Our Italy trip was, of course, going to be about eating and drinking well for two weeks. We got that kicked off right away on our first night in Rome. Knowing we would be jet lagged and coming from a soccer match earlier that afternoon, we planned ahead and made reservations at a restaurant near St. Peter’s Basilica. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from a decade of serious traveling, it’s that you should plan your first meal post-arrival. There’s nothing more frustrating as being in a new place, tired and hungry.
Armed with great recommendations from some gluten-free bloggers (thanks!), we arrived at La Soffitta Renovatio about forty five minutes after leaving Stadio Olimpico. Not personally in need of their gluten free menu, I opted for an Italian beer, a Peroni rossa, to quench my thirst from sitting in the sun all afternoon:
We decided on the prosciutto and mozzarella di bufala as a first course. The cheese was incredible and that prosciutto was up there with the best I’ve eaten. So good, we only remembered to snap a picture as we were close to finishing:
The restaurant had a dedicated gluten free menu, which made for easy ordering on our first night. They even tell you that your food will have a flag in it if it’s gluten free and that if you get something without a flag, don’t eat it. My wife ordered the gluten free gnocchi in a ragu sauce. Here she is exhibiting very Italian behaviour for someone who had been on Roman soil for six hours at this point…. her attention got diverted to a small TV showing a Roma football match just as they scored a goal and all the restaurant staff started to cheer:
That gnocchi was outstanding and up there with the best of the trip, whether gluten free or glutenous (and trust me, I ate my share of gnocchi over the two weeks!).
I was debating ordering something a bit more adventurous, but the combination of being tired and very hungry pushed me toward a pizza. I’m so glad I ordered this. A very simple pizza with basil, tomato sauce and mozzarella di bufala (sense a trend?) was quite honestly the best pizza I had ever had until this point in my life. The crust alone was heavenly with a great chew to it and just a bit of saltiness. To emphasize how good this pizza was, we ended up back at this restaurant two other times, and I ordered pizza on each visit.
We opted against dessert at the restaurant, secure in the knowledge that a short walk from our hotel in the Monti neighbourhood was one of Rome’s best gelato joints. Tucked away on a quiet street not too far from the Cavour metro stop is Fatamorgana. This place has gluten free cones and assures that all of its gelato is gluten free. If you’re visiting Rome, be careful if you are a celiac, a lot of gelato in the city contains gluten as filler.
Here’s my beautiful wife holding our treats (I got mine on a GF cone so we could share since I wasn’t so generous with my pizza earlier in the evening).
I can’t remember what flavour my wife had, but I chose the pear and wine gelato which was a perfect cap to the most Roman of days – a football match, a great meal, and a gelato during an evening walk. We were off to a perfect culinary start in Italy.