Calling all pasta lovers! You’re in for a real treat when you visit this magical area of Italy!
Was I a little worried about eating vegan in Italy? Yes. Did I need to be? Not especially. Although you may find yourself restricted to the same few options in most places, there will almost always be something you can eat. My poison for this trip was Penne Arrabbiata and I think I can now officially call myself an Arrabbiata expert. I was also pleasantly surprised to find some real hidden vegan gems which made life a little easier!
My main tip for any vegans visiting Italy and unsure of what to order is to go for a bruschetta dish, a marinara pizza or a penne/spaghetti in a tomato sauce. You can order these from almost any restaurant menu and if they aren’t there, they are usually more than happy to whip something up for you. I was informed by many of the waiters and chefs that the penne and spaghetti there doesn’t traditionally use egg, and when it does, it is stated on most of the menus. I got into a really nice habit of learning the word ‘vegana’ and chatting to the waiters about my options to make sure they understood what I was trying to order. I found that most of the Italians we met were very helpful and this made life a lot easier.
My first stop in this beautiful country was Naples, where we remained for two nights / one day before heading down to Sorrento where we were based for the week. I visited the Amalfi Coast, Capri and Positano for day trips so didn’t get as much time to extensively explore their restaurants but I’ll share what I found regardless.
I don’t know if this is useful for anyone but, as well as the places I actually visited, I will share the list of restaurants which I researched and put on my potential ‘to visit’ list. This does NOT mean I recommend them, as I haven’t visited them myself, they’re just simply places which came with recommendations on Google (and from friends) and which also provide vegan options.
Trattoria Pizzeria La Lazzara
Our first priority after arriving at our hotel in Naples at 10.30pm was to find somewhere which was still open (kinda crucial) and with some traditional Italian food to kick start our adventure. Luckily, one of the places I had researched, Trattoria Pizzeria La Lazzara, was on the street over from us and stays open until midnight. Perfect! This Trattoria has a cute outdoor seating area, but sadly as we were so late, it was fully booked. So, we sat inside the traditional little restaurant, with the World Cup cheers ringing from the TV and a table full of Belgium fans who looked as though they may have been there since the game at 4pm. I tested out my new Italian skills by proclaiming the word ‘vegana’ and pointing at me and then some kind of gesture which suggested that I was unsure of what I could eat. Typical Brit abroad and I’m not proud of it. However, luckily the waiter deciphered my flailing and pointed me in the direction of the spaghetti with tomato sauce . So confident was I in my new translation skills, I attempted to order a glass of wine. Turns out wine is a lot cheaper there and I ended up with what felt like an entire gallon. The spaghetti wasn’t bad but it wasn’t the best I’d ever had. All in all, a nice enough experience for our first night.
The next day, we went for a wander with the aim of reaching one of two vegan spots for lunch. The first, ‘O Grin, was closed so we kept walking until we reached Amico Bio.
This is a really cute little spot. You’ll walk through some arches on a cobbled side street covered in leafy vines to the adorable restaurant which backs onto row upon row of Italian balconies with washing hanging over the side. This is just how I imagined Naples.
Amico Bio (no relation to the one which once existed in London) is a vegetarian and vegan restaurant with a frankly ginormous menu. They claim to be the first veggie restaurant in Naples and they change their menu up often, with all of their produce coming straight from the ‘Amico Bio’ farm. After a long time agonising over all of the various options, we ordered the large mixed plate (which had both veggie and vegan options included, as my boyfriend is vegetarian) and the seitan with tomato sauce as well as a large side salad. The large mixed plate comes with an Azuki bean salad, risotto with courgettes, rocket and almonds, baked potatoes with cumin, Savoy cabbage with cheese, courgette with oregano and carrots with feta cheese.
This food didn’t blow me away but it is alright and a bargain for the price you pay. We decided to opt for a dessert to share, to tide us over until dinner as we’d missed breakfast, and I’m so glad we did as it was the highlight of the meal and one of the best desserts I’ve had in a long time. We went for the Vegan chocolate souffle. It was gooey, sweet and moreish, everything you want in a chocolatey dessert. Highly recommend this!
