Where to find delicious, meat-free food in Italy’s capital city.
Italian food is like a magnet that attracts travelers to Italy. Full of carbs, simple flavors and fresh ingredients, Italian dishes always satisfy the heart as well as the tastebuds.
Budget travelers know that eating street food is not only cheaper than eating in restaurants, it also provides insight into the local cuisine. Vegetarians know that it can be difficult to find quality, meat-free food in certain European countries. As a budget traveler who is also vegetarian, I can happily say that there are tons of amazing and affordable street food options in Italy.
After living in Rome for five months, I have developed a love for these specific places that offer authentic, veggie-friendly Roman food.
This heavenly Italian-style ice cream is a necessity on hot summer days. Or on cold days, or on literally any day. Gelato is denser and sweeter than normal ice cream so a small serving, costing usually around 3 euros will do the job.
Gelaterias reside on every corner of Rome, though make sure you scope out the authentic stuff. Near touristy areas, you’ll see gelato piled high with preservatives and bursting with artificial color. Look for gelato that is almost hidden from view in its refrigerated container, and is a more modest color.
Here are the best gelato shops in Rome, in my humble opinion. The flavors rotate based on what fruits are in season, and sometime you can even find vegan options.
Frigidarium: Via del Governo Vecchio 112, open daily 10:30am – 1am
Del Viale: Piazza Giuseppe Gioachino Belli 9, Trastevere, open daily 10am – 12am
Giolitti: Via Amerigo Vespucci 35, Testaccio, open daily 7am – 12am
A supplì is a small fried ball of risotto rice and tomato sauce, sometimes with meat or other flavorings inside as well. The classic, meatless supplì is simple yet filling, and there are a couple places in Rome that sell these incredible and cheap snacks.
Supplì: Via di San Francesco a Ripa 137, Trastevere, open Mon – Sat, 9am – 10pm
Pizza Trilussa: Piazza Trilussa 42, Trastevere, open daily 10am – 3am (4am on weekends)
Pizza is a well-known Italian classic, but Roman style pizza is its own phenomenon. Romans serve pizza in massive rectangles, each with a unique topping. The servings are sold by weight, so you can pick what size slice you want.
Supplì in Trastevere also sells a Pizza Rossa that is to die for (pizza with thick tomato sauce, olive oil and oregano, as pictured above), and most pizza shops have a nice selection of vegetarian toppings using various cheeses, sauces, herbs, and veggies like zucchini, eggplant, and mushroom. The following pizza stand in Mercato Testaccio has the most interesting flavors and amazing fluffy dough.
Casa Manco: Box 22, Mercato di Testaccio Via Aldo Manunzio, open Mon – Sat, 11am – 3pm
Another staple of Italian food, there is no shortage of pasta in Rome. For a hefty, four-euro box of take away pasta, visit Pastificio near the Spanish Steps. This little shop makes only two types of homemade pasta daily (at least one of them is always vegetarian), and there is often a line out the door.
I also want to mention Osteria Da Fortunata, even though it is not street food. This restaurant near Campo De’ Fiori has some of the best quality pasta in Rome, and you can watch the cooks make the pasta by hand in the front of the room. I recommend the cacio y pepe, which is bucatini pasta mixed with just black pepper and pecorino romano cheese.
Pastificio: Via della Croce 8, open daily 1pm – 9:30pm
Osteria Da Fortunata: Via del Pellegrino 11/12, open daily 12pm – 1am
The trapizzino is yet another form of irresistible carb in Italy. This popular street food consists of a triangular bread pocket filled with meat, cheese, or veggies. The shop in Trastevere has a delicious eggplant parmesan trapizzino, and other rotating flavors with usually at least one other vegetarian option.
Trapizzino Trastevere: Piazza Trilussa 46, open daily 10am – 1am
To counteract the overload of pizza, pasta, bread, and gelato, I always filled up on fresh fruit while in Rome. The Mediterranean climate makes for incredibly sweet and juicy oranges, pomegranates, figs, and berries, and I always found affordable produce at these two street markets.
Campo De’ Fiori: Piazza Campo de’ Fiori, Open Mon – Sat from 7am until 3pm
Mercato Testaccio: Via Beniamino Franklin, Open Mon – Sat from 7am until 3pm