Savory Bites

My cousin has been living in the city all summer and goes back to Texas this week. I have been lucky enough to see him almost every week. Last weekend, I invited him and other family over for dinner so we could all share more time before he leaves.

My apartment, like many apartments in NYC, is small, so a sit-down dinner is a challenge. I decided, instead, to have a finger food meal to make things easier and normalize the idea of sitting on the couch while eating. The dinner went great and I invented a new yummers finger food for the occasion, Savory Bites.


The idea comes from using filo dough, but I dislike using that dough. It can be a lot of work and my approach remains easy cooking. Instead, I used crescent rolls. The kind that come in tubes.

I made two different kinds. One that was like pizza and another with pesto. To do the exact same thing, you will need:

  • Two rolls of crescent roll dough, in the tube, check the ingredients to make sure they are vegan
  • Spaghetti sauce, I used a garlic heavy one
  • Black olives sliced into thin circles
  • Shredded vegan mozzarella 
  • Vegan pesto
  • Small onion, diced into small pieces 
  • Small red bell pepper, diced into small pieces 
  • A few button mushrooms, diced into small pieces
  • Tablespoon of olive oil

Start by sautéing the onion, bell pepper, and mushrooms in olive oil. Sauté on medium heat until soft, about 5 to 7 minutes. Let cool. Take the first roll and open onto parchment or wax paper. This will let the dough be more easily removed later. With your fingers, mash together all the seams to make one sheet of dough. Using a rolling pin (or label-free and cleaned wine bottle), roll out the dough a couple times in each direction to flatten and even everything.

For the pesto bites: Use a spoon to add a thin layer of pesto to the dough, then a thin layer of the cooked veggies, and a thin layer of cheese. There will be left over filling. The layers should be thin because the dough is delicate and won’t roll well if too thick.


Looking at the longest edge of the dough, begin to roll that edge towards its opposite edge. Don’t be afraid to help the dough off the parchment paper. If the original seams reappear, this is okay. Try to carefully mash them together again and keep rolling. Soon you will have a long roll of dough with filling. Take a sharp knife and slowly cut into circles of about an inch thick. I got about 12 circles from each roll. Place each circle on a pan with at least one inch between each.


They won’t look perfect, and this is okay. Flavor is most important.

For the pizza bites: Follow the same dough preparation process of making into sheet. Add a thin layer of speghetti sauce, a thin layer of black olives, and a thin layer of cheese. Follow the same roll and cut process.


Cook the bites at 375 for 10 minutes or until the edges are golden.

So yummy! Everyone ate as many as they could and kept going back to grab another one. The process can easily be used for other savory or sweet ingredients.

I hope you try these and let me know how it goes, especially if you try different ingredients. I will absolutely be making these again.

Pizzeria L’Angelo in Venice

I was thrilled to find a pizza place in Venice, Italy with clearly labeled vegan option.


Of course I got the vega. It was okay. Hubby was not at all impressed. The place is a counter only, so we ordered and took our pizza box to a nearby square. This is common in Italy. It was fun to do this, but I wish the pizza had been better.

Pizzeria L’Angelo gets two out of five vegan cupcakes. Not only was the pizza not great, the people working there clearly didn’t want to be there. Too bad. I say skip this place and keep exploring.

Teamo in Venice

Eating vegan in Venice, Italy was the easiest of all three coties visited. Our hotel was not in the main tourist area, which was wonderful. We were able to wander the islands (I didn’t even know the Venice we see today is a series of multiple small islands that have been connected with landfill) and see things others often miss.

Of course we were starving as soon as we arrived. Many restaurants are closed during the mid afternoon so I was thrilled to see Teamo was open and had vegan options. Best part? Sitting outside in the lovely weather.

Of course I had to try the vegan lasagna and gazpacho. Both were incredible! Hubby got asperagus risotto (vegetarian) and the Teamo salad without seafood. The vegan menu is small, but there are miltiple vegetarian options.


Yummers! Not the best lasagna I have ever had, but a yummy option for a hungry dinner. The soup and salad were both excellent.

We enjoyed Teamo so much that we went back a few days later. They must only carry so many servings at a time because the only vegan option available was the burger. Which is not actually a burger and I enjoyed it more than the lasagna. It is two seasoned and mixed with vegetables tofu patties served with your choice of raw or cooked vegetables. I got the cooked vegetables because I also got a salad. Yummers!

Teamo gets four out of five vegan cupcakes. Very worth enjoying when in Venice, especially if the weather allows for sitting outside on the calm street/sidewalk.

Universo Vegano in Florence

Hubby found Universo Vegano for our first night in Florence. It has good reviews, so we were excited.


