If you’re a gluten-free traveler craving pizza, pasta, tiramisu, gelato in a cone, or any classic Italian dishes–fear not! In my gluten-free restaurant guide to Rome I have the best places to eat all the traditional dishes of Roman cuisine, plus a few more delicious finds.
Here’s what we’ll cover in this gluten-free guide to Rome:
- My experience traveling gluten-free in Rome
- Important tips for eating gluten-free in Italy
- What is Roman cuisine & what you can eat if gluten-free
- The best gluten-free restaurants in Rome
- The best gluten-free gelato in Rome
My Experience Traveling Gluten-Free in Rome
Though I’ve now traveled twice in the last 5 years to Rome eating at gluten-free restaurants, my formative experience with the city was during a very different phase of life that involved a lot of vegetarian bolognese, eggplant caponata pasta and all the NON gluten-free Italian meatballs.
It was a six-month long study abroad program, and I was a sassy 19-year-old living in a small walk-up off Campo Di Fiori with five other slightly less sassy students. Though a desire to taste test buffalo mozzarella and find the best amatriciana in town was a big reason for going, once I figured out what my allowance would allow for in euros, I quickly had to re-calibrate the scale of my food pursuits.
My time there was mostly spent eating pizza al taglio, drinking bottles of red table wine in faux wicker baskets, and tracking down the best aperativi spots that offered enough free appetizers to qualify as dinner.
So when it comes to the best gluten-free restaurants in Rome, my experience actually living in the city left me more or less clueless. I was neither gluten-free at the time, or eating at any of the best restaurants!
BUT…and a big but. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise for my last two trips to Rome as a full 30-something adult—one that prevented me from feeling too sad about not being able to revisit my old pizza al taglio spots as a now gluten-free traveler. After all, there were so many new (yet old) places to try now that I could actually afford them.
In Italy, things change at a glacial pace. But I was pleasantly surprised by how far the food culture has come in embracing special diets.
Gelaterias proudly display their sorbetti labeled with a vegan symbol, and most have individually wrapped gluten-free cones for those who needed them. The gluten-free awareness is so pervasive, in fact, that in spite of my non-elastic waistbands, I was able to eat pasta for almost every meal at restaurants in Rome.
Important Tips for Eating Gluten-Free in Italy
In this full gluten-free Tuscany road trip itinerary, I share some of my healthy hedonist tips for making it home with fully functional organs and limbs that don’t resemble noodles. In the meantime, though, here are a few basic pointers for how to eat gluten-free in Italy:
- “Sono celiaca” (if you’re a gal) or “Sono celiaco” (if you’re a dude), is pretty much all you need to say to be properly taken care of. Public awareness for CD is much higher than in the states, with the government going as far as to fund vouchers to buy gluten-free food in Italy. Even the nonna at the local trattoria had corn-based tagliatelle on hand and knew to cook it in a separate pot of water.
- If you’re highly sensitive, consider downloading one of my friend Jodi’s Italian Gluten-Free Restaurant Cards. They’re obsessively tested and very thorough. Available for purchase on her site Legal Nomads.
- I would say that 75 percent of all the restaurants and enotecas we went to had gluten-free pasta or bread. The fancier the establishment, the greater the chances of finding options. But we also came across plenty of mom and pop gluten-free restaurants in Rome that catered to celiacs—many influenced by a member of their own family with the disease.
What is Roman Cuisine & What Can You Eat if Gluten-Free
Roman cuisine, like the “cucina povera” I talk about in my gluten-free guide to Tuscany, is the product of peasant creativity. You’ll find lots of pasta-heavy menus featuring sauces that use bits of cured pork (guanciale in amatriciana, or pancetta in carbonara) and a little pecorino (cacio) to give the sauce a creamy richness.
It’s also a city of street food, from fried suppli or arancini to pizza al taglio, long rectangular pies that are cut to order by the inch.
You won’t find too many entrees that rely on premium cuts of meat or fish, and not as much fresh produce as other parts of the country.
This by in large can make eating in Rome a little more difficult for gluten-free folks than other parts of the country (learn more about the dreamy gluten-free cuisine of Venice here). But since Rome is one of the larger tourist destinations, you will find, like other parts of the country, that MANY restaurants carry gluten-free products for celiacs and are well-versed in cooking for them.
So you can educate yourself and navigate the cuisine as a gluten-free traveler, here are some of the typical dishes you’ll see on a restaurant menu in Rome.
Carciofi (alla Guida or Romana)
Artichokes are one of the few carb-free consistent go-to’s on Roman menus. If they are prepared alla Romana, the artichokes are steamed and served with olive oil and lemon, making them perfect for gluten-free eaters. However, if they are prepared all guida, that means deep frying, so you want to check for flour or cross-contamination with other fried foods like suppli (more on those below).
