Now for Rome, this is one of my favorite cities of all time. It looks like Paris a lot of the time with a river running through the city and beautiful architecture scattered through tight alleyways and historic sites and ruins everywhere you turn. Except, the people are much nicer to strangers and travelers. Which is pretty fantastic. Even the ones who speak pretty terrible Italian (us). The main city has tons of English speaking people, but if you steps about 2 feet away from the main Roman streets, some people don't know a word of English, but will work with your hand signals and laughs :). For most of these restaurants Sunday, Monday and Tuesday many restaurants are closed. Call ahead to make sure they are open because everyone is on 'Italian time' which is not as strict as opening/closing days and hours in America. Make a reservation to be safe too! Finally, Italy doesn't really use Yelp, so check Foursquare and Trip Advisor's websites to find different restaurants and the hours are all WRONG on these sites and they all conflict to make it even more fun, so be careful with that!
I had some of the best food ever here, with tons of surprising finds. Here are my top 5 restaurant picks from Rome:
- Romeow Cat Bistrot
Romeow is a vegan restaurant with 6 friendly kitties running around your feet as you eat. It's basically my dream come true. The food is a bit fancy and small, but good. I really enjoyed the quesadilla and the tiramisu (only served on the weekend) was phenomenal. The decor of the place is really cute with nice art and fun runways for the cats near the ceiling. They are well taken care of and run around gleefully as you enjoy a glass of wine and some fancy food. You must have a reservation, so don't make the mistake of just showing up. They speak English, so you can give them a call or email even the same day to get a seat.
- So What?
So What? was the big shock of the trip. Odd reviews on Trip Advisor said this place has a "dive bar feel" which I completely disagree with. They place punk music and have old movie posters on the wall, but the place is bright and has a nice staff that speaks perfect English. The food was way fancier than I thought it would be. I expected it to be a vegan fast-food joint, but instead they had fantastic seitan pasta dishes like a Shepards pie and a fettuccine seitan dish that were super tasty. The guy paired it with a red wine and they had a large selection of nice beers and wine. We finished off the night with the "Roller Ball" Cake which was a vanilla double layer cake with a creamy center. It was the most moist cake I've ever had and was super tasty. We truly enjoyed this place and highly recommend it. The prices were really good too, with just about 8 euro per plate!
We ran into a TON of pay-by-weight restaurants in Italy, and Ops was one of the best. It is a pretty high-priced place (about $15 for 1/2 a pound of food) but the quality was fantastic. This is an all vegan lunch spot with a variety of foods including frittata, gnocchi, gluten free pasta, quinoa dishes, cous cous, salads, and more. It's healthy, but really flavorful and interesting.
- Il Margutta Ristorarte
Il Margutta is a vegetarian and vegan buffet place that serves "brunch" aka lunch starting at noon and dinner. They are open 7 days a week (pretty rare!) and serve a different menu each day of the week. Everything is clearly labeled and it's about half and half vegan/vegetarian. On the weekend it's $25 per person all-you-can-eat, but on the weekdays they offer a $15 per person deal where you can put as much as you can on ONE plate, plus a soup, salad and dessert. I think the weekday is a better deal unless you're going to really go for another plate. I couldn't finish my one plate, so the weekdays were a better deal. The food is a mix of cuisines, but they have a lot of classic European dishes reminded Lucas of traditional French cooking, and it was very healthy and flavorful as always.
This is an ALL vegan pastry shop a few metro stops out of the center of Rome. It's worth the trip and the sweets are fantastic! It's located in a small town and the chef doesn't speak a word of English. But just point to things that look good and you'll be fine! We had a fantastic cream filled donut, a bag of 5 croissants, sugar coated fried crepe thingy, a sweet twisted bread, and two cappuccino di soias for 10 euro! I know this guy makes even more amazing things all the time that weren't there at the time including cannoli, chocolate croissants, and more. Everything is extremely sugary and sweet, but definitely worth the trip out there! He's super nice and took our photo at his store. Check him out!!
Finally, there are tons of soy gelato places, cafes, and a ton more restaurants we couldn't try. Check out Trip Advisor, FourSqaure, or just Google to find different stores and options, I guarantee you are near something amazing at all times. The farmers markets, like the daily market at campo di fiori sell the most amazing produce including my favorite, the tomatoes (pomodoro) that are the best in the world!