Guide to the Best Vegetarian Food & Restaurants in Bologna, Italy- (vegan too)
Bologna might be the birthplace of Bolognese ragu’ and meat filled tortellini, but it has plenty to offer the travelling omnivore too. Tortelloni (big tortellini) are filled with spinach and ricotta and Cappellacci di Zucca are just a couple of the naturally vegetarian dishes of the Emilia-Romagna region found commonly in Bologna.
The Emilia-Romagna is considered one of the bread baskets of Italy and leaders in agricultural production, a particularly fertile region supplying the country with a myriad of produce items.
You won’t be limited to the occasional salad tacked on the end of a meat-filled menu to keep veggie diners from complaining. Bologna has embraced vegetarian cooking for decades and the city offers some of the best eateries in the country.
You can take your pick from restaurants dedicated to transforming traditional Italian cooking into an all-veggie affair to hip cafes where the menu is decidedly international to chai-latte scented spots that host regular poetry readings and elegant eateries where the dishes are 100% raw. Here is a guide to vegetarian restaurants in Bologna, Italy (not in any order).
Clorofilla is Bologna’s oldest vegetarian restaurant, serving up tasty treats since 1984. It’s an international menu with an emphasis on tasty fakes. Think meat-laden culinary classics, but without the meat, i.e. seitan steaks, vegetarian hotdogs and tofu and spinach stir-fries.
The restaurant is pleasantly retro with wood panelling everywhere. There are a few Italian classics on the menu including vegetarian lasagne and minestrone soup, as well as recently introduced vegan dishes and desserts. A starter will set you back €8, while a main averages €13.
Address: Str. Maggiore, 64 tel 051 235343 (walk-in only) Monday-Saturday: open lunch and dinner www.facebook.com/pages/category/Health-Food-Restaurant/Ristorante-Clorofilla-139920349403324/
Zenzero Ristorante Bistrot
The doyenne of vegetarian restaurants in Bologna, Zenzero is open at lunch with a smaller, cheaper menu and at dinner with a huge array of dishes that includes some meat and fish dishes. Everything’s organic and the menu changes daily, but regular favourites like the seitan scaloppine and vegetable tempura are both worth the trip alone.
Despite its exotic sounding name, (Zenzero means ginger in Italian), the restaurant serves up plenty of Bolognese stalwarts in its clean all-white dining room. Try the tortelli stuffed with potatoes with a beetroot sauce. While for the desserts, the apple crumble is always a crowd pleaser.
Address: Via Fratelli Rosselli, 18 tel: 051.5877026 Tuesday to Friday: open lunch and dinner Saturday: dinner only Monday: lunch only www.zenzerobistrot.it
Fram defines itself as an organic vegetarian bistrot. It’s open from breakfast to dinner and popular across the board from nonni relaxing over a chai latte to American students studying with a handful of vegan chocolate cookies. This is the place to order a soy cappuccino without having to fend off dirty looks.
The lunch menu is pretty tempting with vegan hamburgers and seasonal soups, but Fram’s real tour de force is its aperitivo, since it’s one of the few places in Bologna to offer organic and biodynamic wines, beers and soft drinks along with vegan and gluten free snacks.
Address: Via Rialto, 22 Tel: 051 587 7514 (walk-ins only) Tuesday to Saturday: 8:30am to 10:30pm www.framcafe.com
Organic ingredients with an emphasis on cruelty free, along with a healthy dose of originality. The menu, which changes daily and is available eat-in or take away, is a true smorgasbord with mung bean stew with couscous to vegan yogurt and gluten free cakes.
But if you’re coming to Malerba, you’re coming for the sandwiches, which are crazy good and just plain crazy. Think a hotdog with a tofu sausage, ketchup and vegan mayonnaise with baked tomatoes or the club sandwich with chickpea patties on wholemeal bread, rocket and thinly sliced carrots.
Address: Via Giuseppe Petroni, 15/b tel: +39 342 981 9151 Tuesday to Friday: open 8:30am to 5pm Saturday: open 9:30am to 10:30pm
The first 100% vegan restaurant in Bologna, Botanica Lab is owned and run by Anna Artesiani, who learnt raw veg cooking from the master Matthew Kenney. The emphasis here is on raw dishes like the divine beetroot tartare with pistachio cream and crispy onion and the parsnip crème brulee with swiss chard, mustard and gremolata salad.
Everything here is done with style and class from the marble tables to the blue velvet love seats and leafy plants. The same attention to detail is given to the dishes, which look almost too good to eat. Expect to pay for all that beauty, mains start at €15, but this is fine dining, vegan style after all.
