When I was looking for food tips ahead of my trip to Italy last summer (my theme for last year’s VeganMoFo) and our weekend in Rome this winter, I found some very distressing advice.
“Order a pizza marinara!”
“You can get spaghetti with tomato sauce anywhere!”
“There are so many fruit sorbets!”
I don’t know who these losers are, but I don’t go on holiday to eat plain pizza and pasta followed by a boring old fruit sorbet. I want some real food! And that is exactly what I got at Rifugio Romano, an omni restaurant with an extensive vegan menu covering about 4 A4 pages of starters, primi, secondi, and pizzas. They even have vegan desserts and labelled vegan wines! This place is close to Termini train station and was extremely popular with tourists, but it wasn’t overpriced or tacky.
There were some very tempting starters, but we only had eyes for the fried rice balls! I got the suppli vegan, and Dr HH tried the vegan arancino. I’m not sure what the difference is between suppli and arancino (the shape?), but they were similarly crispy and delicious, and both stuffed with rice. Mine contained rice in tomato sauce and little cheesy pockets, while Dr HH’s was rice dotted with peas and mushrooms. We were both satisfied with these.
I have never seen a four cheese vegan gnocchi on a menu anywhere, so I was compelled to try this. Actually, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations – I was expecting more depth of flavour from four different cheeses, but it tasted like my regular mac and cheese sauce which is only made with nooch. Maybe the four cheeses they used are too similar? It was nice, but not the flavour explosion I was hoping for.
Dr HH definitely won with his main dish: bucatini with smoked seitan and tomato and chilli sauce. I believe he only ordered this because one of his favourite quotes from Master of None is: “That ain’t spaghetti, that’s bucatini! It’s a thicker noodle, you dummy!” Whatever the reason, it was a great choice: those thicker noodles were perfectly cooked to retain a bit of bite (whereas my gnocchi were a bit too soft), the chilli provided a good kick, and the smoked seitan was delicious.
He managed to leave room for his favourite Italian dessert: tiramisu. It was extremely creamy, which he said was a big plus. He told me it wasn’t strongly coffee-flavoured, but I can confirm that this was a malicious lie to trick me into trying some (even a hint of coffee is too much for me).
I ordered the dumplings with vegan nutella, which would have been ideal for sharing – it was far too much for one person! I feel like this speaks for itself. Look at it. It was amazing!
With a wealth of veganisable Italian dishes, let’s never settle for a boring tomato sauce and fruit sorbet ever again!
What’s your favourite Italian dish? Could you have managed that entire portion of dessert dumplings?
The fried rice balls sound great! Too bad about the gnocchi; my first thought when I saw the pic was that it was mac & cheese! And the dessert dumplings look amazing!
Yeah, the gnocchi was a bit of a letdown, but everything else definitely made up for it!
Oh wow, this place sounds like a dream. I feel like those desserts alone would be worth a visit. I really like your MoFo theme by the way, I’m excited to see which cuisines you’ll be exploring!
Thank you! I was quite surprised myself by some of the cuisines I managed to discover!
That dessert looks divine! I don’t think I could have finished it, but I would have tried!
Somehow my boyfriend managed to hoover up most of my dessert after finishing his tiramisu! I don’t know how he had the room!
Whoa, those dumplings! I’ve never even considered sweet dumplings before…!
Game changer, eh?! It was simple but delicious!
Omg! The dumplings with vegan Nutella looks exceptional!!! I’m sorry about that disappointing four cheese gnocchi. Everything else looks spectacular. I would love to visit Italy someday.
Italy is well worth a visit, and not only for the exciting desserts!
I am not a huge fan of Italian food because 1) I don’t think Italian American food is particularly creative 2) I am SURROUNDED by so many in my area 3) the fact that there are so many names for different food that are almost the same thing drives me nuts lol. But my father in law was hell bent on getting my husband and I into an Italian restaurant for awhile, he kept saying “traditional Italian is very vegan friendly with lots of beans and fresh produce” He was also on one of those trendy Mediterranean/South Beach diet plans at the time. I would fly out to Italy just to eat those nutella dumplings though!
The nutella dumplings are definitely worth it! I really love a good pasta dish – I know a couple of restaurants in Prague and the UK where they get quite creative with their pasta options, but I know what you mean about uninspired dishes sometimes.