4 Traditional Options For Vegetarians At Italian Restaurants

When you're a vegetarian, eating at a restaurant sometimes means ordering dishes that are less traditional or a little more boring than the rest of the menu. But at Italian restaurants, this tends not to be the case. Italian cuisine includes some vegetarian dishes that are every bit as traditional—and delicious—as those that contain meat. Here are four such dishes worth trying.

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan is a delicious Italian dish that consists of lightly breaded eggplant layered with mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, and Parmesan cheese. The dish is often flavored with basil and oregano for some herbal notes. Eggplant Parmesan is filling and delicious, and it gives you the sense that you're eating something special and indulgent, thanks to the crispy breadcrumbs and cheese. It's a really warm and satisfying dish to enjoy in the winter.

Mushroom Risotto

Risotto is a classic Italian rice dish that's made with stock, wine, and Parmesan cheese. Some versions are made with chicken or other meats, but mushroom risotto is a delicious vegetarian option. Italian restaurants will often use their special, higher-quality mushrooms, like shiitakes or chantarelles, for this dish. The creaminess of the rice, paired with the chewiness of the mushrooms makes for a satisfying yet healthy dish.


Bruschetta is often served as an appetizer, but you could certainly make a whole meal out of it, especially at lunch time. This Italian favorite consists of sliced baguettes that have been lightly toasted and drizzled with olive oil. They're topped with a tasty tomato salad made with garlic, onion, fresh basil, oregano, and more olive oil. Some versions also have some fresh mozzarella on top, and Parmesan cheese is a must. A few pieces of this crispy, tomato-covered treat will really satisfy your palate.

Ricotta Manicotti

Many Italian pasta dishes do contain meat of some sort. But ricotta manicotti is one dish that does not. Manicotti is basically large, tubular noodles that have been stuffed with a seasoned ricotta mixture. The dish is topped with a red tomato sauce—just make sure you ask and confirm it's not a meat sauce. Manicotti is really rich and satisfying and a great choice if you're in the mood for some pasta.

You don't have to go non-traditional to enjoy vegetarian fare at an Italian restaurant. From manicotti to mushroom risotto, there are plenty of options that blend classic Italian ingredients and flavors.

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