Address: Via Battibecco 4/c Tel: 342 860 6026 Tuesday to Saturday: open lunch and dinner www.botanicalab.com/english
This café bakery is perfectly positioned in the Old Town for a quick refreshment in between all that sight-seeing. Not to mention that Zoo is the place for an Italian breakfast totally un-Italian. Here locals dine on carrot cake and feta and tomato bagels instead of the same old custard-filled cornetto.
Later in the day, Zoo keeps satisfying your veggie itch with an array of bagels, burgers (try the potato and spinach burger with carrot ‘bacon’, provola and salad) and freshly made juices.
Address: Str. Maggiore, 50/a tel: 373 843 8500 (walk-ins only) Weekdays: open 10am to 7pm Saturday: open 11am to 7pm Sunday: open 11am to 4pm https://www.facebook.com/likeazoo/
Can you do traditional and locally sourced as well as vegetarian? If you’re Il Rovescio, you can. It’s what the locals are calling a contemporary ‘osteria’. There are some meat dishes, but also a whole heap of wholesome Italian dishes like red lentils and verna (Bolognese ancient grain) pasta with roasted broccoli, pomegranate and leeks, and chestnut flour crepes stuffed with vegetables and mixed seeds.
Further down the road, Il Rovescio continues to reinvent the wheel with an organic vegetarian and vegan-leaning pizzeria. Try the potato, spinach and ricotta pizza with lime and lemongrass or the eggplant parmigiana pizza!
Address: Via Pietralata, 75 tel: 051 523545 Tuesday to Friday: open 7:30am to 11pm Weekends: open lunch and dinner www.rovescio.it/en
The products are Fairtrade and organic at this vegetarian institution, but the fare is decidedly international. Try the tofu meatballs and rice empanadas or vegetable strudel and potato ‘strozzapreti’ (a type of hand-cut pasta).
They’re usually open for breakfast and lunch, but they host regular literary and culinary events in the evenings. You can find out what’s on on their website.
Address: Via Mascarella, 81/h tel: 051 421 0582 Monday to Thursday: 11am to 4pm Friday and Saturday: open lunch and dinner http://www.estravagario.org/
Opened in 2018, Bio’s Kitchen is Bologna’s newest vegetarian darling. Everything is organic with a lunch buffet of more than 40 veggie dishes as well as a few ala carte highlights like their veggie burger with soy yoghurt and strozzapreti di farro (a handmade spelt noodle) with lentil ragu. At dinner, you can indulge in their ancient grain pizza, which is left to rise for 48 hours, and comes with adventurous offerings like pumpkin cream, seitan bites, fresh spinach, mushrooms and walnuts; and vegan mozzarella, pan-fried chicory and escarole, braised red onion, capers, olives and sundried tomatoes.
Via Galliera 11/B They accept phone bookings 051/4381562 Everyday: 12pm to 3pm and 7pm to 11pm https://www.biositalia.com/en/
Berberè is not strictly vegetarian, but as one of the best pizzerias in Bologna, we couldn’t compile any sort of foodie guide without mentioning it. Berberè is dedicated to producing artisanal pizzas with sourdough starter. You can try their wheat pizzas or order from the ancient grains menu. One of the best things about Berberè is that they serve their pizza precut into eight slices, each topped with an array of ingredients to encourage sharing. It sounds like a no brainer – precut pizzas – but in Italy, it’s practically non-existent. The menu changes seasonally, but you can expect plenty of exciting combinations like roast pumpkin, sautéed mixed mushrooms, taleggio, fior di latte mozzarella and parsley; or kale, sharp provolone, mustard, stewed leeks and mozzarella. Their dessert menu also deserves a glance, so resist the urge to eat that extra slice if you can!
Via Petroni 9/c You can book online Tel. 051 – 2759196 Monday: 7pm to 11pm Tuesday to Sunday: 12:30pm to 2:30pm and 7pm to 11pm https://www.berberepizza.it/en
Don’t miss: Diverdeinverde Held every year in mid-May, Diverdeinverde is a chance to take a peek into some of Bologna’s most incredible private gardens. Not normally open to the public, these gardens range from tiny inner city courtyards to sprawling country villas. More than 50 gardens and their adjoining palazzos can be explored over three days. Tickets go on sale a few weeks before the event. For more information visit www.diverdeinverde.fondazionevillaghigi.it/ Dates for 2019 are May 17-19.
Looking for culinary activities in Bologna? We can connect you to vegetarian cooking classes in Bologna and curate a vegetarian food & culture walk of the city for you with our world-class network of guides- contact us today for more info!