The boot-shaped peninsula seems like the last place where you'd enjoy a gluten-free meal, what with all the pasta, pizza, bread, focaccia, salumi and other Italian specialties and staples. But celiacs in Italy can enjoy a large variety of gluten-free foods at every meal.
For example, mornings can have a sunny start with gluten-free croissants (cornetti senza glutine) along with steaming cappuccino. Midday snacks and main meals can include gluten-free panini, gluten-free pasta, gluten-free beer, gluten-free pizza, and even gluten-free gelato, served in a flour-less cone.
gluten: a substance present in cereal grains, especially wheat, that is responsible for the elastic tissue of dough. A mixture of two proteins, it causes illness in people with celiac disease.Prompted by a celiac friend skeptical of traveling to Italy, I did a little research, tried various products and after a number of wheat-less meals, I came up with this little list of gluten-free dining options in Rome.
Baiamonti Lounge Bar - Charming pizzeria, cafe and tavola calda (informal, cafeteria-style) that caters exclusively to celiacs. Via Baiamonti, 12 (Prati) - Tel. +39 0637351954
Hotel Diana Roof Garden - Dine sans wheat on a breathtaking terrace with sweeping views of the Vatican and tiled rooftops. Via Principe Amedeo, 4 (Esquilino) - Tel. +39 06478681
Il Capriccio di Trastevere - This fun trattoria offers a large number of gluten-free options along with their regular menu of Sicilian specialties. Via Roma Libera, 19 (Trastevere) - Tel. +39 065816469
Polenta (slow-cooked cornmeal) is a typical northern Italian staple, and totally gluten-free.
Il Viaggio - Sitting in the pastel rooms of Il Viaggio, celiacs can pick from an impressive list of wheat-less dishes, from antipasto through dessert, and choose between 3 variegated tasting menus. Via Isonzo, 14 (Nomentano) - Tel. +39 0697997043
Insomnia - Great seafood and homemade desserts in this restaurant and pizzeria that has prides in providing numerous gluten-free preparations, including pizza, pasta and fried goodies since 2007. Via Portuense, 469 - Tel. +39 0655389376
La Piazzetta - Giancarlone cooks up some of the city's best homestyle Roman cuisine, with an eye for celiac pizza-lovers. Piazza dei Visconti, 8 (Aurelio) - Tel. +39 0666014164
'O Masto - Pizzeria in EUR that serves Napoli-style thick crust pizzas, receives daily deliveries of mozzarella di bufala and limoncello from Naples, and coats its ambrosial fritti with celiac-approved breadcrumbs. Largo Salinari, 8/16 (Tre Fontane) - Tel. +39 065413448
Mama! Eat - Appealing joint that serves up a plethora of delicious gluten-free options, including pizza, several pasta dishes, tasty grilled panini, desserts and beer. Via di San Cosimato, 7 (Trastevere) - Tel. +39 065806222
Renovatio | La Soffitta - Home to some of the best gluten-free cuisine in town. Specialties include antipasti, thin crust pizza, Roman pastas classics like carbonara, and homemade desserts. Piazza Risorgimento 46a (Vatican) - Tel. +39 0668892977
Tramvì - Within the compound of the children's museum Explora, celiacs can enjoy palatable dishes in a colorful setting. And free parking in a virtually carless zone. Via Flaminia 82 (Piazza del Popolo) - Tel. +39 0632600432
Universale Caffè - Celiacs and not consume wheat-less pastries and sweets along with their espresso and exotic teas, and gluten-free appetizers with drinks, at a stone's throw from Piazza Navona and the Pantheon. Via delle Coppelle, 16/a (Pantheon) - Tel. +39 0668392065
Voglia di Pizza - Bakes flour-less pies, served with gluten-free beer, both at deliciously small prices in otherwise costly surroundings. Via dei Giubbonari, 33 (Campo de' Fiori) - Tel. +39 066875293
Beyond the city center:
Agriturismo Santa Anastasia - In the lovely setting of this rustic working farm and B+B minutes away from the center of town, the wood-fired brick oven and grill churn steaks and gluten-free pizzas until late at night. Via Torre Sant'Anastasia, 83 (Ardeatina) - Tel. +39 0671350361
Al Colle - Besides the delightful wheat-less pizzas, this place rocks a lush garden and a romantic terrace overlooking the Tuscolo winelands. Via di Passolombardo, 212 (Romanina) - Tel +39 067201032
Stella Marina - The special gluten-free menu includes wheat-less ravioli, potato gnocchi, and fettuccine, all dressed with delicious seafood condiments, plus stellar homemade breads, cakes, crostate, tiramisù, and sorbets. Via Nino Taranto, 29 (Acilia) - Tel. +39 0652440215
Favorable facts for celiacs in Italy:
- In Italy celiacs receive a monthly allowance from the government for gluten-free foods.
- By law gluten-free foods must be available to celiacs in schools, hospitals, and public places, like malls and cinemas.
- All pharmacy products are required to indicate the presence of gluten on labels.
- All food labels must indicate the presence of gluten.
Associazione Italiana Celiachia ~ Italian celiac disease association
Cose dell'Altro Pane ~ Artisan GF products
Celiachiamo.com ~ Intolerance-awareness website, has now opened 2 shops in Rome
Glutenfree Roads ~ GF travel website
Celiacando ~ GF grocery store