Prior to visiting Italy, lots of people asked how I was likely to get on there without eating meat or dairy. It wasn’t bad at all though, I have to say; I like eating all the carbs and Italy has all the carbs, so on that basis we got on very well indeed – and in some places, well enough for me to find it worth making what I ate into a blog post. Venice was one such place; obviously, I am not in a position to provide the ultimate guide to vegan restaurants in Venice, but I am a vegan who went to Venice and ate delicious things, so I can certainly tell you what and where I enjoyed.
My travel companion is not vegan, so we don’t tend to go to purely vegan places; we might visit veggie or vegan restaurants a couple of times a trip, but mostly we’ll be on the lookout for great vegan options. The places I’m going to recommend will be good for vegans, but also vegans travelling with omnivorous friends. With the formalities out of the way, let’s jump right in – and may I apologise that I don’t have photos of everything, my blogger hat became somewhat askew at times. Perhaps it was the wine.
In general, there didn’t seem to be as many obvious vegan lunch options here as there were in other places we went in Italy, but what I did have were some of my favourites from the whole trip:
Pizzeria L’Angelo: With 3 vegan sandwiches and around 6 vegan pizzas on the menu, I was spoilt for choice at this little place. It’s in San Marco, so very much on the tourist trail, but unmarked on the outside and full of locals as well as visitors. Their vegan pizzas use cheese made with rice milk and a selection of veggie toppings; I chose at random because it was pretty busy, but it involved aubergine which is always welcome. It’s a grab and go situation, we trotted off to find somewhere to sit with jazzy new pizza box accessory in tow.
Acqua e Mais: This is a Venetian streetfood place which specialises in fried polenta-with-other-things served in a ‘scartosso’ (a cone, basically), and I loved it. I had vegan meatballs with mint and peas alongside my polenta and sincerely lamented not being in Venice for more days so I could have it again – they also had fried veg which looked great. It’s also in San Polo, so again likely to be quite accessible if you’re sightseeing during the day.
Cocaeta – Non le solite Crepes (which I’ll talk about in more detail below) is also open from 12:30 on select days so would be a good option for a takeaway lunch.
You’ll nearly always be able to locate a cheeseless veggie pizza or pasta dish for dinner in Italy, but if you’re all pasta-ed out (I would say it’s impossible, but it’s probably not) or you fancy something a little different, I can wholeheartedly recommend these places:
Cocaeta – Non le solite Crepes: A quick search on Tripadvisor with the Vegan Options filter brought up this place in the top spot, so we gave it a go on our first night. It’s a tiny place, takeaway only (there’s a bench outside if you want to take a seat, or wander along the canal). As you might have guessed, the menu is almost entirely crepe-based with the exception of a couple of bits; there are an impressive number of fillings available to suit omnivores, veggies and vegans alike in both sweet and savoury options. I went for a pumpkin puree/sundried tomato/asparagus/other delicious things concoction and it was amazing. Go here if you get a chance.
Frarys: This Mediterranean/Middle eastern eatery in San Polo is one of our food highlights from the whole trip. They serve meat and dairy so there is something for everyone no matter who you are travelling with, but have a good number of vegan options in a very clearly marked menu (my favourite kind). The lovely staff were knowledgeable and happy to discuss dietary requirements and make recommendations. Please have the mixed vegan sharing appetiser, it is fantastic. Big portions too – I couldn’t finish my Jordanian rice dish, and frankly I pride myself on the amount I can eat.
La Tecia Vegana: I *think* this is Venice’s only fully vegan restaurant. It gets fully booked (which, as pretty much the only fully vegan option available to an ever-growing market, I suppose it would) so definitely reserve a table in advance if you can. We didn’t, and they were very kindly able to squeeze us in if we were able to eat and be out before a table that was due to be taken arrived, but they turned away plenty of people after that, so we got lucky. We actually went for two pastas – the lasagne and the ravioli, and both were great – but they had plenty of non-pasta options too. Also home to several cats, which in my book is extra points.
Clearly gelato needed its own section in this – I’m not an animal – and I have two places in particular to recommend. Plenty of ice cream shops will have dairy-free options, usually the dark chocolate and fruity sorbets, but here’s where I really loved:
Gelatoteca de Suso: This ranks highly on Tripadvisor and it’s also fairly central, so it tends to be pretty busy. What I really liked about Suso was that the vegan flavours, of which there were several, were clearly marked, which makes it way less awkward to suss out what you can eat when you don’t have the chance to occupy all of the browsing space or have the staff’s attention to yourself. I opted for NotaNera – raspberry and dark Nutella, otherwise known as heaven on earth. They also have vegan cones on request, so if you’re feeling the unfairness of having to eat all your gelato out of cups and prefer your icy treats with a side of carbs (hi yes me plz), this is the place to come.
Gelateria il doge: On a walk through Dorsoduro one evening we stopped at Gelateria il Doge, another popular and well-rated place that I’d read had a couple of vegan options. They did; chocolate, hazelnut and fruit gelatos as well as Sicilian style granita (a sort of slushy sorbet). Unfortunately their signature – Crema di Doge – isn’t vegan, but my selections of mango and hazelnut were beautifully creamy, so I’d definitely recommend.
If you’re a fellow vegan and heading to Venice soon, I hope this has been helpful. If not – I hope looking at photos of food was enjoyable anyway. A Venice travel diary is in the works (by which I mean I have a couple of notes and a horrible number of photos), as well as posts on the other places we visited, so let me know if there’s anything you’d like to know about our time there.