Il Piccolo Focone: Barcelona’s Hidden Italian Gem

My first trip to this hidden gluten free gem was back in 2015 when I was in Barcelona on business. While some say travelling on business without colleagues is lonely, I never complain about having the option to be entirely selfish and pick all of my restaurants and meals without having to reach a compromise! Il Piccolo Focone was top of my list then and remains top of my list now for an unassuming yet sure of itself restaurant. I loved it so much that, a year later, I took my best friend back with me for a lunch on a touristy weekend.

Located a mere four blocks away from Gaudi’s gothic masterpiece Catedral de la Sagrada Familia, Il Piccolo Focone is always full of eaters but stays peacefully tranquil – a sign of just how serious and concentrated its patrons are about the food. We were quiet too, as we tried to decide what in heaven’s name we would order after being given so much choice. The eatery’s extensive menu offers most pasta dishes and pizzas as gluten-free as well as a selection of hot and cold starters, risottos, meat and fish dishes. We decided to share the Alcachofas Fritas (fried artichokes) served with lemon which was no starter for the faint-hearted. What arrived was a mound of perfectly crisp and flavourful artichokes which tasted so good I asked [in fear] for a second explanation of the batter’s ingredients. “No se preocupe Senorita,” our waiter told me, warmly confirming that everything I ordered would be gluten free guaranteed.

Despite my friend being a fully able gluten digester, she opted for the gluten free pizza base also. “If it’s as good as you say it is then I’ll love it”, she said. I wasn’t one to argue because I knew what was coming. I opted for the Capricciosa with artichokes (couldn’t get enough), mushrooms, olives and ham, while my friend chose the Mamma – a pizza covered in ham, chorizo and frankfurters.

The pizza arrived so piping hot that we had to let it cool down – a rare luxury for someone partial to home pizza delivery. The combination of a perfectly seasoned tomato sauce and the creamiest mozzarella I had tried on a pizza in as long as I could remember made the rest of the toppings seem un-necessary at first and I silently wished I had just ordered a Margherita to indulge in satisfying simplicity. I soon moved on from that thought however and remembered just how good the mushroom-artichoke-olive-ham combination really is. We sat there until we had finished without leaving a single crust on the plate, before entering into a satisfying food coma. I had not wanted it to come to an end.

The food coma did not stop us from sampling a gluten free tiramisu – a traditional Italian coffee-flavoured dessert now more widely available as senza glutine but easy to get wrong. We were not disappointed – the dessert, packed perfectly into a glass jar, was rich yet refreshing, and even gave us a much needed caffeine boost to continue our afternoon of sightseeing.

All in all, Il Piccolo Focone is perfect at lunchtime or even at dinnertime, alone or with company. All it requires is that you come hungry to tend to the generous portions. Saying I did not find it hard to adapt to mainstream gluten-free pizzas afterwards though would be a large and unconvincing fib. You have been warned.

Il Piccolo Focone 
Carrer del Dos de Maig 268
08025 Barcelona, Spain
Tel: +34 934 50 24 52
(Tables bookable over the phone)

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