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Gluten-Free and Lactose-Free Places in Milan

Gluten-Free and Lactose-Free Places in Milan

Following on from our last article about finding vegetarian and vegan options in Milan, this month we look at mainly gluten-free options in the city, as well as some lactose-free choices. This can be a particularly tricky problem in Italy, where grain-based and milk-based products are often combined: e.g., pizza – which is basically bread with a mozzarella topping – and, of course, gelato (ice-cream) served in a cone (although there’s always the option to have gelato in a “coppetta” (a tub, literally “a little cup”). Bars can be a minefield too, since the classic Italian breakfast in a bar is a milky cappuccino with a croissant (known as “brioche” in Milan and a “cornetto” further south). At lunchtime, most people tuck into a pasta dish or a panino (a roll), although Italians don’t butter their bread, of course. As with the veggie and vegan options, while it can still be challenging to find gluten-free and lactose-free fare in small, traditional places, there is an ever-growing number of eateries and stores that specialise in meeting the dietary requirements of celiacs and those who are lactose intolerant. In fact, there’s quite a lot of overlap between places offering gluten-free and lactose-free dishes as well as veggie and vegan options. (By the way, in this article I’ve used the American English spelling of celiac. In British English, it’s “coeliac”. Incidentally, the word ultimately derives from the Greek koilia, meaning “belly”.)

Gluten Free Restaurants

Here are some of the best places where you can dine and forego wheat and occasionally dairy.

Linfa Eat Different

Situated in Via Bergognone in Zona Tortona, near Porta Genova and the Navigli, the owner Edoardo Valsecchi has pioneered gluten-free dining in Italy. Linfa’s Master Sushi Chef, Franklin Nastasi creates plant-based sushi using organically-farmed, local and seasonal ingredients. Alternatives to salmon, tuna, and pulled pork are made using pea proteins. Linfa’s Uramaki comprises eight rice rolls with nori seaweed inside and, as with all its dishes, can be enjoyed without additional seasonings, although soy sauce is available upon request. Antonio Alderuccio, Linfa’s Executive Chef, specialises in plant-based and gluten-free cuisine. He also won the title of Best Pasta Maker in the UK. The restaurant’s Tartare is made with cooked red turnip in a sea salt crust, burnt spring onion vinaigrette, old-fashioned mustard, chives, capers, horseradish and vegan egg yolk. Linfa Eat Different also has an outdoor area with retractable glass walls and decorative greenery. 

So’Riso

Located in Via Milanofiori, Assago, So’Riso is a catering concept created by the family that owns the Scotti rice brand (promoted in Italy by TV personality Gerry Scotti, although he is not related). This bistrot is ideal for those who have a passion for rice and a problem with gluten intolerance. The dishes are creative and well-balanced, available for lunch and dinner, and include rice waffles created by celebrated Italian chef Davide Oldani. For breakfast you can enjoy their yoghurt made with rice milk. 

Photo from So’Riso

Bistrò

A dedicated gluten-free restaurant in C.so. Magenta, Bistrò, offering a wide range of dishes, from pasta, e.g. handmade ravioli with pumpkin-sage sauce, to gluten-free ossobuco and sandwiches which include several lactose-free and vegan options. They also have a bakery called Via Dalla Spiga, which supplies fresh gluten-free baked goods such as chocolate fagottino.

Photo from Bistrò

Gluten and Lactose Free Pizzerie

I’ll be diplomatic and use the correct Italian plural of pizzeria for this section. (“Pizzerias,” like “cappuccinos,” are anglicisms that set Italian teeth on edge.) Here is a selection of celiac-friendly places where you can enjoy a margherita or something more adventurous (but of course, don’t even think about asking for a Hawaiian pizza in Italy: it’s basically a criminal offence). 

Sorbillo Lievito Madre in Isola 

Sorbillo‘s gluten-free “wagon wheel” pizza (“a ruota di carro”) is made in the traditional Neapolitan way at this pizzeria located in Via Borsieri in the Isola area of Milan (The “Lievto Madre” in its title refers to the yeast or sourdough starter they use. Some types of yeast itself, apparently, don’t affect celiacs). As well as the classic Margherita and Marinara, celiacs can enjoy pizzas made with a variety of toppings: from pizza made with Piennolo del Vesuvio tomatoes to the Salsiccia e Friarielli (sausage and broccoli) pizza, as well as tempting gluten-free calzoni with a variety of toppings such as Classico with salami or Scarole (endive).

Photo from Sorbillo

Le Specialità

Established in Milan 40 years ago, Le Specialità, a pizza restaurant in Via Calvi, near Piazza Cinque Giornate, offers both gluten and lactose-free options. It features a warm and welcoming environment with a variety of pizzas prepared in a wood-fired oven, using only Bufala Campana AOC mozzarella, and focaccie. Their Pizza La Taggiasca is made with tomato puree, oregano and raw Taggiasca olives, buffalo mozzarella and basil, while the Pizza Catalana comprises a gluten-free base with buffalo mozzarella, Sicilian scampi, cherry tomatoes and Tropea red onions. They also offer a range of other dishes suitable for celiacs.

Photo from Le Specialità

Be Bop

Based in Viale Col di Lana near XXIV Maggio Piazza, Be Bop is a pizzeria and restaurant that has been offering gluten-free options for over 20 years. They also provide lactose-free pizzas and other dishes like the gluten-free version of the Milanese “elephant ear cutlet”. Be sure to make a reservation, especially for dinner, as it fills up fast.

Photo from Be Bop

Gluten Free Bakeries and Pasticcerie

As in all Mediterranean countries, baked goods are divided into bread and cakes – and they’re usually made in different shops, or the shop is divided into two sections. There are now a number of places that cater for celiacs and, possibly, those affected by lactose intolerance. Here’s a selection of some you can try.

