Gluten free Bologna

Gluten Free Bologna: Pizzeria Ristorante Pepperoni

Oh, Bologna. You had me at gelato.

And then you delivered a gluten free pizza of epically fabulous proportions.

Prior to dining at Pizzeria Ristorante Pepperoni in Bologna, the winner in my quest for the best pizza senza glutine was this one in Milan. In fact it was the first I’d tried and all subsequent gluten free pizzas have been measured against the wonderful taste of this pizza where I’d watched the chef slice off prosciutto crudo directly onto my pizza as it had emerged steaming hot from the wood fired oven.

As usual, before visiting Bologna I’d researched our options and had discovered there were no gluten free pizza restaurants in the centre of town. There were reports of one pizzeria slightly out of town making several diners unwell so I knew which one to avoid. The nearest seemed to be La Pantera Rosa who have several locations just outside the centre of Bologna and which have good reports on TripAdvisor from diners who’ve eaten gluten free pizza there. But just like in Milan where the hotel concierge had found a pizzeria my research hadn’t, some local knowledge from our hotel receptionists got us to Pizzeria Pepperoni. I’d asked the hotel to check La Pantera Rosa was serving gluten free pizza and asked to book a table. The receptionist frowned, “I have another recommendation for you – Pepperoni’s, it’s very good and the normal pizzas are fantastic”. I remembered I’d seen this restaurant recommended on the Italian Coeliac Society website (a guide I always use and trust when in Italy) but had discounted Pepperoni’s as being too far away. It was in fact 10 minutes in a taxi and cost about €12 which, it turned out, was a very small price to pay.

Pepperoni’s is located on one of the lush green hills overlooking Bologna that I’d climbed earlier that day in order to work up an appetite for pizza get a great view of the city. The restaurant was light and, unlike many pizzeria, decorated in a modern style. We were greeted warmly by the friendly owners and shown to our table in a room with sides which would peel back in the warmer months. The restaurant was packed with locals. How nice, we decided, to be somewhere without any tourists whatsoever, not that Bologna was exactly mobbed with tourists during our stay, thankfully.

The menu arrived and I was overjoyed to see the long list of gluten free pizzas. Yep, TWO pages of gluten free pizza menu.

I went for Pizza Rosso Blu (tomato, mozzarella, Parma ham, rocket and shaved Parmesan). My pizza arrived and I really struggled to see much difference between mine and the regular pizza. You can just see in the bottom left of the photo there’s a small piece of the pizza crust missing. I tore this off for Mr D to try and make sure it really was my gluten free pizza. Reassured, I tucked in to a pizza with a wonderfully crisp and light base. The pizza toppings were deliciously simple and flavoursome. I wondered how something which tastes this good could really be gluten free.

With a gluten free Daura beer, of course.

For dessert, I’d wanted the lemon sorbet which I’d seen many of the other diners eating. However when our friendly waiter, Antonio, brought out a tray of no less than 5 gluten free and almond free desserts made in house to show me what they could offer, I felt I had to try the pannacotta which came with a choice of chocolate or fruits of the forest sauce.

Hands down, best ever pannacotta (sorry, Mum!).

For those of you dreaming about the best gluten free pizza in Italy, you’ll be pleased to know Bologna and Milan are connected by a high speed rail line taking just over an hour to speed between the two cities.


Pizzeria Ristorante Pepperoni

Address: via Santo Stefano 172/B, 40125 Bologna, Italy

Cost: EUR 57 for 2 pizzas, a mixed salad, 2 desserts, numerous GF and non-GF beers and water

Rating: 9.5/10 – Simply fantastico


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)