Pasta Cacio e Pepe, Amatriciana, or Carbonara
The most common traditional pasta shapes in Rome are tonnarelli (a thicker handmade spaghetti) or bucatini (an even chunkier spaghetti with a hole running through the middle).
All three sauces mentioned above are gluten-free by nature. Cacio e pepe is the simplest: grated pecorino and black pepper, which melts into the pasta water to form a creamy sauce.
Amatriciana is a spicy red sauce with cured pork jowl and usually another heap of pecorino on top. And finally, carbonara uses raw egg and pecorino to create a creamy sauce that cooks when tossed quickly with the hot pasta. The pancetta is usually the cherry of sorts on top of this decadent pasta.
These thin, pounded veal cutlets are wrapped in prosciutto and, usually, dredged in flour before pan frying. However, since so many restaurants are considerate of celiacs, you may find some that are willing to forgo the flour for a slightly less traditional, but likely equally delicious meal. I had this made for me at Zi Umberto and it was very satisfying alongside a bowl of cicoria (see below).
Trippa alla Romana
Speaking of peasant food, did I mention that Rome is very much known for its offal? Particularly, its tripe cooked in a luscious red sauce until fork tender. Don’t knock it until you try it! When I studied abroad in Italy I ate this dish every weekend at Osteria Dell’Angelo (mentioned below) and had no idea until months in that it was intestine. I just thought it was tasty meat!
Chicories (Cicoria Ripassata)
This side dish is found in the contorni section of a menu and is usually translated to chicories. In reality this green vegetable, which is usually served sautéed with chiles, garlic and oil, is closer to the dandelion family. With a little lemon on top, it’s absolutely delicious and perfect to offset all the pasta and salty meats.
You may have heard of arancini, which are crispy deep-fried risotto balls with oozy mozzarella stuffed in the middle. Suppli are very similar in concept but usually a little bigger and oval in shape. You’ll see them more commonly called suppli in Rome. Sometimes they’ll have meat or peas inside. And if you go to some of the restaurants below, you might just get to try one…since as you can probably tell, the breading is not usually gluten-free!
Read on for some of my favorite gluten-free friendly restaurants in Rome and what to eat there!
The Best Gluten-Free Restaurants in Rome
Literal translation: I want pizza. And holy moley did I ever want this pizzeria’s pies. There are non-gluten-free options (like a self-contained lasagna on their counter), but Voglia primarily caters to celiacs, and gives us the wood-fired oven crust we’ve all been missing. The portions are very large, so perhaps work in a nap afterwards. And make sure to at least save room for gluten-free tiramisu for dessert! Pro tip: if you happen to be nearby and in need of more, they will transfer it from the Pyrex bowl into a to-go container for you.
My first visit I ate the buffalo pie with arugula (pictured up top), and the second time I got the mushroom one (pictured below). I also tried their suppli, which wasn’t the best one I’ve had in my life, but solid. Read on for the best gluten-free restaurant in Rome for suppli! Lastly, I drank one of the best gluten-free beers of my life, an Italian brand called Igea.
This family-run neighborhood spot is a little bit of a hike, in a suburban area at the end of the 8 tram from Largo Argentina. But if you’re gluten-free it’s well worth the adventure. The restaurant is known for its fried starters, and a handful of them—the suppli, eggplant croquettes and pesto meatballs—are offered fully GF.
They also offer assorted gluten-free pastas, which were perfectly cooked, but I wasn’t as wild about my amatriciana sauce. Maybe I was jaded by the end of the trip? Make sure to ask for the cheese on the side if mountains of pecorino are not your bag. And save room for the panna cotta or creme caramel!
Also, I should note that this restaurant is very beloved by locals and non-gluten-free patrons alike. My husband said it was one of his favorite meals in Italy.
This sleek, modernized family establishment is most well-known for its bakery around the corner. But the restaurant offers gluten-free pasta as a base for their signature carbonara, and bread to use as a vehicle for their legendary charcuterie. It’s definitely on the pricier side, so if you’re staying at an Airbnb nearby, consider getting some prosciutto and antipasti to-go from the cases in the front. If you decide to eat-in, make sure to make a reservation. We walked in at lunchtime, but right when it opened. I highly recommend the hot and cold artichoke salad and the smoked salmon platter.
