Gluten Free Bologna: Gelato at Il Gelatauro

Bologna is renown throughout Italy and the rest of the world for its gastronomy. A destination for foodies, It’s known as la grassa or ‘the fat one’. The region in which Bologna sits, Emilia-Romagna produces some of the most classic of Italian ingredients. These include Parma ham (prosciutto di Parma), Parmesan cheese (Parmigiano-Reggiano) and balsamic vinegar from Modena. Bologna is said to be the birth place of several pastas including tagliatelle and tortellini whose shape is alleged to be inspired by Venus’s navel.

Interestingly Bologna is one of the few cities without an anglicised name (Rome / Roma, Venice / Venezia, Florence / Firenze etc). Instead folklore has it that Bologna gave a word to the English language; baloney. Baloney is a type of American sausage similar to the Italian mortadella which originated in Bologna. However, we know in more colloquial (American) English, baloney is a term meaning “nonsense”.

When you read an article online which informs you possibly the best gelato in Europe can be found in the city you’re about to visit, if you’re an ice cream lover like me, you’ll be very happy. Having arrived in Bologna and wandered around the impressive Piazza Maggiore, I was itching to follow some of Bologna city centre’s 38 km of porticos along Via San Vitale to Il Gelatauro. For gelato.

Gelato differs from ice cream in that it contains less fat (Gelatauro’s contains only 7% fat) which means that gelato freezes less solidly than ice cream. Gelato is also served at a warmer temperature than ice cream which so it melts faster when you do finally get your highly expectant mitts onto it.

Il Gelatauro offer plenty of traditional flavours as well as some inventive combinations to try. A small selection of the gelato on offer here:

The owners are from Calabria (the ‘toe’ of southern Italy) and many of the flavours and ingredients reflect this region. These include gelato made with Sicilian Bronte pistachios, or Principe de Calabria which I looked up later is flavoured with jasmine and bergamot or even Japanese smoked green tea flavour. Oranges grown on the owners’ own citrus grove are shipped up to Bologna to make the gelato.

I went traditional with cioccolato and crema.

So how did the gelato taste? Extraordinarily good. The texture was so smooth it could have been made from silk. It tasted creamy and the chocolate was so deeply intense that I found myself rooted to the spot outside the door of the shop; forget walking, all I could do was focus on savouring each mouthful.

Was this the best gelato I’ve ever eaten? In my humble opinion, yes. No baloney.


Il Gelatauro, Via San Vitale, 98, 40125 Italy

Opening hours: Daily 8am to 11pm (closed August)


A Gluten Free Guide To London: Eating Out

Coming to London on holiday? Or a Londoner looking for safe places to eat out in our exciting capital city? The restaurants I’ve listed below in my Gluten Free Guide to London: Eating Out have been chosen because I’ve visited them and know they can offer a good, reliable gluten free dining experience. Perhaps chain restaurants may not be everyone’s idea of a gastronomic meal out, however the advantage they have for the allergic or intolerant diner is that many have allergy menus and procedures in place to cook safely for those with food sensitivities.

Light Bites

Pod – Plenty of gluten free breakfast including porridge (which comes gluten free as standard) and they offer gluten free bread. Lunch ideas include veggie packed salads, nori wraps and hot dishes from a regularly updated menu along with individually wrapped gluten free (and some nut free) sweet treats are on offer at this growing chain. Clear allergy labelling is shown against the dishes on the menu boards. £

Eliot’s Cafe – If you are into food markets, this cool little restaurant with a daily changing menu is perfectly situated for Borough market. I booked a table for Saturday brunch (of delicious leek, goat’s cheese and Jersey Royal frittata) here via OpenDining with a note on my dietary restrictions. I was extremely impressed they called me back within 10 minutes to confirm they could safely cater for me. Check their website for opening times. ££

Starbucks – Offer gluten free sandwiches or wraps (fillings change from time to time), salads and cakes. The packaging does not shout about the wraps being gluten free so it may be worth asking if they have any in stock if you can’t immediately see them. The gluten free cakes are usually unwrapped (and thus present a possible cross contamination risk) but it’s possible to ask for a wrapped one from behind the counter. £

WAGfree Cafe – Gluten and wheat free cafe and bakery serving a great choice of gluten free pasta, toasties, cakes, biscuits in great atmosphere of Brixton Village. WAGfree also supply their wonderful products to Selfridges in London. Check their website here for location and current opening hours. £

Refuel on the Tourist Trail

Tate Modern – Offers gluten free options as well as delicious gluten free cakes if you need a sugar fix with a slice of modern art. £

The Natural History Museum – lots of gluten free options in The Restaurant (including fantastic gluten free pizza), a dedicated buggy park and plenty of high chairs. ££

Royal Academy – The Peyton & Byrne restaurant has been very accommodating in adapting dishes to be gluten free on numerous Friday night visits. They also do gluten free chocolate cake. ££

British Museum – Offers gluten free Afternoon Tea for a very reasonable £18. Advance notice required. ££

Reasonably Priced Lunch or Dinner

Honest Burgers – The original location is in the thriving culinary centre that is Brixton Village but they are expanding their restaurants all over London. Honest serves arguably London’s best burger in a gluten free bun along with house chips (French fries) with rosemary salt which can’t be beaten. They even offer gluten free Daura beer! If you only had time to visit one gluten free place for lunch in London, I would choose either Honest or Leon. £

Leon – Possibly my favourite place for a healthy quick lunch with a wide choice of gluten free options such as felafel served with rice and slaw is my favourite. Clear and well displayed allergy labelling. They have a good kid’s menu and welcome small people with pencils, paper and smiles. Branches located all over London and expanding. Can be found landside at Heathrow T3, King’s Cross and Folkestone Eurotunnel for any Eurostar travellers. £

