international artists and organizes activities ranging from cooking classes and Sanskrit lessons to seminars on Vedic astrology and Ayurveda. I can tell you first-hand that the people it brings together couldn’t be nicer. United by a love for Indian philosophy, art, vegetarianism and healthy living, owners Enzo and Trina created this convivial place to share and further their knowledge of Indian culture and spirituality. Stepping in here is much like coming home, thanks to their effusive hospitality.
Dip into a tropical paradise with a smoothie or snack at this vibrant vegetarian café. Giuliana Alodi, originally from Brazil, has brought Amazonian flavors to the Italian capital, and Vitaminas 24 is one of the few places where you can find açai, maracujà and guarana on the menu. Try the cremolato (a mix between an icy granita and a creamy gelato) with papaya, cassis, milk and honey, and don’t miss the savory Brazilian pastries such as empanadas filled with cheese or the rissoles with seasonal vegetables. Most of the café’s products come from local cooperatives, while the fruits are sourced directly from the Amazon. With its large menu and daily specials, it’s a pleasing spot for a flavorful lunch or dinner.
Come Se Bar
This architecture gallery and café connects the neighborhood’s creative and socially conscious residents, and will give you a real feel for the pulse of San Lorenzo. Run by the magnanimous Rosetta Angelini, Come Se hosts exhibits and multidisciplinary events that combine architecture with other areas of art such as music, fashion or dance, while her husband, Luca Gennaioli, operates the kitchen. Supporting the community is one of their core tenets, and they aim to create positive ripple effects throughout their neighborhood, and society at large. The products served are from vendors near Rome who are vetted to ensure their attention to sustainable farming practices. Everything prepared here is also organic, balanced and nutritious – not to mention delish and at an extremely honest price point. Sample the bruschetta topped with various spreads and sprouts, vegetarian lasagna and brilliant bulgur salads.
It might be minuscule, but this organic eatery is always packed with a line out the door, and for good reason. Re-Bio has the tastiest salads in Rome, and the attention Fabio and his put into creating and customizing each sandwich, soup and freshly pressed juice can’t be beat. No matter how many people are waiting in line, they never fail to strike up a conversation and tailor each meal to your preference. Their enthusiasm for healthy, nutritious food is evident in the appetizing options that are bursting with health and flavor, from kamut rolls with artichoke spread, red cabbage and tomatoes to couscous with mint, beetroot and sunflower seeds. Show up early to grab a stool inside or take your lunch to go.
A gardening shop and eatery, Aromaticus is a verdant oasis that houses over 60 different types of fragrant herbs, not to mention adorable gardening equipment like growing kits and pastel watering cans. To me, stepping in here feels like a mental and physical detox in every sense of the word – perhaps it’s the higher concentration of oxygen in the air – and it’s a wonderful place to enjoy a freshly squeezed juice or light lunch to break up the carb monotony of Italian cuisine. The kitchen serves up a tantalizing assortment of salads and gazpachos in every color fathomable, delightfully topped with edible flowers and sprouts. There are also inspired tartares and carpaccios for more carnivorous appetites.
Looking for more dining inspiration? Check out my list of the 19 Restaurants To Try In Rome In 2019.