This is a classic upscale Roman restaurant with salty Italian servers, and a strict policy of seating any non-Italian in the back room. Still, we really enjoyed our meal of delicious artichokes, prosciutto and melon, and beautifully cooked gluten-free spaghetti alla amatriciana. The pasta al muro is very similar to a carbonara, and I had major order envy of everyone around me who got it. Next time, when in Rome…
If you have a longer stay in Rome or have a kitchen at your disposal, I highly recommend checking out this gluten-free market that’s filled to the brim with all types of pasta, cookies, breads, and other packaged foods. The name translates to “I’m called celiac” and I found pasta shapes that I’ve never been able to sample gluten-free, like garganelli, orecchiette, and strozzapreti.
In the front, there is gluten-free pizza al taglio and a whole robust baking case with gluten-free biscotti (cookies) and mignon, which are cream puffs similar to profiteroles. The former was just ok, but the cream puffs were a MUST! I wish I had gotten a whole bag of them.
This humble Osteria is off the beaten path in Prati, a residential neighborhood that borders Vatican City. I used to go every weekend with friends because the food was so good and SO cheap! They still to this day have a prix fix dinner that won’t run you more than $30 a person. I kept telling my husband about it, and then by FATE we stumbled upon it after visiting the gluten-free supermarket (Celiachimo) which is around the corner.
I thought an old school place like this (run by former rugby players) would never carry gluten-free pasta, but they in fact did. Charlie said the cacio e pepe was the single best thing he ate all trip. The Trippa alla Romana is also amazing if you have the courage to try it. I don’t know that I would have had I known what I was eating when I was 20 years old, but I can tell you I enjoyed every bite.
We didn’t try this totally gluten-free restaurant, but I wanted to put it on this list since it has locations in both Trastevere and Vatican City. And has almost everything you could ever want on a Roman menu in gluten-free form! Pizza, suppli, fried calamari, pasta, tiramisu. Go to town. Personally, I thought the food looked better overall at Voglia Pizza, but it’s good to have options.
This white-linened restaurant is on a quaint piazza in centro storico, a short walk from piazza navona, and is the perfect setting for enjoying a whole baked fish or plate of sautéed prawns. Seafood is the name of the game here and it doesn’t come fresher. The market prices aren’t quite as subtle as the orata, but if you’re looking to splurge on a lighter, more refined meal, it’s a good option to have in your back pocket. They offered gluten-free bread and pasta, which is wonderful topped with a seafood amatriciana!
This tiny shop near the Pantheon has a case full of pre-prepared sandwiches made from their homemade foccacia, as well as an assortment of baked goods. I got the tomato and olive foccacia with prosciutto. Like most premade gluten-free sandwiches, it would have been much better well-toasted, but it’s still a good option if you need a takeaway plane meal or a quick bite on the go while you wander. On a random side note: they have a super cute little shop on the side of the store where we found some adorable kids bags and accessories as gifts.
Though sadly closed in August while we were in town, I’ve gotten enough rave reviews of this spot near the Pantheon to recommend it. Make sure to book in advance, even for lunch. They are famous for their spaghetti alla gricia, which can be served with gluten-free pasta. The braised oxtail is also apparently a gluten-free winner.
This restaurant had no gluten-free products, but it’s such a classic I had to mention it for ambience and experience. If you want to try saltimbocca or tripa alla romana, they offered to make many of their entrees gluten-free for me without the flour dredging. I went with the veal and had a lovely side of chicories and potatoes.
The Best Gluten-Free Gelato in Rome
As I mentioned at the start of this post, I LOVE Roman and Italian cuisine, and I try to steer clear of tourist traps or restaurants that specialize in gluten-free food that isn’t actually…well…good. There are a few gelateria’s that are totally gluten-free, including Fatamorgana. But I tried the gelato there and it was too sweet. Not worth the calories, as Prue would say.
Unless you are the type of celiac that won’t eat in any establishment that isn’t 100 percent gluten-free, I would recommend just going to some of the BEST gelaterias in Rome, including my favorite…the iconic Giolitti. They don’t have gluten-free cones there, but the flavors are worth trading the cone for a cup. I highly recommend the Frutti di Bosco, Dark Chocolate (which is dairy-free), Mango and Blackberry.
Many gelaterias have individually wrapped gluten-free cones nowaways and will indicate which flavors are gluten-free. Otherwise, Fatamorgana and Gelateria Fiocco Di Neve are the best bets for gluten-free gelato!
In need of more gluten-free advice for traveling in Italy? Don’t miss my gluten-free road trip guide to Tuscany and the best gluten-free restaurants in Puglia! I have a guide to eating gluten-free in Venice too!
Have any of you recently been to Rome? Any new or old haunts that I should add to my list for next time? I’m dying to go back! Let me know in the comments section