Rome: The Gluten Free Suitcase Guide

My earliest memories of Rome are full of gluten – a smorgasbord of pasta, pizza, arancini, pastries and more. Going gluten free definitely made me fear that this city – a long-standing favourite holiday destination of my family’s – would never be the same again. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Like much of Italy, Rome takes coeliac disease and gluten free eating incredibly seriously and if anything there is now too much choice! I have pulled all my favourites together into one handy guide and I highly recommend you work your way through all of these gems! Buon appetito!

Le Altre Farine del Mulino

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One of the newer additions to the Roman gluten free scene, Le Altre Farine del Mulino is a 100% gluten free bakery near the Vatican. With an epic cake, sweet and pastry selection as well as lactose free options, Le Altre Farine is an ideal spot for breakfast or a snack on a sightseeing day. I loved the calzone here so much I had two – so make sure you grab one to go!

Where?
Via di Porta Cavalleggeri, 151/153
00165 Rome, Italy

Pasticceria Napoleoni Gluten Free

Located next to the Colli Albani metro station, Pasticceria Napoleoni is an impressive bakery with a dedicated gluten free counter and cake fridge. I sampled a selection of pastries when I was last there and they did not disappoint. At lunchtime, fresh sandwiches, pizza and other savoury delights are brought out. Worth stopping here for a coffee and some people watching, especially at breakfast time when some of Rome’s busiest espresso drinkers appear. Closed on Mondays.

Where?
Via Appia Nuova, 590
00179 Roma RM, Italy

A Gogo – Gluten Free

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Another regular bakery with impressive gluten free options, A Gogo offers a variety of cakes and savoury snacks, which are displayed in their own separate counter. I had some of the best arancini that Rome has to offer, which I took to go and fuelled me during a busy day of walking. Make sure you check for any daily specials as A Gogo sometimes changes up its gluten free offerings.

Where?
Viale Giulio Cesare 66/68
00192 Rome, Italy

Celiachiamo Lab

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I cannot explain the excitement I felt when I cam across Celiachiamo Lab – a 100% new hot spot which is home to both a supermarket and bakery. I found a huge array of gluten free items I had never seen before and of course couldn’t resist buying them to fill up my suitcase. The pastry selection is outrageous, with Nutella-stuffed croissants, tarts, cakes, freshly baked bread and much much more. Celiachiamo also sells hot pizza by the slice with dairy free options available too. A MUST visit!

Where?
Via della Magliana, 183
00146 Roma, Italy

Pandali

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Pandali is another 100% gluten free bakery situated near to the Pantheon. It is open every day of the week for late breakfast and lunch, and specials change most days, with wholesome vegan salad bowls, arancini, pizza and sandwiches on rotation. Pandali also has a huge array of cookies and cakes, some of which are dairy free. Don’t forget to order a gluten free beer to wash all the treats down with!

Where?
Via di Torre Argentina 3
00186 Roma, Italy

Grom

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Our favourite gluten free gelateria has multiple locations across Rome, which means we can indulge in gelato worry-free! The joys of eating ice cream in a cone will never get old for me, especially as the ones on offer in Grom do not taste gluten free in the slightest. Grom has also added several other sweet treats to its menu including brioche, cookies and fantastic hot chocolate. Check the company website for your nearest branch in Rome.

Voglia di Pizza

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My original favourite in Rome, Voglia di Pizza is home to some of the best pizza I have ever had. The dough is so good, I cried the first time I ate here seven years ago and have been going back ever since. The pasta options are also vast, as well as a number of deep fried starters like supli and arancini. Voglia di Pizza takes dietary requirements incredibly seriously and places a little flag in each and every gluten free dish they serve. Don’t forget to save room for a gluten free tiramisu to finish!

Where?
Via dei Giubbonari, 33
00186 Roma, Italy

Mama Eat Gluten Free

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I’ve eaten a number of fantastic meals at Mama Eat – including some of the best gluten free rigatoni I’ve ever tried and brilliant arancini, deep fried mozzarella and pizza dough. All the gluten free food is prepared in a separate kitchen to avoid cross contamination so it is an entirely worry-free environment. The staff are clued up and the service is perfect and it is no wonder this restaurant is always packed! Open 7 days a week and well worth a visit (or two).

Where?
Via di S. Cosimato, 7/9
00153 Roma RM, Italy

Mama Eat Street Food

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A grab and go branch of the above mentioned Mama Eat restaurant, this 100% gluten free hole-in-the-wall eatery is located close to the Vatican and perfect for lunch. On the menu is a selection of pizzas, arancini, fried seafood, and a monster meatball and fries combo which I feasted on in the street, barely breathing as I was eating it so fast. While the restaurant is advertised as street food and light bites, I strongly advise you go hungry – the portions are incredibly generous.

Where?
Borgo Pio, 28
00193 Roma Italy

La Soffita Renovatio

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Eating here was truly one of the best dining experiences I have ever had. The gluten free menu is mind-blowing and even includes homemade ravioli, which I enjoyed in a classic butter and sage sauce and fantastic pizza. Start your meal with a generous serving of calamari and fried zucchini because why not. It’s easy to not have enough room for dessert after a meal here so I highly recommend you take it to go. Ask your waiter for the daily cake options and prepare to be amazed! Booking in advance to avoid disappointment is recommended.

Where?
Piazza del Risorgimento 46/a
00192 Rome, Italy

Pantha Rei

Another gem tucked behind the Patheon, Pantha Rei offers up a fantastic gluten free menu upon request and does everything it can to ensure there is no cross contamination in its restaurant. I turn into a creature of habit whenever I visit, and usually order gnocchi (who here is surprised?) which never disappoints. Wash it down with gluten free beer or a lovely glass of Italian wine for the ultimate and relaxed lunch or dinner experience.

