I know that not everyone who reads this blog is allergic or sensitive to gluten, but maybe you know someone who is? And know how difficult it can be to travel, eat at a restaurant or plan an event for people with Celiac Disease. Please feel free to share anything you find here that you think will be useful to someone you know, and perhaps make their travel plans a little easier!
A little while ago I shared my review of the gluten free breakfast at the 4* Enterprise Hotel in Milan, and I began by saying that I didn’t realize that a hotel stay was a luxury for people with Celiac Disease. As hard as it is to find a reliable place to stay it can be just as hard to find a reliable place to eat.
My own experience in trying to find gluten free restaurants in Lisbon and Copenhagen have made me realize that searching for gf restaurants while on vacation ISN’T EASY. First of all, you may need to search in another language, and second of all, if you get to the restaurant and no one speaks English, or they don’t have an English menu, you may not feel SAFE eating there.
I’ve lugged my whole family to a gluten free Pizzeria that was CLOSED, I’ve taken my son to a restaurant that told me I should have ordered at least an hour in advance, I’ve fed my son cold gluten free hot dogs out of a can when there were no other options…..gross
So let me make things easier or anyone planning a trip to Milan with Celiac Disease or a Gluten Sensitivity and continue my tried and TESTED review of TIGELLA’S, a gluten free “tigella” and “gnocco fritto” restaurant.
TIGELLA’S – 2 Gluten Free locations in the heart of Milan!
I’ve always wanted to blog about my absolute favorite snack food in this part of Italy, the tigella, however, after my son was diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity I no longer had any reason to talk about them. This DELICIOUS mini pita-esque, flatbread is my go to lunch when I am out and about in Modena. So imagine my sadness when I discovered that there is NO WHERE to have gluten free tigella’s or gnocco fritto in Modena’s centre.
I was equally pleased when I found out the Milan has not one but TWO gluten free tigella restaurants, both in the heart of the city, easily accessible by public transit.
What is a Tigella?
My little guy used to LOVE this snack food / Italian fast food, it is genuine, filling, warm and yummy. A PERFECT meal for a family because kids love them. These circle shaped flatbreads traditionally made with flour, water, baker’s yeast, milk, salt and oil/lard are traditionally 3 inches in diameter, but are sometimes made to be a little bigger and more filling. I would suggest eating at least 3-5 small ones to call it a meal!
The name “Tigella” actually comes from the special iron pan used to make them. They are pressed into this closed pan and then stove-top baked over an open flame. Just to make things confusing the name of these yummy flatbreads changes depending on where you are in Italy, and you may also see them referred to as “crescentine”.
What is “Gnocco Fritto”?
Hand in hand with tigellas you will often find “gnocco fritto” on the menu, pronounced with a very nasal N sound just like the pasta “gnocchi”. Together, these two savoury carbs are often served fresh and warm with different platters of deli meats, spreads and even nutella!
Gnocco fritto was my sons ALL TIME guilty pleasure. At only 2 years old he had already MEMORIZED all of the caffes in Modena that served the best Gnocco! This was the hardest thing to witness when we started his gluten free diet. I would have to take LONG detours and go around his favourite breakfast spots or he would cry and throw a major temper tantrum if we didn’t stop in for a snack….they are just that irresistable.
I’ve written about these flaky, buttery, crispy, crunchy – melty in your mouthy fried dough squares before here. You’ve probably never heard of gnocco fritto before…unless you’ve lived in the “Emilia” half of the Emilia Romagna Italian province. But here it is a staple, for breakfast, lunch or dinner!
You’ll also find this Italian snack refered to in different ways; in Parma they call it “Torta Fritto” (fried cake), “Pinzino” in Ferrara, “Crescentina Fritta” in Bologna and “Chisolino” in Piacenza!
So how does Tigella’s Gluten Free Measure Up?
My expectations were not that high. First of all, the restaurant is in Milan, which is not home to either the tigella or gnocco fritto. Second of all, we’re talking GLUTEN FREE….which is never quite the same as the real deal.
Let me tell you – THEY WERE GOOD. REALLY GOOD! If you are visiting Milan and are looking for a cheap, fast and delicious meal YOU MUST go to Tigella’s! My son ate 5 gnocco frittos and 2 tigella’s, which is a LOT for his little body. Their platters will easily satisfy a hungry person and their prices are modest for Milan!
They also serve the non-gluten free version of both and versions made with alternative types of flours, for the diet conscious!
They have prepared platters, which include traditional deli meats, vegetarian options and a more inventive seafood platter, which is what I ordered!
Don’t worry too much about trying to decipher the Italian menu because they also have a translated menu for tourists! Plus, to wash it all down you can order their gluten free beer “Daura”!
We had an excellent dinner at Tigella’s. I RECOMMEND BOOKING IN ADVANCE, because this place got busy!! The two locations make this restaurant a very convenient option, and if you plan on staying for a weekend in the centre of Milan and want to taste a very traditional Italian fast food, this is the place to go!
This review is part of a new series that I’m very excited to share, dedicated to gluten free travel in Italy. The first article in the series, Gluten Free in Milan, was dedicated to the 4* Enterprise Hotel and their abundant gluten free breakfast. Next I’ll be sharing some of my must see tourist spots in the city, especially if you are travelling with kids!
A special thanks to Tigella’s for their participation in this series and for making this review possible.
Gluten Free in Italy
On these social networks I will be sharing much more detailed information over the next few months like recipes, places to stay, where to eat, guides and other resources and blogs for GF travelers coming to Italy.
TIGELLA’s – Info & How to Get There!
Location #1 Viale Corsica, 38 – Angolo via Grasselli
Phone: 0239543224 E-mail: email@example.com
Arriving take the TRAM : Line 27 in direction “Viale Le Ungeria” from the centre of Milan and stop at “Viale Corsica / Via Lomellina – link to the exact stop!
To go back to the centre of Milan take the same line and get off at the stop “DUOMO” . which is Milan’s Central Piazza and the Duomo.
Total travel time from the Duomo to Tigella’s on Viale Corsica is less than 20 minutes by tram.
Location #2 Via Anfiteatro 6 – Corso Garibaldi – VERY NEAR THE SFORZESCO CASTLE!!
Phone: 0249541367 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Very easy to get there with 4 different lines of the public transit system, or by walking for about 20 minutes! Using Google Maps you can easily find your route, depending on your starting point!