By the time we left, the place was absolutely heaving with people being turned away as they were at capacity, which, for a veggie restaurant, is always amazing to see.
Gino Sorbillo Organic Pizza
For dinner, we decided to visit Gino Sorbillo Organic Pizza as I’d read quite a few reviews online that this, along with Antica Pizzeria Da Michele, is some of the best pizza in Naples. Their marinara is totally vegan and came with some great recommendations. Firstly, make sure you get there early as you can expect to queue for about an hour, secondly, bring some cash along with you so that you can drink some limoncello whilst waiting in line, as we did!
Did I love my experience? Nope. The sauce was lovely and soaked into the thin base well but the base and crust weren’t well cooked. I know that traditional marinara pizzas are supposed to be a little charred but mine was burnt on the bottom and gave the whole pizza a bitter taste. Note (enthusiastic photo was taken before tasting)
The staff are rude; bumping into you as you try to pay, throwing people’s pizza down on the table, rushing you to order. The whole thing felt like a conveyer belt, get people in, get their order and then get their money before kicking them out. I suppose when you have a reputation as one of the best pizza joints in Naples, you don’t have to put in as much effort. Maybe they should. Side note: I messaged Gino Sorbillo on Instagram to give him this feedback directly and he wrote back inviting me in later that week to try to make amends for our experience but sadly we were leaving. Props to Gino for making an effort with disgruntled customers though.
Places I didn’t make it to but which have vegan options:
Shanti Art Musik Bar
Antonio e Gigi Sorbillo
400gradi Di Ciro & Salvio Rapuano
Trattoria Pizzeria Nardones
L’Ebbrezza di Noe
Insolito La Pizzeria Gourmet
From Naples, we made our way down to Sorrento where we would be based for the week. Little shout out to Sorrento as it was, by far, my favourite place we visited and I’m so glad we chose to be based here. From the quaint, cobbled streets to the bustling but traditional restaurants, I loved it here.
Grand Hotel Aminta
We stayed at the astonishingly beautiful four stay Grand Hotel Aminta which was all kinds of pretty. The hotel itself is airy, modern and luxurious.
The staff are friendly, the vibe is relaxed and everything about it feels like a holiday should. It sits at the top of the hill, overlooking the town and I will remember that view forever. Stunning.
Upon arrival, we headed straight for the hotel’s pool bar where I had one of the best penne arrabbiata dishes I’ve ever had! Just the right amount of sweetness in the sauce, fresh ingredients, the perfect amount of spice and al dente penne. I’m drooling just thinking about it, and rest assured this was not the only time I sat by the pool munching on this throughout the week. They also offered a marinara pizza and bruschetta should you wish to change it up, but I couldn’t bring myself to order anything else.
Ristorante ‘O Parrucchiano
Now, sometimes as a vegan, I’ve realised that you have to sacrifice your food choices to experience a truly exquisite restaurant. It was my birthday and I chose to visit Ristorante ‘O Parrucchiano. I had seen pictures online of how beautiful it was and just had to experience it for myself.
This is one of the most stunning venues I’ve ever eaten in. Surrounded by greenery and lemon tress, flowers and vines, you feel as though you’re dining in the middle of a pretty rainforest. I knew that the vegan choices weren’t great already as I had looked at the menu online but the staff were very helpful and the flailing and pointing paid off. I, once again, had a penne arrabbiata which wasn’t on the menu but the chef agreed to make for me. I also ordered a side of potatoes, because double carbs is life.
Wow, what can I say? This is just the most adorable little place. This was on my list because I knew it had a separate vegan tasting menu which is rare to find in the UK, let alone in an adorable little Trattoria in Sorrento.
The front of this restaurant is stunning, just how you’d imagine a traditional Italian restaurant: Little lamps, lots of plants and, of course, located on a cobbled street.
Once you step inside, you feel as though you’re in a beautiful old house. There are lots of little rooms joined to each other as well as framed pictures, living room chairs and dimly lit lamps. I can’t say enough about how cute it is in here. There is also a lovely man wandering around playing the Mandalin and really ramping up those Italian feels. They also have a selection of wines, which I googled, and most of them are vegan.