Where?
Via della Minerva 19
00186 Roma, Italy

Il Viaggio

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If you’re in the mood for some fine dining while in Rome, Il Viaggio offers a delicate twist on many classic Italian dishes and a tasting menu for those with a bit more time on their hands. All the menu can be made gluten free and again, the staff here take dietary requirements incredibly seriously and the restaurant is accredited by the Italian Coeliac Association. The homemade gluten free bread is delicious and a great pre-cursor to a lovely main course. I enjoyed gluten free cannelloni last time I ate at Il Viaggio and hope it’s still on the menu when I next go back!

Where?
Via Isonzo 14
00198 Rome, Italy

McDonald’s

Yes, you read right! McDonald’s in Rome, like the rest of Italy offers a gluten free burger and cheeseburger and safely fried French fries to those of you who are in the mood for something fast! Check the Mcdonald’s company website for your nearest branch in Rome.

Kaliyoga

Since becoming gluten free, travelling has become a tall task. Exploring the world, anyone with allergies, intolerances or autoimmune diseases will know, always involves a lot of research, preparation and a significant amount of stress upon arrival to ensure that eateries will cater well and not result in illness. It is incredibly unusual therefore, that I get the chance to travel to a 100% gluten free destination. Being invited with my good friend Alice (@glutenfreealice) to experience not only the yoga on offer at Kaliyoga but the totally free from cuisine too was a huge privilege.

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Kaliyoga was founded by Rosie and Jonathon Miles back in 2002, who ventured to Spain in search of a location for a brand new yoga retreat. It was there, in the Alpujarra region in Andalucia, that they set up the first branch and 11 years later went on to establish a sister retreat in Puglia, Italy. The retreats offer a 6 day yoga experience, with cycling or walking activities too and work according to three basic principles: truth, wisdom and love. Guests are served three beautiful vegan meals a day, put together by a hard working team with guest seasonal chefs who all share one thing in common – a passion for delicious, plant-based food.

I had never followed a vegan diet before and what I was met with on day one totally exceeded my expectations. Upon arrival, we were met by the smell and sight of freshly baked gluten free bread, summer minestrone soup and beautiful, vibrant salads with mounds of crunchy seeds and herbs. “People fail to realize that there are a hundred times more vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and grains than there are animal products,” guest chef Francesca, who has a vegan catering business in her hometown of Colorado, told me in an interview. “When you realize this, you start to see cooking vegan as a limitless possibility of flavors, textures and combinations, and cooking with the natural foods the earth grows and the sun nourishes is a truly beautiful thing,” Francesca added.

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Obviously elated that everything on the menu was gluten free, I could not wait to see what other delicious concoctions Francesca had in store for us. “A fully gluten free kitchen is very important to Kaliyoga,” Francesca told me. Founders Rosie and Jonathon began to see the demand for coeliac friendly cuisine several years ago and decided to make the switch to ensure that it was a totally inclusive space. “Before coming to work for Kaliyoga, I wasn’t a fully GF chef, but working here and eating the food I’ve been making made me realize that gluten free can sometimes mean much more natural and wholesome foods that are very high in fiber and minerals,” Francesca said, listing buckwheat flour for pasta or almond or sorghum flour for use in pizza crusts as her top discoveries in the kitchen.

Francesca admitted that gluten free cooking is sometimes challenging, especially when it comes to baking. “It’s definitely a science and it takes a bit of manoeuvring but once you get to know your best flours (mine are: quinoa flour, buckwheat, brown rice, almond flour, organic corn flour, chickpea flour) then the rest is just practice,” she said.

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The food choices were always a welcome surprise, and the menus kept a secret until the moment of the meal. As someone who cooks a lot for friends and family, I was positively overwhelmed to be free from decision making in this regard for a week and presented instead with colourful, filling meals each day, which at dinnertime involved three delicious courses. I don’t think I will ever forget the taste, texture and smell of the homemade pumpkin gnocchi I was served one night, which came tossed in a spicy red pepper sauce with local asparagus on the side, or the smooth fennel and pear soup which came topped with local olive oil and crunchy seeds.

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Desserts always exceeded expectations – a course which was undoubtedly won by the raw cheesecake with berry coulis and fresh strawberries. On two days, the non vegan crowd were surprised with a selection of local cheeses and eggs to accompany brunch, which were all delectable and allowed us to sample more of the local Puglian produce.

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After just 24 hours at Kaliyoga and three yoga classes lead by the incredible Tashi Dawa, I already felt a release. My body was less tense, my mind less heavy and my stomach free of complaints. I totally embraced the opportunity to be caffeine and alcohol free for the week, which allowed me to focus on my yoga practice and nourishment – two things which I had rarely given time to back home in London.

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It is also easy to be relaxed at Kaliyoga. When you’re not taking part in a yoga class, or cycling in the countryside, the environment onsite encourages tranquility and breaks from social media or technology. When I first heard this I will admit I was nervous, as my lifestyle means I am usually glued to my phone. There was however something incredibly refreshing about removing myself from the outside world, and totally focusing on rejuvenating my mind and being kind to my body, which included spending time with the retreat dogs, Tommy and Akira and their friend – Nabuco the donkey.

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Rejuvenation also came thanks to the food I was eating. Gluten free food can often be full of sugar and unpronounceable ingredients but at Kaliyoga I was able to consume food that was only doing my body good, which is a feeling so great, I honestly can not put it down into words. Thank you, Kaliyoga for such a wonderful and refreshing experience – I am already planning my return and cannot wait for more yoga, peace and gnocchi!

For more information and to book your stay at Kaliyoga, please visit the company website