Vegetarian in Italy

Old Aug 4th, 2006, 09:21 AM
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Vegetarian in Italy

As a vegetarian will I be encountering problems when dining in Italy? We'll be visiting Rome, Florence and the CT. Thanks for any info!!
Pennywise3 is offline  
Old Aug 4th, 2006, 09:27 AM
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I don't think you'd have more problems than any other place. Do you eat cheese? Because caprese salads (mozzarella and tomatoes) are on just about every menu we encountered in Italy. There are also great appetizers with interesting vegetables, like squash blossoms. Will you eat sauce or soup that might have meat broth? If you do, that opens up lots of cheese-stuffed pastas, pizzas, soups.
Old Aug 4th, 2006, 09:31 AM
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I'm guessing you'll find it easier in the casual places (pizza, pasta, salads) than fancier restaurants where main dishes offered would more likely be meat, poultry, fish.

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Old Aug 4th, 2006, 09:36 AM
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Most restaurants will have something for you, and, if not, they will be happy to alter an item (for example by leaving the cheese off). Pastas, pizzas and salads are everywhere and, like I said, will be made to your specifications. While I don't eat beef, chicken, veal or pork, I do eat fish, and that opens up a lot for me. Carbs and salad does get dull after a while.

Check out "The Happy Cow" website and search for the cities you mentioned, and you will no doubt find specifically vegetarian places as well as vegetarian friendly places to choose from
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Old Aug 4th, 2006, 09:37 AM
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Old Aug 4th, 2006, 10:01 AM
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Italy is perhaps the easiest place to dine vegetarian. Pastas are on almost every menu, great salads, and pizza. Even if you do not eat dairy you will be fine. Florence has Il Vegetariano, and Rome has Arancia Blu, both strictly vegetarian restaurants. But you will do fine at most regular restaurants
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Old Aug 4th, 2006, 11:59 AM
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In Rome try Il Margutta. It is a wonderful vegetarian restaurant. Their website is
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Old Aug 4th, 2006, 12:23 PM
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Also look in the "secondi" section for "grilled veges". It's one of my all time favorite things to eat in Italy. Only once was I disappointed in ordering them, and that was in Sardinia. They weren't hot and grilled fresh, but rather grilled, chilled and stored in a refrigerated case.

In Firenze, I recommend a little place off the beaten path called "Il Giova". They serve grilled veges on their dinner menu.
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Old Aug 4th, 2006, 01:01 PM
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At home, I eat no meat, fish, fowl etc. of any kind. OK. Maybe the tiniest bit of nuoc mam if I can't avoid it. But I do eat eggs and milk.

You definitely have to watch out for "sneaky" meat: scatterings of pancetta in a squash dish, meat broth in a soup, things fried in/flavored with animal fat.
When I asked if a ravioli dish was cheese, the waiter told me no, and proudly rattled off all the "vegetarian" dishes -- all of which were pasta dishes that contained meat. (I speak some Italian, but this exchange was in English with a waiter who spoke very good English.) I once ordered a roasted zucchini main course -- you guessed it -- stuffed with meat! Once I was even mistakenly served raw, ground horse meat. I sent that back, needless to say.
Fortunately, in the other cases I had omnivores with me, so I could surreptitiously slide the other dishes onto their plates, and take extra veg in return.

I think you have to just do the best you can, and (I know this is hard) not get upset. Simple dishes, like pizzas, mushroom pasta, the parmesan and pepper spaghetti they make in Rome (can't remember the name -- caccio e pepe?) are better bets than complicated ones that may have many ingredients. Read some Italian cookbooks before you leave, for common dishes and how they're made. There are many places, like pizza by the slice shops, where you can see the food before you buy it.
Just remember -- food is supposed to be life-affirming. Even for a vegetarian, it's not a prison. (For doubters, I eat more and better things as a vegetarian than I ever did as an omnivore.)

Eat, and enjoy Italy!
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Old Aug 4th, 2006, 01:06 PM
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Zuppa and ravioli and pomodoro and the risotto and the yummy grilled vege's and the gelato...

The vege gal never had a problem eating her way through Italy!

(click on my name Penny if you would like Florence restaurant tips from our trip report)

Have fun!
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Old Aug 4th, 2006, 08:05 PM
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Pennywise, I haven't eaten red meat in years, and never have too much problem in most restaurants in Italy, although I eat fish and occasional chicken which broadens my choice.

I prefer to let the restaurant know that you are "sensa carne" (no meat) they can usually fix you up something great. I prefer this label to vegetarian as if you announce the latter, people are inclined to make you a plate of vegetables!
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