I'll let you in on a little secret...finding gluten-free things to eat in Italy is really not that hard. I know, I know. When friends heard that Josh and I were going to Italy last summer, they were like, "WHAT?! BUT WHAAAT WILL JOSH BE ABLE TO EAT?! WHAT ABOUT PIZZA AND PASTA?!"
Here's an actual photo of my husband, Josh at Castel San'Angelo
cautiously scanning the horizon for something gluten-free to eat.
While it's true that pizza and pasta are still the leading ladies on every menu, I was surprised to learn that because 1% of Italy's population is allergic to gluten, there are tons of gluten-free menus and restaurants throughout the country! Big cities like Rome and Florence even have restaurants that are exclusively gluten-free, which is an easy option if your allergy is more serious.
Ordering caprese is always a safe bet, but trust me...
there's a lot of gluten-free choices in Italy!
Things are a bit trickier in small towns though. Josh and I attended a friend's wedding in Brindisi a few years ago and since it's a small town there weren't really any gluten-free options on the menu.
Here we are, obviously pre-jetlag, on the flight to Paul and Carla's beautiful wedding
in Brindisi in September 2014.
Honestly, Josh's diet on that trip pretty much consisted of Nutella spooned out of a jar. with a swig of espresso. Don't get me wrong, I would happily swim laps in a pool full of Nutella and he was quite content eating chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but who wants to go to Italy and NOT eat pizza.
When Josh wasn't eating spoonfuls of Nutella at our hotel in Brindisi,
he was enjoying espressos by the dozen.
Before we went back to Italy in September 2018, I did some research to see what kind of gluten-free options were out there. And daaaang, did I find some and daaaaang did Josh eat a lot of amazing pizza. Here are my favorite spots to get gluten-free bites in Rome, Venice, Florence and Trieste!
Il Tulipano Nero
You'd be hard-pressed to find complimentary gluten-free bread at any restaurant in the US, so Josh was over-da-moon thrilled to get a whole basket to himself when we sat down for our meal.
There's really nothing like your own basket of bread, is there?
There were more than a dozen tables outside to choose from, mostly locals but we did bump into a few gaggling girls who just started their study abroad program that day. Their peppy enthusiasm and John Cabot University lanyards just made me smile.
We always start our meals in Italy with a caprese salad and this one was particularly delicious. The basil leaves were incredibly fresh, so that each bite had a citrusy punch to it.
They have a wide selection of gluten-free pizza and pasta options, so Josh and I were able to share several dishes, including the black olive pizza you're staring at above. Their best asset is their outdoor seating, which gave us an ample vista for people watching throughout our meal. It was a fun place for dinner.
Mama Eat Menu per Celiaci
Mama Eat serves the gluten free cuisine of your dreams. Their flagship restaurant is located just around the corner from the Trastevere piazza and is your best pick for senza glutine in all of Rome.
Let's start with dessert, because why not. After you've walked around the Eternal City for hours and hours and hours, you're definitely gonna want some carbs. Indulge in their scugnizzielli alla Nutella, which is fried pizza dough with Nutella drizzled generously throughout this petite mound of Heaven. How often can you say you had sweet pizza dessert?
Can you sense the absolutely spiritual experience I had with this slice of tiramisù pistacchio? This scrumptious morsel was consumed on our very last night in Rome and I swear, sometimes I can taste it when I'm craving something nutty and sweet.
Something sad tells me this is not available on Yelp Eats in Santa Monica.
It was drizzled with maple syrup and topped with crunched pistachio nuts. And upon further investigation, it's come to my attention that we ordered this dessert twice during our trip.
Alright, alright I'll get to the appetizers now that I'm done salivating over the sweets of Mama Eat. Just in case you're concerned you're not getting enough fried carbohydrates in your system, be sure to order a side of the arrancini, which are fried rice balls. They were served plain, so we were total Americans and asked for a side of marinara.
Pizza is where Mama Eat really shines. You can't go wrong, check out my list below for favorites.