La Polentaria – This friendly Italian restaurant located in the centre of Soho specialises in, you’ve guessed it, polenta based dishes. Everything on the menu – even lasagne and tiramisu – is gluten free. La Polentaria has Coeliac UK accreditation, meaning a safe option for Coeliacs eating out in central London. ££

Itsu – A chain of good sushi restaurants located all over London and even airside at Heathrow T5. Itsu offer a good range of gluten free options which are shown on their website here. They do not offer gluten free soy sauce but this may change in the future, so do ask. £

Wahaca – Chain of Mexican restaurants set up by a former Masterchef winner. There is a gluten free menu, waiters are (normally) very clued up and there are plenty of gluten free options. There is one branch located near to Trafalgar Square/Covent Garden and Olympic Park visitors can get their taco fix in the Wahaca at the Westfield shopping mall, Stratford. ££

ASK Italian, Zizzi, Carluccio’s, Pizza Hut and Bella Italia – These Italian chain restaurants which are easily found all over London all offer gluten free menus. Carluccio’s is my favourite for pasta, even offering this laminated gluten free menu. I prefer the gluten free pizza at ASK Italian££

Gourmet Burger Kitchen – Offer gluten free buns made by bFree. Sadly, they don’t offer gluten free fries but their burgers are delicious.

Something Special

Perhaps you’d like a special romantic meal? Or maybe you’d like to entertain a client (or even better, be entertained?). London has many excellent and Michelin starred restaurants and the majority of these will be able to cater for gluten free diets without fuss by adapting the dishes. Good restaurants do get booked up long in advance so if you have somewhere special in mind, make sure you call in advance and reserve a table. At the same time, notify the restaurant of your dietary restrictions, discuss with them how they will handle cooking for you and ask they confirm which menu options would be suitable for you.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at the Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park – voted top 5 restaurant in the world, this 2 Michelin star restaurant delivers spectacular British food from historical recipes. I’ve been lucky to go three times and on each occasion they’ve catered both gluten free and nut free effortlessly. ££££

The Ledbury – This 2 Michelin star restaurant in Notting Hill has won a slew of awards. The menu focuses on the best of British produce in its stunning dishes. The food was delicious but I found the interior décor, whilst stylish, to be a bit lacking in atmosphere. Perhaps just the January night I visited. ££££

Le Gavroche –  Michel Roux Jr’s 2 Michelin star restaurant achieved the near impossible and catered not only gluten and nut free but also for me when I was in the early stages of pregnancy and suffering from extreme morning all day sickness. This was no mean feat since it meant no shellfish and – pregnant or not – I refuse to eat any red meat when cooked well done.

Nopi – Lebanese / Middle Eastern / Asian influenced dishes. Many naturally gluten free options or can be easily adapted which means your (non gluten free) dining companions should be very happy with the choice of gluten free sharing dishes. £££

Hakkasan – Think you can’t eat gluten free Chinese? Think again! With one day’s notice the kitchen can prepare dishes such as Golden Fried Soft Shell Crab gluten free and without the risk of cross contamination. The interior of this Michelin starred restaurant is dark, sexy and I particularly love the pink mojitos here. ££££

Nobu– Japanese food in this well known celeb spot on Park Lane. They were incredibly helpful with gluten free dining and provided me with gluten free soy sauce. ££££

Rivington Grill – On a recent visit I had notified their Shoreditch location in advance of my dietary restrictions. When I arrived the chef had pre-prepared a menu for me with the items I could eat indicated. Menu focuses on modern British cuisine and has a lovely brasserie feel. Olympic visitors may find the Greenwich location convenient. £££

Polpo – Arrived in London without making any plans? This Italian bacaro in Soho could be the place for you as they don’t take advance reservations. Reasonable selection of gluten free dishes to share. However, it scores extra points with me since they were playing The Smiths the last time I ate dinner there! £££

Something Different

Fish & Chips – No trip to London could be complete without fish and chips! On Tuesday evenings, Olley’s in Brockwell Park offers this great British tradition in gluten free batter. Olley’s is 10 minutes by overland train from Victoria station to Herne Hill. ££

Indian – How about a curry (or ‘Ruby Murray’ in Cockney rhyming slang) on Brick Lane in London’s East End? This busy and vibrant street on the eastern edge of the City, London’s financial district is home to numerous restaurants from the Indian sub-continent. Indian food uses mainly non-wheat based flours making it an ideal choice for the gluten intolerant diner but obviously discuss cross contamination issues as you would in any restaurant. Not keen on spicy food? That’s OK, there are dishes such as korma or passanda which are less spicy. Indian food is also offers an excellent choice for vegetarians. ££

Gluten Free Afternoon Tea – Why not celebrate just being in one of the world’s most exciting cities by treating yourself to that quintessentially English tradition of Afternoon Tea?  Many of the top London hotels offer gluten free afternoon tea alongside their regular afternoon tea menus. Some also cater for additional dietary requirements such as diabetic and vegan. The best afternoon teas can be found at Brown’s HotelClaridges Hotel, and Fortnum & Mason. The Sanderson Hotel offers a Mad Hatter’s themed gluten free afternoon tea. Prices vary but budget for around £40 per person. Afternoon Tea is VERY popular and weekend slots can be booked weeks or even months in advance so please plan ahead and reserve if at all possible. £££

What are your favourite gluten free places to eat in London? Please do leave a comment below and help fellow travellers to London, along with residents, get the best out of gluten free London.