Feb 23, 2012

Gluten-free Rome

Not many gluten-free travelers realize that celiacs exist in Italy too.

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.

Soy–, yeast– and gluten–free "occhi di bue" cookies
Useful resources:
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

33 comments:

  1. Great! Thank you so much for this list of restaurants with gluten-free options. I will definitely be passing this along to visitors.

    Thanks again,
    Andrea

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  2. Great post!!
    It's a pit I live in Milan and I'll hardly try the spots you suggested!
    I was thinking to search also in Milan the restaurants with gluten free meals (I've a blog as well :D)! Hugs
    Silvia

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  3. very interesting post and the bagna cauda under ist's tipical of my region

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  4. I have to write the disclaimer that I have never visited these restaurants personally, but they were recommended by people I've met who are gluten intolerant.

    I hope you find this list a useful addition and if you or anyone else has any feedback about these restaurants, I would be interested to know.

    Alex Cafe Restaurant, Via Vittorio Veneto 20 
    Casa Coppelle  Piazza Coppelle, 49 
    iI Giardino Pamphili, Via Leone de Holn 63
    Hobo Art Club, via Ascoli Piceno, 7
    La Mimosa Fiorita, via Bari, 11/A
    Porto di Ripetta, via di Ripetta, 250 
    Un Punto Macrobiotico, via dei Volsci, 121

    Another note is that many gelato is thickened using gluten so that's another thing to watch out for. Gelateria dei Gracchi and Fatamorgana are two gelaterie that I know of from my many visits :) that offer gluten free cones and don't use gluten as a thickening agent. Gracchi even has different colored paddles to indicate whether a particular gelato was made with egg or milk.

    We get so many guests who ask us about gluten-free in Rome and so it's really great to now be able to give them the link to this post. Thanks so much!

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  5. Thanks; great resource

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  6. Gluten or not, it's good list to add to my running list of restaurants. Thanks again! Grazie!

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  7. It seems almost every post of yours I read brings back some memory or other of my days is Rome! I remember one of our neighbors in Rome was celiac, but I don't remember her having so many food options. Of course, this was a few years back now…

    And that photo of the Agriturismo really brought me back: after a few years we actually moved out to a place on via di Torre Sant'Anastasia, just a stone throw's away! Small world.

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  8. You have a delicious blog here! Loving every bite of it :)

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  9. Replies
    1. mi piace il tuo blog :) splendide ricette e ti seguo con piacere :) Surf Movies

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  10. mi piace il tuo blog :) splendide ricette e ti seguo con piacere :) se ti va passa da me anche se sono alle prime armi :) ciao :)

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  11. What a helpful list! I was surprised to learn how common gluten allergies are in Italy despite thinking what a blow that must be in the land of delicious pasta. My mom's cousin in Italy has celiac- whenever we eat dinner at their place, he has a special dish of beans during the pasta course. Glad to know the Italian government is so supportive. Thanks again for the research.

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  12. Great minds...I had just come up with a listing on gluten-free eating in rome for my blog, Burnt by the Tuscan Sun and now I've found this!

    Will post your link there & in a few more places around my page as well!

    Keep up the great work...

    Francesca Maggi, Author

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  13. What a wonderful list of restaurants. I loved Rome and this makes me want to come back. Thank you for sharing!

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  14. Ele, I would also add this fantastic pasticceria in San Paolo (just 2 min from the station). They only do GF stuff and everything is delicious. I was so mad to find out this place opened so close to my house a month after I moved! It's called Sans de Ble, in via Chiabrera. http://www.sansdeble.it/

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  15. Thank you all for your lovely comments, replies and tips! I'm so happy this post was useful to all my gf readers, visiting Rome should be a pleasure for everybody!
    Ciao
    Eleonora

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  16. Thank you so much for this list; I am going to Rome in to weeks and will defenitely visit some of them!
    I will take some time to browse your blog too, looks interesting.

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  17. Thank you so much for your list! I basically planned my sightseeing around the restaurants you listed. Thought I would give a quick run down of the places I tried.

    Voglia di Pizza: Great gluten free menu with huge selection. Pizza, bruscetta and pasta. Really nice servers as well. This restaurant is right in the heart of Camp de' Fiori and the perfect place for a break while you are shopping.

    Universale Caffe: By far the best place we went to. Tucked away in a small side street, it looks like a place that does not cater to tourists. It didn't matter though as the Maitre D was very accommodating. No gluten free menu, but anything can be made gluten free, including the fresh baked bread they bring to the table. This place should not be missed.

    Tramvi - The restaurant in the kids museum was underwhelming. No gluten free menu and the server gave me one option which was pretty bland.

    La Soffitta - Across the vatican this place caters mostly to the tourist crowd. I had a delicious calzone, but it was a bit pricer then the other places.

    Mama! Eat - Very gluten free focused with delicious food. Full gf menu with lots of options. Definitely check it out.

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  18. Thank you for this nice post. I like this very much

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  19. Wow - thanks for this excellent list. I'm going to be in Rome for one night before going on a cruise, so I'll be looking for somewhere to stay that is near to somewhere with a Gluten free pizza :-)

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  20. thanks for this - got one for paris? brian@lahiere.com

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  21. Thank you very much!!! This was just what I was looking for...heading to Rome next week!!!

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  22. Welcome to Rome!!! Hope you have a fabulous time. I hope this article and the proof of it in your travels will confirm that Italy is not a GF hell, to the contrary!
    Ciao

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  23. Great it's very informative details..Thanks for sharing this :)

    ~Nancy

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  24. Looking forward to trying them out, thanks. I was thinking i would have to stick to rissotto and fish dishes without the bread to mop up with but now i cant wait to get there. Thanks again

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  25. I googled "gluten free croissants in Italy" and your blog came to my attention. Where do you find these? I need to know soon if possible as I'll be leaving Seattle for Italy soon. Thank you so much!

    ~Becky
    Seattle Gluten Free Foodies

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  26. I googled "gluten free croissants in Italy" and your blog came to my attention. Where do you find these? I need to know soon if possible as I'll be leaving Seattle for Italy soon. Thank you so much!

    ~Becky
    Seattle Gluten Free Foodies

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  27. Fantastic list and I cannot wait to try them. I recently discovered that I am intolerant to gluten and lactose. It got me worried when I had to book my two visits to Rome this year. And how I will endure the lovely food without getting too sick. Thanks to your list I have more hope for a sick free visit!

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  28. Commendable job with the post. Thank you for sharing the same.

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  29. While I don't have this problem, I have other allergies, and was thrilled on my last stay in Italy to discover the heightened awareness of coeliac disease and allergies.

    I have a degree of lactose intolerance - I can handle hard, aged cheeses and anything made from goat's and sheep's milk, but not standard gelato. In Perugia and in Florence, I came across geletarias that had non-dairy options - a pleasure!

    I live in Petite-Italie in Montréal, and Milano supermarket carries gluten-free pasta, as well as various foods made without gluten, without sugar, and various other dietary specifics.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your comment! There are many gelaterie in Rome who provide lactose-free gelatos too!

      Ciao

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