A full plate at Ops! in Rome
I wondered. Would “vegan” be as widely understood, available and pleasurable in Rome as it as it was in Florence as noted in my previous blog post? Oh yes, it was!! The number of postings: senza glutton (gluten-free, even on pasta heavy menus was striking.
Vegano means vegan. Senza means without. “Which gelato is senza latte?”
- Senza Latte: Without Milk
- Senza Burro: Without Butter
- Senza Fromagio: Without Cheese
- Senaza Uova: Without Eggs
- Senaza Glutine: Without Gluten
Arriving in the bustling city of Rome was a bit of a shock after two plus weeks in the countryside and the smaller city of Florence, but our B &B, although well situated for sightseeing, was on a quiet street.
Following are of my top picks for Rome, the eternal city. Again, this is not an exhaustive list. If you’d list some of your favorites (and those you haven’t liked) in comments, we can grow this list.
Bed and Breakfast
Via Luigi Calamatta, 16 Rome
+39 346 7289930
Our host Valerio loves giving detailed information about his city to guests. He even suggested apps. Reserve directly with Valerio to for the best price. The rooms vary depending on where in the house they are but all are clean and comfortable with free wifi. You’ll find an espresso machine and refrigerator for the guests. This is a B without the B, but Valerio offers coupons for breakfast in a café across the street. I declined and he adjusted the cost. I was happier to find a more authentic cafe for breakfast, after I’d had my first morning espresso in my room.
Vegan Dining in Rome
Grezzo Raw Chocolate
Via Urbana, 130 Rome
+39 06 483443
You’ll find fair-trade, vegan, raw chocolates, desserts, gelato, smoothies and more at Greezo. My first stop in Rome, on the way to dinner no less, was the to the highly touted Greezo Raw Chocolate shop. I was hungry after traveling and excited to find smoothies with nutri-bombs like maca, lacuma, goji berries on the menu. My first smoothie since leaving the States more than two weeks earlier did the trick and refreshed. I tasted small bites of vegan raw chocolates from 65 to 85% and one that was 99%. All were much smoother than most of the raw chocolates I’d tasted previously. Since I was looking forward to dinner at Ops!, I stopped at those little bites. We’d hoped to meet Patrizia, who is lead pastry chef and instructor at the Grezzo culinary school but she wasn’t there. This is where small world in Italy came into play. Who walked in but the co-owner and executive chef, Vito Cortese with his partner. They were on their way to vacation and wanted to get provisions for their journey. He looked at Benay and me and asked, “Are you the pastry chef from U.S.?” In no time, Vito made the rest of our dinner reservations in Rome. He said Magarite is a must, but it was closed for vacation. August is tricky in Rome. Vito’s partner (how have I forgotten her name?) asked if we’d liked our dessert at Brac in Florence. Surprised by the question, I replied, yes, it was a chocolate mousse cake that was not on the menu. Laughing, she revealed that she is the pastry chef at Brac and had made our dessert. Clearly, wherever you are in the world, you connect with everyone you are meant to meet. We went back later in the week to Grezzo for gelato. The hazelnut and pistachio were my favorites. I went back again after Benay left, to purchase a big box of desserts and confections for sampling. Each of the chocolate confections was a jewel and a treat and my tart was as luscious as it was exquisite.
Raw Pastries at Grezzo in Rome
Raw brownies at Grezzo in Rome
Hazelnut and Pistachio Vegan Gelato
With Chef Vito of Grezzo Rome
Ops! Cucina Mediterranea
Via Bergamo 56 Roma, Rome
+39 06 8411769
We ate at Ops! twice, and I almost went back a third time on my last night. I love this concept. First you are seated and and the menu is explained. You look over the two tiers of platters of food on the buffet, pick up a large dinner plate and fill it with as much or as little as you’d like. All the dishes are vegan, and gluten free choices are clearly marked. It is impossible to choose just a little. Your plate is weighed and you choose your beverage. How a glass of excellent bio wine was only 3 Euros, I have no idea, but I’d have ordered a second glass anyway if the price had been higher. The overflowing plate pictured – well, I couldn’t help myself. How I ate it all is testament to how good everything tasted. I rarely eat risotto, but this one was so perfectly cooked that I ate it on both of my visits. I was glad that my iPhone showed 10 miles of walking that day! Make sure you make reservations before you go.