It’s a cute little place with an English version of their menu.

The menu is giant, we were both overwhelmed. And there is also a case at the front of the restaurant.


We finally decided. I got a lentil burger called the Multiprotein and the Beach salad. Hubby got the Grand Sombrero and a Chop Salad. The Grand Sombrero is a full meal, so he didn’t need the extra salad. It all sounded yummers!


The food was okay. Tasty, but not mind blowing. A simple fast-food approach to vegan food.

If I was in the neighborhood and hungry, I would eat here again. The amazing competition they face would have me eating elsewhere more frequently. Universo Vegano gets three out of five vegan cupcakes. The food was fresh, if not especially flavorful, and the place cute.

Across the street is a gelato place with clearly labeled non-dairy options. Yummers!

Berbere Craft Pizza & Beer in Florence

Berbere is a small chain across Italy and yummers!

Looking for a fun evening meal, I found Berbere through Google. One of the reviews had mentioned a vegan pizza. Hubby adores pizza and when in Italy…

This place has an honest to goodness wood burning oven that cooks pizza super fast. I sat right at the bar where pizza is prepared and really enjoyed watching how simple they made it look.


Although not labeled, I asked for the vegan option. It is seasonal and during my visit they had a beet cream pizza with sautéed green onion and olive.


The dough with beet cream was placed in the oven with onion and olive added at the end. A tasty combination, but would have benefited from more beet cream.

Hubby adored his pizza of tomato sauce, mozzarella, and basil. Not vegan, but he thinks it is the best pizza he has ever had. We also started with a bowl of olives that were very tasty.

Best part of Berbere? It’s half a block from Sweethings. Us and another couple both stopped at Sweethings to pick up dessert and then headed to Berbere for dinner with our little boxes. The other couple, Florentines, said we had gotten the best dessert and pizza in town. They also got the beet cream pizza.

After dinner we walked back across the Arno River and stopped to watch the sunset. A glorious evening!

Berbere gets four out of five vegan cupcakes. It was wonderful, but only one option and a bit dry. Worth enjoying when in Florence. Yummers!

Sweethings in Florence

I was so excited when I figured out there was a vegan bakery only half a mile for my Florence hotel. I had to get there fast!


It was the end of the day, but there were still a few things to try. The storefront is adorable and the two people working there were super nice.

I tried the chocolate cake with an apricot layer, raw chocolate truffle with raspberry, and lemon cake. Hubby also tried an apricot tart, but didn’t let me taste it. Actually, it was gone before I realized I should have asked for a bite.

Everything was fantastic. Full of flavor but not super sweet, just the way I appreciate vegan sweets.


When in Florence, absolutely swing by Sweethings. It’s not a restaurant, and actually sells vegan cupcakes, but deserves five out of five vegan cupcakes.

#Raw in Florence

After so many days of heavy pasta and bread, I was thrilled to try #Raw in Florence. Hubby doesn’t normally go for raw restaurants, but he had already eaten a big brunch. It meant I was able to enjoy on my own.

A very cute place just south of the Arno that offers pre-assembled grab-and-go options, made to order smoothies and bowls, and options from the kitchen.


I picked a smoothie bowl of greens, banana, and peanut. All bowls come with granola and fruit.


I was in heaven. My bowl was delicious and just what I wanted.

#Raw gets four out of five vegan cupcakes. My dish was wonderful, but the grab-and-go options looked old. They were browning around the edges and didn’t inspire me to try. The staff was nice enough, but when my meal was ready they asked me to come inside to pick it up; I sat at a table outside. The table next to me got everything delivered. They were American too, so I am unsure why we were treated differently.

Le Fate in Florence

Hubby wanted more Italian food and I want to have an easier time eating, so I found Le Fate. Honestly, eating in Florence has overall been much easier than Rome and I have serveral places to share about.

Le Fate is adorable. We arrived too early as Google indicated it opened at 6:00, but really opens at 7:00 for dinner. The cute bench outside helped us enjoy the evening till 6:10 when we were invited inside to wait until the kitchen staff was ready for us. A glass of wine for hubby and a glass of water for me kept us company during an exciting discussion of current events and the time passed quickly. At 6:45, we were invited deeper into the restaurant to start early. So kind. The waiter had asked the kitchen staff to be ready early for us.


A clean and adorable dining room welcomed us to a fully vegan menu in Italian. Our waiter, already knowing we don’t know much Italian began to explain all the options for us. The choices sounded incredible and we just went with our gut.


As a seasonal menu, I highly recommend just enjoying yourself here.

Although we didn’t order it, we were each provided with hummus and veggies to start. A very mild hummus that just made us want more food.


