We are taking our 17 yr old vegetarian granddaughter to Italy in April for two weeks. Although we wii be staying with family near Rome for 10 nights, we will be taking day trips by train into the city. Also, we'll be staying in Panzano in Chianti for 3 nights and taking a one-day trip into Florence and possibly Siena. Any suggestions for vegetarian restaurants in either city?
Hi Tony, First, congratulations on accepting and accomodating your granddaughter's vegetarianism; she is a lucky young woman. Second, the only difficult thing about eating veg in Italy was describing the food later. It sounds so simple! Its secret is fantastic, fresh ingredients, particularly vegetables. If she eats cheese, there's another whole world of wonder to explore. There will be many antipasti-appetizers-that use fresh and marinated vegetables-and pastas that are a far cry from the "primavera" that many American restaurants seem to come up with when they don't variet have a veg dish on the menu. As the only vegetarians in a group, my daughter and I were offered by our guide and/or the chef a custom creation-but we usually chose a plate of gorgeous local cheeses. The antipasti and salads already served were usually vegetarian. You will have a kitchen when you're with family-hooray for local shopping!-and a tradition of honoring ingredients that means they'll know who does vegetables best. They may know of specifically vegetarian restaurants, and probably even Italy has the tofu-and-brown-rice variety, but the good news is that you're not likely to need them.
And we haven't even mentioned the breads! You will honor your grand daughter by letting her choose where to eat some of the time, and/or order for you so that you're trying something new! Or we could come along to help!!
We loved a vegetarian restaurant called Pugliamonte. It is off Via Urbana, not too far from the Termini neighborhood. It was expensive but it was awesome. The only problem is that the menu is in Italian only. The first night we sorta ordered blindly, but enjoying everything we ate. We went back the next night, but this time we took the time to translate the menu ourselves. Since we told them we would come back for a 2nd night, they offered us 50% off our meals if we arrived before 8pm. We were the only non-Italians in the joint. It is small and very intimate That was the only vegetarian specific restaurant we went to. Italy if very vegetarian friendly.
CUCINA DELLA BRAC is an amazing vegetarian option in Florence - do not miss it! It would be great for your lunch while in Florence. It is a little funny you are taking a vegetarian to Panzano, where the most famous citizen is a butcher! Don't take her to eat here: http://www.florence-journal.com/florence/2010/09/mac-dario.html But if you are a meat eater it is a must do.
Hi Tony - my experience has been that restaurants break their menu down into courses: antipasti, primi piatti, secondi, etc and in most cases the meat was a completely separate and distinct dish itself so unless you ordered it specifically, you really didn't have to worry about getting it (as opposed to, say, Olive Garden with their "chicken and _" or "beef and _" style menu). For a carnivore like myself, it was actually a little rough sometimes staying in my budget because I'd have to order a pasta dish AND a meat dish to get my fix. I think your granddaughter should have no problem walking into most eating places and finding a wide variety of delicious items on the menu that suit her preference.
Unless you specifically want to eat at a "vegetarian restaurant," your daughter should have no problem finding plenty of options in almost any restaurant; they're not listed specifically as "vegetarian," they are just dishes that don't have meat. In Italy, I even see non-meat items as main courses (under the heading "Secondi"). One night in Rome I had, as my main course, polenta with mushrooms and gorgonzola cheese. For my pasta course, I had fettucine with truffles. I would guess that pasta and appetizer courses in many places would include one or two non-meat items. It's common to see cheese listed under appetizers, for instance. For lunch, pizza is everywhere, and you'll find many non-meat pizzas. I don't like meat on my pizza, and never lack for options. While menus have categories for appetizers, primi (generally pasta) and secondi, you definitely are NOT required to order one item from every category - I rarely do. Your granddaughter could easily order an appetizer and a pasta dish and be full; and if she thinks that's not enough, she can order a vegetable side dish. I haven't been to Panzano, but I googled Panzano and restaurant, and found Ristorante Trattoria Oltre il Giardino. Click on their "Menu of the Month" to see a number of vegetarian dishes. In Florence, we had a great and casual dinner at del Fagioli, corso Tintori 47r, 50122 Florence. Our daughter had squash gnocchi with a meatless tomato sauce; I had potato ravioli with a Bolognese (meat) sauce; husband had ribollita, a traditional thick soup with beans, bread and tomatoes (no meat in this). We all shared an order of delicious Tuscan beans (fagioli). Husband and I shared bistecca alla Fiorentina (daughter was full after the pasta and fagioli). So without even trying, we all had plenty of vegetarian AND meat dishes.