GluFree Bakery

Located in Via Gian Galeazzo in the Navigli area, GluFree Bakery offers a variety of gluten-free Sicilian specialties such as cassata and cannoli, as well as bread, muffins and cookies. It’s perfect for breakfast or an afternoon treat. Apparently, the owner, from Catania in Sicily, wanted to create something special for his girlfriend, who suffered from celiac disease. The original, smaller, bakery was situated in Crocetta; the newer Navigli-based GluFree is bigger and offers six different flavours of arancine (rice balls). (Note that “arancine” is actually the spelling from Palermo; in Catania these iconic Sicilian treats are spelt “arancini”.)

Photo from GluFree Bakery

Pàn Per Me

This small and minimalist spot in Viale Monte Nero, in the Porta Romana area, was created by Patrizia de Haag and Giuseppe Agostoni, along with Master Pastry Chef Francesco Favorito. The bakery offers a mix of different flours (teff, brown rice, millet, buckwheat, chickpeas and lentils) to create gluten-free baked goods with great taste and nutritional balance. They also offer a gluten-free brunch on Sundays and at Christmas they offer gluten-free panettone and pandoro. Pàn Per Me are also developing lactose-free dishes and the perfect breadstick. They are experimenting with some vegan solutions, such as their sugar-free plum cake with soya milk.

Photo from Pàn Per Me

Gluten and Lactose Free Gelaterie

Italian homemade gelato is in the same relationship to Anglo-Saxon “ice-cream” as a traditional Sunday lunch is to a Big Mac: gelato is a tradition, an art, an institution, and a rite in Italy. However, finding gelato made without milk is a bit like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack. In recent years, a class of specialist providers has sprung up, which we look at here. Finding gluten-free cones can also be a real challenge.

Out of the Box

Located in Porta Venezia, this artisanal gelato shop offers a large assortment of vegan, gluten-free, and lactose-free flavors. Founded by marketing expert Flavio Sears, it blends modernity with traditional gelato crafting. Initially tasked with promoting Sorbetteria Castiglione in Milan, Flavio saw the potential for a new venture, leading to the creation of Out of the Box. The gelato is crafted with fresh, local ingredients and without pre-made bases, maintaining authenticity. The design features a minimalistic, fresh aesthetic. Besides gelato, the bar offers specialty coffee, curated with the same attention to detail, making Out of the Box a unique, comprehensive culinary experience.

Photo from Out of the Box

Grom

This well-known gelato chain (now owned by Unilever) with stores throughout Milan, Italy and internationally offers a variety of gluten-free and lactose-free options, including gluten-free cones. Its ice-cream is rated as gluten-free by the Italian Celiac Association (AIC). AIC has also trained Grom’s staff in the rules of proper gelato scooping to prevent contamination from gluten. All Grom stores joined this project and are constantly followed and monitored by the technical staff of the AIC. All Grom gelato products are suitable for Coeliac customers except those marked with the wheat symbol. Grom is also very clear about allergens, and indicates which of their poducts, including gelato, sorbet and granita, contain gluten, milk, eggs, nuts and soy. This information is also displayed in-store at its sites.

Photo from Grom

Gluten and Lactose Free Stores and Ingredients

Finally, we’ll take a quick look at some places where you can buy specialist gluten-free and lactose-free products, as well as those covering a range of specific health-related requirements. In this article, I mentioned NaturaSì, Italy’s main health food chain, and they are definitely one place to head for when you’re looking for celiac-friendly products and items for people with lactose intolerance. The Italian Celiac Society (Associazione Italiana Celiachia) has a useful certification scheme for places that meet its stringent criteria. Look for the crossed grain symbol on menus and packets.

Celiachia 

A well-stocked shop with gluten-free products located in Via Giulio e Corrado Venini in the NoLo area. Since 2009, Celiachia have been offering the best assortment of products for celiacs and gluten-intolerant people. They also organise gluten-free tastings and cooking courses.

Milano Senza Glutine

“Milano Gluten-Free” is a chain of stores in Lombardy offering a wide selection of gluten-free products. Their two main stores are in Via Beato Angelico in Città Studi and Viale Gramsci in Sesto San Giovanni. They stock both fresh and frozen products.

Please note that the information in this article has not been fully verified and is subject to change. If you are affected by either celiac disease or lactose intolerance, please check with the staff of the individual restaurant or store to ensure the exact ingredients used in their dishes and products. Look out for the gluten-free symbol and certification by the Italian Celiac Society (Associazione Italiana Celiachia, AIC). AILI, the Associazione Italiana Latto-Intolleranti APS, is the equivalent organisation for people who are lactose-intolerant.

Article by Robert Dennis for Easy Milano

Robert Dennis is a writer and Business English teacher based in Milan. He has been teaching for other 30 years both in the UK and in Italy. A long-time collaborator with John Peter Sloan, Robert published Business English (Gribaudo) in 2020. The book was launched with “Il Sole 24 Ore” and sold in newsstands throughout Italy. Robert has a website for people who want to learn Business English: PayAsYouLearn.com. The site features keywords and phrases, audio and exercises to help professionals improve their language skills. A graduate in English from Oxford University, Robert is a regular contributor to Easy Milano who often writes about plays staged in English in Milan and other cultural events in the city. He is also a translator and “buongustaio” who loves Italian food! robertdennis.it

Featured image by Jay Wennington


Easy Milano

Easy Milano is the online publication for the international community of Milan. We offer practical tips, key information and essential insights about living and working in Italy. Easy Milano has been assisting English speaking expats in Milan since 1999.
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