Next came a house made rice cheese plate.


The cheeses were very mild and paired nicely with the jams. Hubby super enjoyed it. I was happy the rice cheese had a nice creamy texture.

Next came house made spaghetti and I got a black rice dish.


Hubby felt it was the best spaghetti he has ever had, even told the server this (he’s normally fairly reserved). I thought the sauce was very mild. The rice dish was incredible.

Next was a cold veggie dish for hubby and eggplant parmigiana for me. The cold dish was very good. My eggplant was, can you guess? Mild.


Of course we had to try dessert. They had two different ones, so we got one of each. A chocolate thing with chocolate cake crumbles in it and a fruit tart with cream.


My favorite was the chocolate. I wasn’t a big fan of the tart, but it was good.

Hubby feels El Fate deserves five of five vegan cupcakes. I think it gets four of five vegan cupcakes and since this is my blog, it gets four. I highly recommend enjoying this restaurant when in Florence, but the flavors could be more vibrant. Our server was wonderful and to open a bit early for us was a gift. As usual, they didn’t know I would be writing a review. Yummers!

Oh, don’t accidentally land at Il Vegetariano just down the street. We didn’t try it, but it’s not the same place.

Rifugio Romano in Rome

Hubby describes Rome as decaying beauty. It’s so very true. There is so much that can be considered beautiful here, but it’s wrapped in decay. This works for the vegan food scene. There is so much potential, and gems every so often, but the majority of options are flanked by decaying meat. It’s a thing. And I won’t lie that eating has its challenges.

My research before the trip indicated that it would be fairly easy to eat here. Skip the places that ask if you want a table while walking by. Skip the paces that have pictures of the food. Skip the places next to tourist areas. Those seem like relatively easy guidelines. But, honestly, most places fit these pitfalls.

I haven’t gotten sick, so I have been able to successfully navigate the food scene. With my bag of travel almonds.

I have stumbled on a couple fun things. The train station has a store with a few clearly labeled options; a sandwich, a cake, and something they were out of, so I don’t remember. Today I found a coffee shop that had a vegan croissant. I asked for it and the woman behind the counter said, “it’s vegan, is that okay?” I said, “I know, that’s why I want it.” It was clearly labeled. I also found a fully vegan place, but the person there was completely uninterested in serving us, so we left. Oh, and vegan gelato can be found with persistence. Maybe 10% of the places have it. We found one next to Trevi Fountain and the best one is in the Jewish Ghetto. Dark chocolate gelato!

The best find so far was Rifugio Romano. A local Italian restaurant near Termini, the train station. They have an entire vegan section on the menu with vegan versions of all the traditional Italian dishes. Yummers! The two sisters running the place are vegan, super nice, and were thrilled to have us visit.

I was starving and overwhelmed by the options. We decided to start with a salad that had seitan. I was worried it would be like salads in the US that are overwhelmed with the “meat” and have greens whispered at them. This salad was was beautiful with greens. And delicious!


Since I was overwhelmed, I ordered the special ravioli and Hubby ordered the Gnocci with walnuts. I adored both dishes. Hubby was less excited by my ravioli.


Normally, this might have been enough food, but we were hungry. We asked which pizza was the favorite of one of the sisters. She recommended this:


Yummers, again! No tomato sauce. Potatoes, zucchini, tofu, tomatoes, and vegan chunks of cheese. We scarfed this down.

Next was, of course, dessert. Hubby ordered panna cotta with chocolate and I don’t remember what mine was called. It was layers of cream and cookies with chocolate.


Do I need to write it again? Yummers! When we asked for the bill, we each got a shot of limoncello. I know this is a typical thing in Italy, but I had never actually had it happen.


A lovely dinner and I will try to go once more before leaving Rome. If you get here, definitely make it to Refugio Romano that gets five out of five vegan cupcakes.

Buddha Bodai in Chinatown, NYC

We recently explored Chinatown more and of course had to sample the food too. Buddha Bodai happily offered a warm and full dining room.


Everyone was stuffing their faces with Dim Sum. We decided to try:

  • Sweet sticky rice dumplings
  • Veg meat rice roll
  • Steamed vegetable bun
  • Steamed dumpling, because I adore dumplings
  • Lotus root pan cake
  • Sushi rolls of sweet potato and vegetable, because the friend with us really wanted sushi


I have almost no idea which was which of the different dishes and it was very fun to try so many things. However, I probably needed help ordering as I was not super impressed. The sushi tasted strange to me, but that’s what we get for ordering non-Chinese food in Chinatown.

Buddha Bodai gets three out of five vegan cupcakes. Everything tasted fresh and it was fun, but if I go back I will take an expert to help me order.