Vegan Pizza in Italy

Ciao a tutti!

How vegan is the pizza in Italy? Let’s go over a few very vegan friendly options 🙂

There are a few different types of pizza to learn about. Pizza is normally with tomato sauce, but you can also get pizza bianca (white pizza) meaning there is no tomato sauce. Many times there is fresh rosemary and salt on it.

1.) In Italy, you will never have to worry about cheese filled pizza crust. Does not exist. At most you may have a sfoglia or torta salata where there could be melted cheese and meat inside. A sfoglia can be kind of similiar to a calzone, since they are closed. A torta salata literally mean salty cake. But these are not pizzas. They are completely other dishes.

2.) Pizza is in and of itself ONE, as far as meals are concerned. You do not need a first, second plate, no need for appetizer. If you get a pizza, it is definitely going to be enough for your stomach, trust me. (though there is always room for vegan dessert) 🙂 Most pizzas come by the slice, the classic size and some pizzerias, but not all, make a large size for 4-5 people.

base per la pizza3.) The base is always flour, water and salt. Some doughs may include sugar, olive oil or leavening/yeast. The typical flour used will be “00”, which is plain old white flour. Just watch out for lard, as soon pizzarias use this in the pizza dough. If you have a gluten sensitivity, you may want to look for some gluten free options such as kamut. (corrections: kamut is not gluten-free, try rice, millet or buckwheat flour, thanks to one of our wonderful readers to bringing this to our attention 🙂 )

4.) Not all pizza menus will be in English, so just prepare. Also, not everyone knows what vegan means. Many Pizzerias are now owned by Egyptians or Turks, so they may be learning Italian as their 2nd, 3rd or 4th language! It helps if you take the step forward.

5.) A general rule of thumb for crust thickness: farther north is thinner, farther south is thicker.


A menu may be of this sort. This is from a take-away place in Milan.

menudipizza milano

Ok. No anxiety here. I am going to guide you through the vegan pizza ordering process!

The Marinara is always going to be vegan. It is tomato sauce, olive oil, oregano, basil, garlic and maybe a couple variations, for example maybe the pizzeria uses only oregano because they ran out of basil. Anyways, its vegan. Wherever you go, with family, friends, tours, whatever, the marinara pizza will be your best friend.


Several other pizzas have mozzarella. You can always order a pizza “senza formaggio” (without cheese) or if you have a rough time learning Italian, just say “no mozzarella”, but just make sure they have not added other cheeses onto the pizza. Other cheeses include:

Grana-Grana Padano, a version of Parmesan
Pecorino-sheeps cheese
Mozzarella di bufala-buffalo cheese

Let’s review. “No” + anything above and they will understand you.

Meats. There are quite a few meats and instead of memorizing what you don’t want, it’s easier just to simply say “No carne”, (car-neh).

Fish. Sometimes people will not consider fish, meat. Just to make sure it’s helpful to know the word for fish. “No pesce”. (pesh-eh) Or just remember Joe Pesci, the actor. Just don’t tell them “no Joe”, they probably will not get the joke.

Eggs. Yes, sometimes they put egg on pizza. You will have to the learn word if you don’t want it in your food. “Uova” (woah-vuh) is eggs, just tell them “No uova” or “senza uova”

So, we are ready to order. We are hungry for a pizza with tomato sauce with black olives. Let’s see if we can find one in the menu above.

The FLOWER Pizza, looks good, but senza mozzarella and senza carne. We will be left with tomatoes, black olives and rucola (rocket) lettuce.

The SICILIANA Pizza looks OK, but senza carne or senza pesce, because in this one there is anchovies (acciughe). We would be left with olives, capers and oregano.

The ALBA could work, but senza formaggio. We are left with rucola (rocket) lettuce.

The ORTOLANA may work best if we want a lot of vegetables. Just tell them “no mozzarella” and we are left with zucchini, eggplant and green or red peppers.

**The best bet for veg-friendly pizza in Italy will usually have these names: A vegetariana, ortolana or alle verdure. Always ask because they may have different names.

Buon appetito!!

I am happy to guide you through any Italian language phrases or a plant-based lifestyle experience. Contact me for coaching, Grazie!

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