Gluten Free Italy: Bella Vista Pizzeria, Lake Garda

My global quest to discover the world’s best gluten free pizza is well documented both on this blog and via my Instagram/Twitter feeds. So epic is this quest I sometimes wonder whether this blog should be called (with a large nod to Kelly) Around the World in 80 Gluten Free Pizzas. Except my tally of gluten free pizzas consumed around the world now far exceeds 80. Sorry? Not really, no.

So when I took a trip to Lake Garda on our recent weekend in Verona, I was particularly happy to discover that in the town we were visiting there was a highly rated pizzeria offering gluten free options.

Restaurant Bella Vista Pizzeria located in Peschiera del Garda a small town on the shores of beautiful Lake Garda.


As far as gluten free pizza perfection comes, Bella Vista’s pizza is very high on the list. Why?

Gluten Free Options on the Menu

Not just gluten free pizzas are on offer here, but a whole host of tempting gluten free treats such as gluten free calamari (so long since I had that) fritto misto and more.


Pizza Crust

I like it thin, crispy and cooked in a proper pizza oven. This ticks all boxes!


Toppings

For me the perfect pizza is as they are served in Italy – with just enough topping to taste but definitely not over loaded.
Gluten Free Pizza Lake Garda Italy

Location
What’s not to love about sitting out on a vine covered shady terrace, right next to the sparkling waters of Lake Garda in the May sunshine?


Finally, is there gluten free beer?

Yes there is! Although I stuck to water on this occasion.

Website: Bella Vista Pizzeria

Cost: Under EUR 50 for 2 adult pizzas (one gluten free), 2 children’s meals plus salad, grilled vegetables and drinks. Outstanding value.

Would I go back? You bet! I wish every Sunday lunch could be like this.

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Gluten Free Dorset: Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens

Maybe I’ve watched too many episodes of the TV programme Coast but I’ve wanted to come to Chesil Beach for what seems like forever. Located at the centre of Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, this impressive 18 mile stretch of shingle beach is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Chesil Beach

After sitting on the blustery beach, thinking how much I miss living right by the sea, rolling the super soft pebbles through my hands while watching mini D1 learn how to skim stones (or rather just lob stones) into the sea, we were all ready to have lunch.

Chesil Beach Stones

Just up the lane from the beach car park (there are surprisingly few access points onto Chesil Beach) is the Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens. This turned out to be a double surprise. Not only were the gardens beautiful – subtropical gardens are not usually my kind of thing – but the Colonial Restaurant had a fantastic selection of gluten free items on the menu. Just look how many items here are noted as gluten free or dairy free!

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I wavered slightly between ordering a peri peri chicken or a jacket potato (I needed to warm up after sitting on a windy beach) but instead went for something which was adjusted to be gluten free to see how that was; grilled steak and onion baguette.

Gluten Free Steak Baguette

The steak was tender and I loved having the onions with it. I’m not sure who makes these gluten free rolls but they didn’t crumble. Perfect lunch.

I was too full to try one of the gluten free cakes on offer (there were several choices) but there’s always room for a fantastic locally produced ice cream!

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A few shots of the Subtropical Gardens.

I have never seen so many bluebells as I did during our trip to Dorset. Beautiful carpets of them everywhere, not just in these gardens.

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Loved this walkway – I could almost believe I was on the Italian Riviera.

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Reminding us of our recent trip to Japan:

Japanese garden

Website: Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens

Cost: Under £30 -for a meal for 2 adults and 2 children with drinks

Would I come back: Absolutely. I love being on a beach at any time of the year and visiting the gardens anf the Colonial Restaurant would be a bonus.

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Gluten Free Dorset

Gluten Free Fish and Chips at The Old Harbour, Weymouth

When I recently attended the Free From Food Awards presentation. I was reminded again of the fantastic developments – both in terms of scale and quality – of the free from food sector. Since 2010 when I first started writing this blog the free from retail sector has almost doubled from £278 million to £531 million in 2016, according to Mintel.

Yet that great British meal of fish and chips seems to be one of the last bastions of food to escape the current expansion of gluten free food within the UK. I suppose in no small part this is due to the probable proponents of the current free from market explosion being ‘lifestylers’ – those who choose to eat gluten free as they see it as the healthier option. Consequently, deep fried and battered fish with chips is unlikely to win any converts from this group, even if those with medical reasons not to consume gluten would love to find it more regularly when eating out. When gluten free fish and chips can be found, it’s often limited to once a week (or less frequent) and usually after the fryers have been cleaned and replaced with fresh new oil. (I’ve written before about several notable exceptions to this herehere and here).

So on our recent trip to Dorset I was really happy to discover The Old Harbour, a fish and chip shop in Weymouth which offers gluten free fish and chips every day.

Gluten Free Fish and Chips

The Old Harbour is open 7 days a week and offers gluten free fish and chips on all of them. This fish and chips are cooked separately to avoid cross contamination. You can eat in its restaurant or take out. No need to phone ahead and pre book the gluten free batter either.

I ordered the gluten free haddock. I missed the bit on the menu that noted it was large.

gluten free fish and chips dorset

Large is an understatement. Ginormous, bigger than your head, enough to feed a small army, these would all have been better descriptions of this enormous piece of fish. And yes, it did defeat me.

gluten free fish and chips

The batter wrapped around the fish was crispy and certainly more like a regular, more dense fish batter than I’ve tasted elsewhere.

I could’ve ordered gluten free curry sauce to go with my fish and chips but on this occasion declined. If it’s the one I tasted recently at Olley’s in Herne Hill (and I suspect it would be), then it’s delicious.

They even had gluten free vinegar.

gluten free vinegar

However, Coeliac UK say barley malt vinegar is safe for Coeliacs to eat. But that’s up to you which you’d prefer, the good thing is there’s a choice.

Weymouth itself is very much a typical British seaside resort. Even down to the weather which was murky before we had lunch…..

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And then broke to beautiful sunshine.

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A great day for a cloud spotter like me.

Cost: £28.50 for 2 (enormous) adult portions and 2 children’s meals plus 2 drinks. Fantastic value.
Location: 16 St Edmunds Street, Weymouth, Dorset DT4 8AR
Website: www.theoldharbour.co.uk
Would I go back? I’d love to. But next time I’ll order a smaller portion of fish and will go for the curry sauce

Are you a fish and chip fan? Have you found any great (and safe) gluten free fish and chip restaurants which you’d recommend?

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www.glutenfreemrsd.com