Thursday, February 28, 2013

Italy (Part 2)

My first blog post on our trip to Italy covered general tips, as well as some suggestions of great places to try in Rome. 


Our next stop was Sorrento.  We ate at two places there, which were somewhat similar and both directly on the main square:  Bar Syrenuse and Fauno Bar.  The location of both places was idea for summer dining -- right on the Piazza Tasso with nice outdoor seating.  I personally didn't find the food to be quite as good as the restaurants in Rome, although it was certainly fine and they both had extensive gluten free menus.  They also had huge portions -- around this time, we realized that we weren't required to order multiple courses for each of us, and that sharing appetizers was probably a wiser choice. Of the two, we preferred Bar Syrenuse and ate there twice  I had come across the following possibilities as well during our preparation:  Da Gignio, Villa Rubinaci, Osteria La Stalla, Ristorante Pizzeria La Fenice and Miccio Tratoria Pizzeria:.  If it wasn't the summer, and if the outdoor seating on the square wasn't so pleasant, and if the square wasn't one block from our hotel we might have investigated further, but  . .

Also, we only ate dinners out in Sorrento.  For breakfast and lunch, we got provisions at the local grocery store and Famacia -- the one near the main square had a lot of gluten free food to choose from. 


 After Sorrento, we spent a few nights at an Agriturisimo (Agriturisimo Nobile) in a vineyard right outside the hill town of Montepuliciano.  We rented a small apartment with a kitchen, although we didn't actually cook anything!  However, we eat simple breakfasts and lunches there, relying on food from the markets, the grocery store and the Farmacia.  We found some great places for dinner.  The first night, we had a four course, home cooked meal -- just for us -- prepared by the owners of our Agriturisimo, with Tuscan specialties (and lots of wine).  They bought gluten free pasta for us, and prepared it separately from the regular pasta.  We had alerted the Agriturisimo in advance of our dietary restriction and when we got there made sure that she read the Italian restaurant card o double check that the ingredients were indeed gluten free. 

By the way, on the drive to Tuscanny, we stopped at the standard highway eatery, which was astonishing for us, as Americans used to the typical fast food joints you get on our highways.  The Italian rest stops had 2 course meals, fresh mozzarella cheese and even wine.  We had brought our own food, but I don't think it would have been hard to find something tasty and gluten free.

Another night in Tuscanny we ate at La Locanda de Vino Nobile.  This restaurant was in S.Albino di Montepulciano, the town next to the old town of Montepulciano, but quite close to where we were staying.  Their gluten free menu included home made gluten free pici, a special pasta from that area of Tuscanny, and it was very good.

Our best find in Tuscanny  turned out to be one we hadn't researched in advance -- we found it by using the restaurant listing search on the Italian celiac webiste. ) Ristorante La Taverna Del Barbarossa, is in the town of San Quirico d'orica .  It had an extensive menu, including gluten free pici and lots of other pastas,  and beautiful outside seating overlooking fantastic views.  We liked it so much the first night, we went back again.


We ended our trip with a few nights in Florence.  Unfortunately, our first meal there was the one real culinary disappointment of the trip.  Le Botteghe di Donatello has a gluten free menu and a great location with outdoor seating right next to the Duomo.  However, I thought the food was so-so and the service very indifferent -- quite a contrast from what we had experienced almost every where else. 

Luckily, things improved after the first night.  Our favorite place in Florence was Coquinarious, a small encota near the Duomo -- make reservations, as they do fill up.  They don't have a specific gluten free menu, but do usually keep gluten free pasta on hand and seemed very knowledgeable about what was gluten free.  The staff was also very friendly and accommodating.  We liked it so much we went there twice.

We also had a very enjoyable lunch at Obika Mozzarella Bar, set in a beautiful palazzo.  They don't have a specific gluten free menu either, but they have lots of salad options -- and specialize in serving various varieties of mozzarella.  The restaurant is actually part of a chain (although it certainly didn't look like one!) and has locations elsewhere in Italy, including Rome, and in London and New York.

We stayed at Hotel Perseo, which offered a hearty continental breakfast -- including gluten free cereal, cookies, crackers and breads. 

Florence is known for its gelato, and there were lots of artisinal places, such as Grom, with gluten free options.  I had read about a gluten free bakery, which we never got to:  Il Fresca Senza Glutine.  Other restaurants on our list which we never got to try include:  Hostaria il Desco, Ciro and Sons (known for its gluten free pizza, but this must be ordered a day in advance), i 'Toscano, Risorante Giglio Rosso, Cammillo Trattoria, Florence-, The Clubhouse and Il Portale.  Just make sure to double check hours and closing days -- a lot of restaurants are closed on Sunday and/ or Monday.


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A teen and her family's experiences living gluten-free.