Sunday, 24 May 2015

Food | Eating Gluten Free in Rome


I was diagnosed with coeliac disease about 7 years ago now, which has given me more than enough time to accept it, learn about it and adapt to it so that I barely have to think about it in my day-to-day life. But sometimes it becomes a problem. When I step outside of the comfort zones that are my own kitchen, pre-packaged 'Free From' foods from the supermarket and the rarer than rare restaurants and cafes that are 100% gluten free, I'm forced to look my coeliac disease straight in the eyes and prepare for a mental and physical battle. Going on holiday and away from what I know to be safe, is a flight into the fray. I'm very new to travelling, having only gone abroad for the first time in 2013 (Hong Kong in April, Paris in August) and each time eating out became the bane of the trip. I struggled to eat in both cities and felt guilty for burdening my travelling partners, too. Sometimes I think the hardest part of my own experience with coeliac disease is the guilt.

With all of that in mind, you can imagine my trepidation when J and I made the decision to visit Rome in April, a place I've wanted to visit for as long as I can remember. Italy is all pasta, bread and pizza and surely that isn't any place for a person who can't eat gluten, right? Wrong. Eating out in Rome was easier and more pleasurable than I could ever have imagined. I would go as far as to say that restaurant dining in Rome was easier for me than it is in England. Granted, online research was difficult because there are only a selection of restaurants with an obvious online presence but with a combination of my research prior to going and then also stumbling upon gluten free food whilst physically there, I had a wonderful time eating gluten free in Rome.

The main body of this post is dedicated to the three restaurants that I visited and enjoyed most during my five days in Rome but there will be brief mention of a couple of other places that I stumbled across, too. The main thing to remember is that you should not be afraid to enter restaurants you pass in the day and ask if they offer gluten free food because I found that many offered at least gluten free pasta. You may also spot GF offerings on chalk boards outside. I cannot speak Italian but "Senza glutine, por favore?" (gluten free, please?) was easy enough for me to say and seemed to be understood by every restaurant that I approached, even if they couldn't cater for me. The loveliest thing, though? The staff at most restaurants understood what I meant. They didn't look perplexed and confused or make me feel like I was an annoyance. They didn't make me feel like I was putting them out of their way to cater for my illness. They made me feel like a normal, valued customer. 


Ristorante Mama! Eat

Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy

Ristorante Mama! Eat is located in the trendy Trastevere area of Rome. I ate the best gluten free pistachio tiramisu cake in the world here and still dream about eating another slice. Everyone receives the same menu, but most dishes are available gluten free and this is clearly marked. After the cake, the best thing about this restaurant is the fact that all gluten free food is served on transparent, glass plates for easy identification (the cake was served on the white plates above, though, because it is dished up at the front of house). All in all, Mama! Eat offered delicious and affordable food, delicious wine and a great atmosphere. You must eat here!

Address: Via San Cosimato, 7/9 | Roma (Trastevere), Rome, Italy
Website: http://www.mamaeat.com/ Tripadvisor Link HERE.
Book in advance? Yes! You might be able to walk in and get a table, but I booked in advance via Trip Advisor and this seemed to appease the staff, who initially though we hadn't booked and 


La Soffitta RenovatioLa Soffitta Renovatio, Rome, Italy

The staff were friendly, the wine was good and I ate a wonderful pizza. La Soffitta Renovatio is located very close to the Vatican so we ended up eating here twice on the day of our tour-- once for lunch and again for dinner. You should definitely stop by if you are in the area. We didn't eat gluten free desserts or order starters here, so I can't comment on those!

Address: Piazza del Risorgimento 46/A, 00192 Rome, Italy
Website: Tripadvisor Link HERE.
Book in advance? We didn't reserve tables here and were able to get a seat (the same one!) for both lunch and dinner without problems. 


Voglia di Pizza

Voglia di Pizza

I really liked this place. It was quiet and unassuming and the food was good. The gluten free menu here is almost exactly the same as the 'normal' one and they offer gluten free beers. I particularly enjoyed their pizzas and the spaghetti bolognese. The tiramisu was creamy, strong and not too bad but I wasn't fond of the cheesecake as the base tasted 'noticeably gluten free' to me, which was strange, because all of the other food I tried did not. Both J and enjoyed the atmosphere in this place because we were left alone and undisturbed for hours whilst we talked but were able to get help immediately if we needed it. We like this in a restaurant-- we're not big fans of  being constantly checked on. We felt very relaxed in Voglia and visited over and over again. 

Address: Piazza del Risorgimento 46/A, 00192 Rome, Italy
Website: Tripadvisor Link HERE.
Book in advance? Nope!


Hosteria La Vacca M'briaca or The Drunken Cow

Hosteria La Vacca M'briaca or The Drunken Cow
The Drunken Cow is one of the places that we stumbled upon in Rome rather than planned for. It was my birthday and we were looking for somewhere to have lunch before visiting the Colosseum when we noticed a chalk board outside of this restaurant advertising gluten free pasta. I chose a simple dish of penne with a spicy tomato sauce and it was both delicious and super affordable at no more than 7Euro for the huge plate. 

Address: Pasticceria Napoleoni, Via Appia Nuova, 590, 00179 Roma, Italy
Website: http://www.gzerosenzaglutine.it/
Book in advance? Nope!


Gzero Pasticceri

Gzero is a bakery about a minute's walk away from the Colli Albani metro stop that offers a selection of gluten free goods. Their website and Facebook page gave me the impression that the entire bakery was gluten free and though that is definitely not the case, there is a fair amount for you to try. I tried a small loaf of their gluten free bread with a cup of coffee and it was delicious. Were it not so far away from the centre of town, I would have ventured back for more during my stay. I didn't try anything else from the shop at the time but I have read other good reviews. If you have some spare time to kill, it might be worth taking the short metro journey to check this place out. 

Address: Pasticceria Napoleoni, Via Appia Nuova, 590, 00179 Roma, Italy
Website: Tripadvisor Link HERE.
Book in advance? Nope!


The Supermarkets

Rome April 2015-03324

Rome, Italy

People living with coeliac disease in England will know that you're lucky if you have a mediocre gluten-free aisle in your local, large supermarket let alone a smaller store on the high street, so I was excited to find that nearly every shop I walked into in Rome offered gluten free food of some sort. There was gluten free pasta everywhere and as you can see from my face in the picture above, I was both delighted and overwhelmed by the fact! The one thing I did notice was the lack of good looking loafs of bread (think along the lines of genius or UDIs) or other baked goods and breakfast foods, which I can't explain considering how coeliac friendly the whole place is. Perhaps somebody else can?

The hardest thing for me in Rome was trying to find somewhere to have breakfast or breakfast-type foods like breads, pastries, etc. Our hotel kindly offered a selection of gluten free, pre-packaged foods with their breakfast buffet, so we chose to eat there every morning. Given the choice, however, I would have liked something other than rice cakes, meats and cheeses, so it's a shame I couldn't find more choice. Perhaps I didn't look hard enough?

Have you been to Rome and found any other places that are good for people with coeliac disease? Let me know!

1 comment:

  1. you look lovely! the food looks scrumptious

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