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What Are the Vegan Options at Italian Restaurants? (Updated Guide)

What Are the Vegan Options at Italian Restaurants? (Updated Guide)

Vegan Options at Italian Restaurants

Italians have made us all a fan of their cuisine. Believe it or not, you must have appreciated some good pasta at some point in your life. However, the biggest problem is avoiding your favorite Italian restaurants because of a set perception. 

Even if you follow a strict vegan diet, you will be amazed to know how many excellent options these restaurants offer. The real catch is knowing what you have to order when you are at it. Almost all Italian restaurants have great vegan dishes on their menu. 

Italian cuisine is much more than extra cheese helpings in your food. The cuisine gives a similar amount of attention to herbs and spices. The flavor of Italian food is decided by the type of herb that is used. The creamy dressings amplify the flavor and make the meal more wholesome. If you are looking forward to hiking up your ordering skills, you have come to the right place.  

What Can Vegans Order At Italian Restaurants? 

Are you a vegan and craving some delicious and authentic Italian food? Thanks to the worldwide veganism movement, even Italian restaurants have vegan-friendly meals. Check out the list of some delicious vegan Italian dishes below!

Tomato and Basil Soup

If you are dining in a fine Italian restaurant, you should never give up on the range of offered soups. The soups are prepared in an entirely vegan way and are devoid of cream and cheese until you request them. The soups help set a tone for your meal and have a lasting flavor. Tomato and basil are the major constituents of many Italian food items, and these soups are one of the best dishes created using them.

Pizza Marinara

A pizza without cheese is hard to imagine, right? Pizza marinara is one of the pizzas prepared without using even a single shred of cheese. These pizzas are prepared using tomato sauce, basil, and herbs. They are devoid of cheese, so you can devour the original flavor of the traditional tomato sauce. Pizza marinara is baked in brick ovens and has a smokey flavor. For any pizza lover who has turned vegan, this variant is a delight.

Pasta in Cashew Sauce

The best alternative to your favorite alfredo pasta is replacing the cheese with cashews. Cashews are incredibly creamy and can prepare all Italian food items. Almost all Italian restaurants can choose the sauce ingredient, and this tip might enhance your next dining experience.

Sorbetto Al Limone 

Sorbetto al Limone is the best gluten-free alcoholic beverage that you can side with your meal. It has a very tangy flavor and is exceptionally delicious. You can opt for the sweet variant if you have a sweet tooth. It is one of the most famous Italian beverages and must be ordered to enhance your meal.


Caponata should be your go-to choice if you want a sumptuous appetizer. It is created using eggplant, tomatoes, olives, onions, and capers. All these ingredients are fried in olive oil and are served with a side sauce. All the constituents have a high nutritional value. Caponata is a lip-smacking appetizer that should be on your table whenever you order Italian.

Fruit Cups

Adopting a vegan diet might discourage you from pampering your dessert cravings, but there is a very healthy way to go about it. You can go for the wholesome fruit cups. They are incredibly light and are served fresh after a hearty meal. Fruit cups help you complete your meal by giving the dessert hint and helping you digest your food better.

Ravioli With Coconut Milk & Lemongrass

The sauce for these ravioli contains coconut milk. The milk is clubbed with lemongrass and spring onions. The filling of the ravioli is made with grilled vegetables and herbs. More flavor is added by sprinkling spices over the entire preparation and garnishing it with basil.

Small Bites And Appetizers

There’s a common misconception that the appetizers in Italian restaurants are all meat and cheese options. If you enquire, you will find that there are some vegan-friendly small bites and appetizer options. The most common plant-based appetizer you can find at all Italian restaurants is bread, olives, and olive oil. It is entirely alright for you to eat it as a vegan. You can load up on good-quality olives and bread with olive oil. Just ensure that they haven’t buttered your bread. 

Bruschetta al Pomodoro is another excellent, tasty vegan-friendly appetizer. It’s a topping of diced tomatoes and olive oil on bread that’s very crispy. Some restaurants may butter the bread or throw in some cheese for taste, so make it clear that you want yours completely dairy-free. 

Artichokes are another staple on Italian restaurant menus. They are loaded with antioxidants and contain a lot of fiber that is good for digestion. Carciofo alla romana is a grilled artichoke that you can try out. Ensure that the artichoke has not been brushed or basted with butter. 

Plant-Based Pizza And Pasta

There are two pasta options you can always fall back on as a vegan. These are pasta aglio e olio (pepper and garlic pasta) and pasta al pomodoro e basilico (tomato and basil.) Pasta alla norma is another excellent option that is an eggplant-based pasta. Just ensure that you ask them to leave out the cheese. 

If you’re in luck, you may find a few more vegan-friendly pasta, like pasta e ceci, a pasta dish based on chickpeas. One important thing to do is always ask whether or not the chef made your pasta with egg. Ask for the eggless pasta option, and you’re all clear! 

When it comes to pizza, try ”pizza rossa”, a pizza that comes with tomato sauce and various herbs. If you believe that pizza is incomplete without toppings, ask for extra vegetables and leave out the cheese. 

Risotto is an excellent pasta alternative. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the cheese and butter that gives risotto its creamy texture. It all depends on the stock that the risotto is cooked in. Ask your chef to use good vegetable stock and throw in some lovely vegetables to make it a hearty risotto. 

Bean Based Dishes and Soups

Most of the soups and bean dishes in Italian restaurants are plant-based and vegan-friendly. One of the most famous among these is the minestrone. It contains an assortment of vegetables like onions, carrots, celery, beans, and others. It often includes rice or pasta in it. Bean-based soups are another staple on Italian restaurant menus. Beans are good carbohydrates that don’t lead to an increase in blood sugar levels. They contain a lot of iron, and vitamin B. Tomatoes are great anti-oxidants, so your bean and tomato soups are always good options. 


Polenta has been one of the staple foods of Italy for centuries now. For families living in rural areas and farming communities, polenta was always something you could find on the menu and their other dishes. 

Similar to American grits, polenta is made by boiling ground meal. Once cooked, it is eaten as is, a thick porridge, or it can be cooled down and then cut into strips that can be fried or grilled. It’s an excellent substitute for potatoes or rice, or bread. 

The main recipe for polenta is entirely vegan-friendly. It’s cornmeal, salt, water, and some olive oil. Some restaurants may use butter, milk, or meat-based broth to add flavor. Just let the waiter know that you want it dairy-free and made with water or vegetable stock. 

Final Words 

When Italian cuisine is mentioned, people usually think about creamy food loaded with dairy and meat. This may be true for most Italian menus, but it doesn’t mean you can’t eat a hearty vegan meal at an Italian restaurant. 

There are a lot of options for you, as mentioned above. Everything you see on an Italian menu can be vegan-friendly with plant-based ingredients. Try to use substitutes for cheese, as it is one of the most common Italian cuisine ingredients. 

Once you have researched the options available to you and how to ask for your food to be prepared if you’re a vegan, you’re all set! The next time you’re invited to an Italian restaurant, you won’t have anything to worry about. Have a great meal!