So here I am, a vegan traveler, in Naples, Italy. “Io sono vegano” – I am vegan, it’s very important to know. I wasn’t quite sure how I would fare here, but I’m volunteering, and meals are part of my program fee. However, I’ve had a few problems with the catered meals not being vegan, or, in many cases, not even vegetarian. This is not the fault of the volunteer agency per se, but of the restaurant for not listening and appreciating a vegan’s needs. The explanation to me was that Neapolitans, and Italians in general, are not familiar with the vegan concept. And I understand that the whole world is not on the same page. However, when I would go out for meals, I was always able to find food.
(Pasta everywhere! This is one of my favorites – Spaghetti alla Provenzale – Spaghetti with tomato sauce, olives, and capers!)
I think the key in Naples, and in Italy, is to just peruse the menus. Most pasta dishes don’t include meat and you can easily ask for no cheese – “senza formaggio”. And always ask for dried pasta, not fresh pasta, as fresh pasta contains eggs. One of the best parts about Naples is the pizza. And we vegans are lucky because a cheese-less pizza is a staple on Neapolitan menus. This would be the “Pizza Marinara”. I would regularly order this “con zucchini” or “con fungi” to add a little variety.
(Pizza marinara con zucchini – so good!)
Another delight in Italy is the bruschetta. The toasted bread with fresh tomatoes and olive oil really hits the spot on a hot day in Naples.
(Bruschetta and pineapple. Pineapple should always be served this way. Always.)
Amazingly enough, there are a few vegan/vegetarian restaurants in Naples. One in particular is Vitto Pitagorico. This restaurant boasts many pizza varieties with vegan cheese and other vegan dishes. When I visited, I wanted to try something other than pizza or pasta. So I started with their fried veggies – a fresh variety of vegetables, battered and fried, with a smokey dipping sauce. So good and not the pizza/pasta you find everywhere. For my main course, I opted for an asian fusion type dish that included noodles, veggies, and almonds together in a chili soy sauce. The flavors were awesome and again, a nice variety to the normal Italian diet.
(Amazing dishes at Vitto Pitagorico!)
Vitto Pitagorico is not the only vegan restaurant in Naples. Others include Cavoli Nostri and ‘O Grin. I have not tried either place yet, but they come highly recommended. I hope to hit them before I leave Naples in the next week.
All in all, being a vegan in Naples, and in Italy, isn’t impossible. It really just takes the same amount of diligence as anywhere else. And when in doubt, there’s always pizza!