The vegan tasting menu is priced at 49 euros and consists of ‘Vegetable Fantasy’ aka a ratatouille of mixed vegetables, a carrot and orange puree and fresh ginger and mint, the ‘Aubergine Cream’ which is made of cherry tomato gratin with oregano, garlic soy cream and fresh mint, ‘Risotto’ Arlecchino’ with mixed vegetables and a ‘Vanilla Oat Pudding’ with chocolate sauce and red fruits.
They also bring you a complimentary amuse bouche of tomatoes and capers before the meal starts.
The food was nice, and it was a real welcome treat to have other options apart from pizza and pasta. The atmosphere and the service are what make this venue and the food isn’t bad either.
Ristorante Bagni Delfino
For our last night in Italy, we wanted to be somewhere near the water, with a glass of prosecco watching the last rays of the sun disappear and be replaced with twinkling lights from nearby buildings. We couldn’t have picked a better place to do this.
Sadly this restaurant is known for its seafood and there are extremely limited vegan options but they did offer a vegetable penne dish with seasonal veggies, as well as sides of Spinash, lemon infused broccoli and (like always) potatoes. So, we ordered a bit of a mish mash of vegan dishes and enjoyed our surroundings.
The food was tasty and the view was surreal. The service was also fab here and whilst it was really busy, it felt calm and subdued.
Places I didn’t make it to but which have vegan options:
Café Latino Sorrento
Terraza delle Sirene
Frankie’s Bar Pizzeria
Dafne Restaurant Outdoor A la Carte
Trattoria dei Mori
Ristorante Pizzeria Tasso
Taverna Sorrentina Sweet Dreams
Giardini di Tasso
Ristorante Donna Sofia
We Love Puro
Il Leone Rosso Ristorante Pizzeria
Ristorante La Cambusa
We took a trip to Positano on our way to the Amalfi Coast and so we only had a chance to visit one restaurant here. As we were all starving by the time we got to the bottom of the hill, we stopped at Ristorante La Cambusa, which overlooks the beach, the boats sailing out to sea and the copious amount of tourists wandering past. Obvs this has a focus on seafood, like most of the restaurants near the water but I ordered another ‘off the menu’ item this time (getting quite confident now!) as I combined a spicy arrabbiata sauce with the courgette pasta spaghetti. It was delicious, as were the super salty chips I ordered as a side dish. CARB LIFE STRIKES AGAIN.
I imagine that most of the restaurants here are of a high standard and you could get a vegan option at most of them, I imagine so it’s a matter of taking your pick!
For my mum and dad’s birthdays, Chris and I hired a private boat to take us all the way around the island. This was, by far, the best thing we did all holiday and was such a memorable experience. I really can’t recommend it enough! Roberto and his son were so funny, friendly and knowledgeable about the area. They took us to all of the secret spots and gave us snacks, giving us time to swim in the clear blue waters and explore the famous grottos. If you’re interested in this tour, you can find it here: https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/14201539 (this isn’t an ad, I just absolutely LOVED it).
For lunch, Roberto took us to a restaurant on the water in Capri, called Le Sirene which had the most insanely beautiful views.
Now, I know that gnocchi can traditionally be made with or without egg so I was very careful to make sure with my waiter that the gnocchi in tomato sauce was vegan. His English was good and he assured me that the chef said there were ‘no eggs’. I later found out, through my aunty, who was with us, that all of the gnocchi was prepared fresh and so they probably made it upon request for me.
Either way, please do always check with this dish as it can be made both ways. The gnocchi was soft, pillowy and sweet and honestly, I could have eaten it every day for the rest of the trip. So tasty!
Places I didn’t make it to but which have vegan options:
Visit Pulalli Wine Bar
Lido del Faro restaurant
Trattoria Il Solitario
Trattoria da Giovanni
Pulalli Wine Bar
Ristorante da Gemma
Villa Jovis Restaurant
Da Paolino Lemon Trees
Basically, Italy stole my heart once again. I will never tire of that country and can’t wait to plan my next trip there!
I hope these recommendations help you and please let me know in the comments if you have any questions at all!