We ate 3 meals here, including these tasty dishes:
- Pane senza glutine (GF bread)
- Bruschette miste (vegetable bruschetta)
- Arancino a metro Pistacchio (rice log with pistachios)
- Pizze Napul'è
- Pizze Panna, Prosciutto e funghi (mushroom and prosciutto pizza)
- Scugnizzielli alla Nutella (fried pizza dough with Nutella)
- Tiramisù pistacchio (pistachio tiramisu)
If you're at the Trastevere location (the other one is grab-and-go), ask the server Fabriz if he's found his prince yet. He can also sing any song you request. Wear loose pants.
Voglia di Pizza
Voglia di Pizza is one of the 100% gluten-free establishments I mentioned earlier and it's a great place to grab a meal when you're on-the-go around town.
Have you ever seen someone look so lovingly upon a plate of caprese salad?
It's a pretty solid option for gluten-free pasta and pizza options in a more touristy part of the city. I wasn't blown away like I was at Mama Eat, but it's still a good pick for lunch.
Try the very cheesy, very filling quattro formaggio penne noodles with radicchio.
Josh loved the margherita pizze with funghi for his main course.
I stumbled into Pandali after catching a glimpse of a tiny senza glutine sign in the window.
Obviously, we stopped everything we were doing and bought a huge bag of pastries, cookies and breads.
How cute is this heart-shaped linzer cookie?
They even offer a gluten-free rendition of a popular cookie, pizze ebraica
that has been enjoyed by locals for hundreds of years.
This sweet pizze is basically a burnt brick of dried fruits and nuts....but amazing. The bakery that makes it's glutinous cousin is Pasticceria “Boccione” Limentani in the Jewish Ghetto.
Everything is made in small batches and tastes just divine. It's located just off the Largo Argentina tram stop, a stone's throw from the Pantheon and about 15 minutes walk to Vatican City.
Ristorante Rosa Rossa
This is one of the coziest, most romantic restaurants we visited during our trip. Josh still raves about the gluten-free pasta dishes he had here, including the cheesy beef concoction below.
Pizzeria al Campanile
We came here multiple times during our 5-night stay in Venice. It's a narrow, cozy restaurant that has excellent pizza and pasta that is worth the wait. Their pizza crust is incredible!
For our final lunch in Italy, Josh picked this petite romantic spot near the Arno River and home to the best potato gnocchi I've ever had. We were able to walk right in for lunch, but definitely make reservations for dinner in advance, because they book up quickly.
Pizzeria Cucina di Mare Marinata
I dream of their Neapolitan-style gluten-free pizza with pistachio cream, bacon and fresh buffalo mozzerella. It's almost worth traveling to Trieste just for this pizza.
WOW! Their brick oven gluten-free pizza is some of the best I've had and it's made with gluten-free Schar flour products.
Their pizza is perfectly crusty on the outside and pillowy soft on the inside. If you find yourself in the northeastern corner of Italy, you must make a stop at La Brigata. They also deliver!
All fresh ingredients from the chopped peppers to the kalamata olives.
There are almost 4,000 gluten-free restaurants and cafes in Italy so I sure do have a lot more to try, but I hope you enjoyed reading about some of my favorites.
Adventure Unabashedly Recommends
Via Roma Libera 15, 00153, Rome, Italy
Via di San Cosimato 7, 00153 Rome, Italy
Via dei Giubbonari, 33, 00186 Rome, Italy
Via di Torre Argentina 3, 00186, Rome, Italy
Pasticceria “Boccione” Limentani
Via del Portico d'Ottavia, 1, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
Sestiere San Marco (Calle de la Mandola) 3709, 30124, Venice, Italy
Pizzeria al Campanile
Salizada San Polo, 2087, 30125, Venice, Italy
La Buchetta Food & Wine Restaurant
Via De’ Benci 3/3a, 50122, Florence, Italy
4, Riva Nazario Sauro, 34133, Trieste, Italy