Eating vegetarian in Italy doesn’t have to be about sacrifice at all. If the vegetables are fresh, flavorful and cooked well, it can be a true indulgence. Take as your example the perfectly grilled eggplant, the simple basil pesto, or perhaps the garlicky tomato bruschetta drizzled with olive oil. Here are some restaurants in Venice that do vegetables justice.
Vegans and vegetarians alike will feel right at home at Fiumefreddo Bio, a little restaurant with a focus on organic ingredients. Try the cabbage rolls stuffed with radicchio, or their goat cheese tzatziki on homemade bread. Quinoa and cabbage “meatballs” can be followed by spelt flour cannelloni stuffed with cheese, or eggplant and tofu parmigiana. You can come during breakfast hours to drink an almond milk, or for dinner for a nice selection of wine and craft beer.
Venice was for a long time a crossing point between Western and Eastern Europe and this history comes alive at Frary’s, where Middle Eastern and Italian cooking collide. Here, vegetable tagines can be followed by a homemade tiramisu. The restaurant does serve some meat and fish, but it caters especially to vegetarians and vegans, as well as gluten-free and halal eaters.
La Tecia Vegana is perhaps the only sit-down restaurant in the city that’s completely organic and vegan. They bring the principles of good Italian cooking to tempeh, curries and everything in between. You’ll find remixed Venetian specialties like aubergines in saor, as well as particular desserts such as raw pistachio pies.
This restaurant can be found on Lido, a beach island just 20 minutes away by public transit. The cuisine is a mix of cultures, mostly Indian but with a dash of Middle Eastern and Asian ideas. There are options for meat and fish eaters, but the focus is on vegetarian cooking with curries, pilafs, specialty drinks and homemade desserts.
A small take-away place with a deli and salad bar where you choose your food and pay by weight. All the food is vegetarian and the menu changes every day depending on what’s seasonal. Think of buckwheat and carrot fritters, pasta with hemp and almond pesto and baked potatoes in a creamy curry sauce. A good place for a quick lunch.
The savory pumpkin flan served at La Zucca is the stuff of local legend. Like many of the restaurants on this list, there are options for meat eaters, but the focus here is decidedly on elevating the best seasonal vegetables available. In the summer, you’ll be able to sit outside on a gorgeous little canal. You’ll not want to miss out, so make a reservation in advance.