Section of Buffet at Ops! Rome
Another full plate of food at Ops!
At Ops! Rome with the chef
Romeow Cat Bistro
Via Francesco Negri 15, Rome
+39 06 57289203
Romeow Cat Bistro Rome
Really? A cat cafe? Since both Benay and I are allergic to cats, we had reservations about our reservation here. There was no need to worry and we’d have missed a very special experience if we had passed. The unusual modern space is charming. You’ll find cooked, raw, and gluten-free dishes on the menu, as well as smoothies, green drinks, wine and spirits, and desserts. Everything is vegan, organic and seasonal. Benay and I shared the raw tasting plate (winner!) and I scarfed the eggplant burger (amazing). We had many side vegetables dishes; nice bitter greens and roasted potatoes among them. We ordered just one dessert, the raw tiramisu, as we had eaten so much, but owner Valentina insisted the mango tart was a must taste. She was right. The cats climb the walls to perch on books and drawers that float from the walls. Not only were we not affected, we found the entire scene adorable. The upstairs loft is cozy with lots of banquettes. Go! Reserve!
Romeow is decorated with cat art and real cats
Vegan Eggplant Burger
Raw Vegan Rolls
Raw Vegan Tasting Plae
With Romeow Cat Bistro owner Valeria
Gelato in Rome
There are many gelato shops in Rome. Expect long lines of people waiting to order at the artisan shops. Most of them have vegan gelato in flavors other than fruit sorbet. Avoid the commercially made soy gelato. I didn’t like any of the ones I tasted.
Via Tomacelli, 26
+39 06 6871037
Vicere for Gelato in Rome
My absolute favorite shop for gelato in Rome was Vicere. The blood orange gelato made me weep. My first cup was a combination of the blood orange and deep chocolate, and it was a transporting experience. The staff was lovely, especially Giacometti Chiara. Tastes are encouraged.
The Food Hall at La Rinascente Department Store
Via Roma 143
EAT is a food market and restaurant/café with plenty of vegan options.
EAT is a food market and café. I found plenty of vegan and gluten-free options for a sit down lunch, groceries and take out. They offer free wifi.
Vegan Cookies in Rome
Packaged Vegan Sweets in Rome
Random places we saw on the way to here and there speak to the ease of plant based eating in Roma! From pizzarias, to sandwich shops and juice bars, plant-based eaters will be happy.
There are many and it’s easy to find lists. Wander enough and you’ll bump into one.
Campo dei Fiori
Piazza Campo de’ Fiori
+39 06 0608
Campo dei Fiori is held every morning except Sunday.
Held every morning except Sunday, Campo dei Fiori is definitely packed with tourists, but you’ll still find plenty of locals who frequent the market daily. Located in the the centro storico, this is one of the oldest markets in Rome – open since 1869. Wander through the stalls, and you will definitely learn what fruits and vegetables are in season. Pasta, oils, products of the regions, hats, clothing, jewelry are found too. Stop and have an espresso, cold drink or snack at any one of the cafes in the square. It’s near the Ponte Sisto towards Travestere.
Campo dei Fiori is one of the oldest markets in Rome.
I carried my Naomi GUNAS bag everywhere I went in Italy, day and night. It’s stylist and practical — it holds so much! To celebrate my trip to Italy, I have a GUNAS Melrose bag (worth $250!) for one lucky winner this week. Follow the instructions below to enter. U.S. residents only, please. GUNAS asks that the winner post a selfie of you with your bag on your Facebook page and write a review of your new bag on GUNAS’s Facebook page. The winner will be able to pick the bag’s color. Contest ends at midnight eastern time on September 24th.
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