Unbeknownst to most including myself until just before my trip, Italy has one of the highest rates of Celiac in Europe (please refer to the AIC‘s site for more information). The general population is tested for Celiac during early childhood. Because of this most restaurants are aware of the disease. With this knowledge I was convinced that Rome was going to be an eating paradise and it was. If you are concerned about making your gluten issues clear in restaurants, print yourself this card Italian Celiac / Coeliac Gluten Free Restaurant Card) and hand it out to your server. After a long and beautiful train ride D & I arrived in Rome. It was late by the time we got to the hotel and checked in so we decided not to venture out. The following day we made a plan to visit various ancient ruins and ultimately end up at Obika Mozzarella Bar for lunch. Rome is not the easiest city to navigate, but with two maps and a smart phone we finally found it. Unfortunately for you I do not have pictures of our visit to Obika Mozzarella Bar, but I do have a link to their menu. As I am sure you have figured out by now this restaurant serves mozzarella, several varieties in fact. I had the Stracciatella di Burrata (Buffalo mozzarella with cream filled center) and handmade Mortadella. It was absolutely incredible – so creamy and delightful! The mouth feel was indescribable. Don’t forget to bring your gluten-free crackers to this little slice of heaven.
Another sunny afternoon D and I decided to try a restaurant recommended to me by a dear friend, Miraggio. She said, “The food is incredible. If you go you must order the riso al crema di scampi, it is amazing. Also, if they have the lasagna, (which my friend’s grandmom makes) you must get it.” Clearly our entrees were decided for us, that was a no brainer. She continued by saying, “Definitely get carciofi if you like artichokes, they are famous in Rome, either alla giudea, which are fried and crispy and taste like potato chips, or alla romana, stuffed.” Sadly we could not try the artichokes, because they aren’t in season in July. “Also something I love and they only seem to have in Rome is cicoria ripasata, which is like bitter spinach sautéd in olive oil, garlic and chili peppers….”
*If you go at lunch to Miraggio, keep in mind that restaurants in Rome, and Italy in general, are open for lunch from around 12:00-2:30, then they close until dinner around 7:00-11:00.
Well what can I say, the food is incredible! We started with mussels and clams in a white sauce and mussels in a red sauce. The clams were sweet and delicate. The mussels were smaller than the ones we get in the U.S., and very tender. The tomatoes in the red sauce were so delicious that I continued eating them even after finishing all the mussels. I let Dave enjoy the sauce with his bread. Next we had two sides of greens, chicory (cicoria ripasata) and rapini/broccoli rabe. The flavor of each green was unique, however both were slightly bitter, sweet and garlicky with a little spice. As I mentioned above, Dave ordered the lasagna (this is not gluten-free), and said it was the BEST he had ever eaten. He remarked on how the pasta was cooked al dente, something he had never experienced in a lasagna before. I ordered the riso al crema di scampi, which was divine. The rice was firm and the sauce was creamy; basically it tasted like a rich lobster bisque (except it was shrimp) and, just as impossible to stop eating. Perfect harmony is the only way to put it. We decided to come back at least one more time.Now for the pizza, the food this gluten-free gal searches for wherever she goes. After a little research on TripAdvisor, I found a place with a gluten-free menu serving gluten-free (senza glutine in Italian) pizza called Voglia Di Pizza.
My heart skipped a beat when I read the reviews. The gluten-free pizza at home is a far cry from my beloved favorite food, but in Rome how would I fare? Would it be all I had hoped for? Let’s put it this way, I went two days in a row. The first time I went I had a margarita pizza and it was good, damn good. I ate the whole thing while watching the patrons around me unable to finish theirs. During our second visit both Dave and I ordered the Diavlo pizza with spicy salami. Mine was gluten-free and his was not. Please observe the bit of crust from Dave’s pizza showing in the picture, it looks just like mine. Both days the pizza was thin, but not soggy. The crust had a tasty char on the edges, but wasn’t burnt or a crunchy cracker. I don’t know how they did it, but the consistency was crunchy, chewy and cheesy. It was the closest thing I have had to a gluten filled pizza.
The day before we left we FINALLY found a grocery store. These places are so hidden that it was pure luck to have found one. We bought wine, prosecco and water (still and sparkling/frisante) for a fraction of the price of anywhere else. As well as finding the grocery we also found an incredible salumerie, Rosciolo. Apparently it’s also a bakery and restaurant, but we were there for the meat and cheese.
On our first pass at the store we bought some Iberico ham, pecorino and roasted tomatoes in olive oil. We walked down the street to a church, sat down on the steps and began eating. I had gluten-free crackers in my bag that worked perfectly. On our way back we passed the store again. This time we were ready to lay down some euros and go whole hog. We ordered various cured hams (Iberico, prosciutto and a Portuguese one), Mortadella, burrata, more pecorino and more roasted tomatoes in olive oil. We took this back to our room and made a picnic.
Rome is a wonderful city. I only wish I had more time to explore all it has to offer. There were more restaurants to try, streets to explore and sites to see. I have just broken the surface and I am ready to go back and see what is beneath.
Obika Mozzarella Bar
Piazza Campo dei Fiori – corner Via dei Baullari
00186 – Roma
Tel.: +39 06 68802366
Open everyday from 8 am to 2 am.
From 6.00 pm “Aperitivo Obikà” with little mozzarella “bocconcini” and tastings
Via della Lungara 16, Rome, Italy
Voglia Di Pizza
Via Dei Giubbonari 33
00186 Roma (RM)
phone 06 6875293
Via dei Giubbonari, 21
Tel: 06 6875287
DS Pizza Point
This shows 460 gluten-free pizza locations throughout Italy