Italian food is famous for its staples: pasta, pizza and fresh bread. Its no wonder a gluten-free dinner has a limited selection when it comes to dining out Italian. Restaurateurs with Italian kitchens are constantly asked- do you have a gluten free menu? While it’s important to be able to serve all guests dietary restrictions, it’s helpful to know the difference between Gluten-Free and Gluten-Friendly.
What exactly is gluten? Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and other various grains.
Gluten-Free vs. Gluten Friendly: There are different levels of gluten-free diners ranging from a disease to a preference.
Most Severe: celiac disease, which is caused by an inability to adequately digest a product containing gluten. The small intestines are affected and intense stomach cramping, nausea and other side effects occur.
Second Tier: gluten intolerance. This is when a diner ingests gluten and it is not digested properly. It’s less severe but causes uncomfortable side effects.
Lease Severe: those who avoid gluten based on a diet/ preference. Gluten doesn’t necessarily make these diners sick, they choose to avoid the grains and opt for other options out of preference.
TIPS for the preference diner who is avoiding gluten: Italian food is full of flavor and there are plenty of options when dining Italian and avoiding gluten! Try some of these delicious alternatives:
- Gluten-Free pizza & pasta
- Fresh Veggies as a side
- Gluten-Free Meatballs
The Italian Fast Casual Industry is focused on delivering customizable, delicious, authentic Italian recipes at affordable prices. With smaller kitchen spaces than large full-scale restaurants, being a gluten-free environment is not an easy feat. Gluten-Free and Gluten-Friendly diners have come to expect that an environment that is cooking fresh, homemade pasta and pizza dishes all day is not 100% gluten free but there are plenty of options to have a healthy delicious meal!