Finding Gluten Free Pizza in Sicily

Our Italian adventure continued by overnight train from Rome to Sicily. Mr D was very excited. We were going the whole way by train because the carriages were going to be loaded onto the ferry from mainland Italy to the island of Sicily. As a veteran of both the Russian Trans-Siberian “Express” and a return from honeymoon on the Orient Express, I also love the relaxation of an overnight train travel.

Our 1st class 2 berth compartment also cost us just over €100 it was good value.

After a strong coffee in Milazzo we boarded the hydrofoil bound for the Aoelian Islands, the volcanic outcrop of islands north of Sicily.

Malfa ferry

Two of the islands, Stromboli and Vulcano are still active. We decided to stay on the island of Salina and stayed at the wonderful Hotel Signum. The hotel had views from the terrace towards Stromboli and we were hoping to see some of her nightly eruptions.

The population of the island of Salina is approximately 4,000. In the pretty town of Malfa, where we stayed, it’s under a 1,000 people. And that’s what makes this gluten free tale so surprising.

A couple of evenings we ate in the hotel’s restaurant and the food was delicious but one night we just wanted something a bit more simple. We wandered up to the Pizzeria U Cucunciu located at 81, via Roma, Malfa. Mr D was in the mood for pizza and I wasn’t fussed as long as it was gluten free. Let’s face it, titchy island chances of getting a gluten free pizza were going to be zero. I was so sure of this, I didn’t even bother perusing the menu for pizza options while we enjoyed a bottle of the local red wine.

gluten free Malfa

The waitress returned and to take our food order and – ever the optimist – I thought I’d ask if they had pizza senza glutine. She gave me a thoughtful look and scurried off to the kitchen. A few moments later she emerged beaming from the kitchen. They couldn’t have, could they? The sure did! Malfa, population under 1,000 a tiny spec of a volcanic island had a gluten free pizza. I love Italy!

So my next problem was choosing a pizza since I’d not even bothered reading the pizza menu and had settled on the usual steak and salad combo.

My pizza arrived.

gluten free pizza sicily

The pizza base was a pre-packaged Dietary Specials type they’d probably bought in case a random Coeliac came in looking for a gluten free pizza. OK, so the quality of the base didn’t match those I’d eaten elsewhere but I didn’t mind at all. I enjoyed it!

For dessert the waitress kindly went through all their ice creams in their freezer to find a suitable one for me. I went for the lemon sorbet which seemed appropriate given the number of lemons hanging off trees all over the island.

gluten free dessert sicily

What I learnt was that even though the menu did not list any gluten free items, the restaurant did have them. In Italy, it’s always worth asking if they have pizza and pasta senza glutine.

A few photos of Salina


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  1. gluten free pizza
    June 23, 2011 / 3:01 pm

    There needs to be more gluten free recipes. Thanks for your efforts.

  2. Chris
    June 28, 2011 / 9:48 am

    Did you do the Trans-Siberian express on a GF diet? Where did you go? Feasible without eating wheat? I studied in Russia for a semester and would love to do the Moscow-Beijing trip once. I don’t mind eating the same thing all the time as long as I don’t have to starve to death

    • June 28, 2011 / 9:02 pm

      Hello, thanks for stopping by and commenting! I also studied (and later lived) in Russia. Whereabouts were you? I went on the Trans-Siberian as a student and at that time I was vegetarian. As I’m sure you know from your time in Russia, being veggie is not that easy!

      I think travelling gluten free on the Trans-Siberian would involve the same level of preparation. I took a lot of cup a soups with me which could be mixed up using the hot water from the samovar in the carriage. I ate in the train’s restuarant car, but this was somewhat limited to fried eggs for me! I’d suggest taking some gluten free bread with you so that can at least buy some cheese to make a sandwich. Maybe some crackers too. I’m sure you’ll be able to buy kolbasa from a babushka on the station platform in the places the train stops but you’d be taking a risk it’s gluten free.

      Going gluten free on the Trans-Siberian is definitely do-able, but you’d need some advance preparation and to take some supplies with you. Have you been to China before? I’ve been to Hong Kong a few times but not mainland China. I’d love to visit but have been a little nervous of eating safely there.

  3. August 12, 2015 / 4:31 am

    Here’s a recipe I found (and moidifed slightly). I’ve been GF for a year, and am still learning. Baking with GF flours is always an experiment, and it certainly helps to keep xanthan gum on hand (helps mimic gluten in some things, and reduce the unavoidable crumbliness of it all).3c Gluten Free Flour (I use Bette Hagman’s recipe for Gluten Free Mix)4 tsp Dried Yeast1/2 tsp sugar1 tsp salt1 1/2 tbsp canola or olive oil1 egg (this I added as the dough was very crumbly otherwise you might want to try 1-2tsp of xanthan gum if you have it)Combine yeast, sugar and 3 tablespoons of warm water in a small bowl and set aside until foaming. Sift the flour and slat into a large bowl. In a separate bowl mix together 1c warm water and the oil, then pour into a well in the dry ingredients along with yeast mixture. Mix together with wooden spoon until all combined. [This is where we realized it needed a little more fluid, so we added a splash of water and an egg].Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Cover and set aside in a warm place for about 1hr, until doubled in size.Punch down dough, knead lightly. Divide dough into 2 portions, and form onto 2 10 3/4inch pizza trays.Add toppings and all that yummy stuff. Bake at 425F for approximately 20min.The crust came out thin (which we really enjoyed) it wasn’t your traditional pizza dough consistency, though the xanthan gum may help add a little chewiness to it.Hope this works out for you!