It’s not easy being the only vegan in your circle of friends.
At best, it means having just one or two options to choose from on the average restaurant dinner menu. At worst, it can leave your meal options limited to a limp garden salad and a bowl of pasta.
Plus, nobody wants to be seen as the ‘difficult’ diner in the group – asking question after question in a desperate attempt to discern which dishes may in fact contain hidden animal products.
Happily, one Cork restaurant has taken the stress out of dining out for vegans, with an extensive vegan menu served daily alongside the carnivorous version.
Marcello’s of Douglas is an Italian restaurant with a reputation for decadent antipasto, hearty helpings of Italian sausage rigatoni and luxurious spaghetti carbonara. What makes this little eatery different, however, is that they also offer a full vegan menu for non meat-eaters.
It’s the real deal too; there’s seven vegan starters and 13 main courses to choose from.
You don’t even need to be a vegan to enjoy some of their most popular dishes; customers can’t get enough of the Funghi Trifolati (tossed mushrooms in olive oil, chili, and white wine), an Insalata Caprese (slices of tomato and vegan mozzarella with basil and olive oil) and the famous Arancini (deep fried rice balls).
For the main event there’s a Spaghetti Con Le Polpette (spaghetti with non-meat balls), homemade ravioli stuffed with spinach, tofu and spices in a chopped tomatoes sauce or a fresh margherita pizza topped with roasted vegetables, among many other options.
Unsurprisingly, Marcello’s has been collecting rave reviews from vegans and meat-eaters alike.
‘I am actually jubilant to have found this gem of a restaurant in Cork.’ writes Katie McGroarty. ‘Their vegan menu is extensive and as I slowly work my way through it I am hard pressed to find a favourite!’
Sarah Donovan commented: ‘What a delicious meal. I was so excited to have a full vegan menu. Fantastic! My wife had the pâté and then the lasagne (not vegan) and was also suitably impressed. The service was really good too.’
Vegan Thea Synowiecka wrote: ‘The staff made me feel very welcome and important. Overall an amazing experience!’
Vegan wines and desserts are also in plentiful supply, as are gluten-free options, with gluten-free pasta, gnocchi and pizza also available.
It might be just the encouragement you need to continue Veganuary into the rest of the year… or at least keep your meat-free Monday promise when you’re out for dinner.