Osteria St. Ana, Roma

Me, Alex, and me Osteria St. Ana

There are many, many restaurants in Rome.  Every street has a variety of osterias, trattorias, bars (where you can have a coffee, cappucino, or a snack) and sometimes even a pizzaria.  However, Osteria St. Ana is not just a restaurant, but an experience that one does not forget.  So many restaurants have delicious food that you will swoon over, but it is the combination of ambience, staff. and food that leaves an lasting impression.

For months before our trip, I enjoyed researching places to eat.  I also emailed many restaurants inquiring as to their capabilities of preparing gluten free pasta.  I found this restaurant close to where we stayed in Rome, so that on the first day of arrival, it would be convenient to find and enjoy a good meal.  I emailed the owner asking for gluten free pasta, and he replied that he could provide it, so I went ahead with the reservation.  When we arrived, he led us in to seat us and commented that I was the reservation that had requested gluten free pasta.  I was very impressed that he remembered!

The food is amazing, prepared with love and many years of experience.  You can dine al fresco or downstairs in their romantic lamp lit and candlelit dining room.  The walls are covered with pictures of the owners (two brothers) and many celebrities and lesser known patrons.

For appetizers, we shFresh fish Osteria St. Anaared smoked mozzarella and prosciutto with melon. Yummy!  Wayne, my husband, had a fresh baked tuna steak with pomodoro and olives.  I ordered Spaghetti with Vongole (clam sauce), pictured here.  It was heavenly.  I was so happy to be eating gluten free pasta in Rome!  My son, Alex, had Pasta Amatriciana (tomato sauce prepared with pancetta).  I tasted the sauce, and it was scrumptious.  He followed with an entree of grilled Scampi (what Italians call langostinos).Gluten Free Spaghetti with Clam Sauce

I don’t know where we found the room, but Alex and I ordered three desserts:  creme caramel, fresh strawberries and cannoli.  I was unable to eat the cannoli, but my creme caramel and strawberries were sublime!

We were fussed over.  We were made to feel like family.  We were not rushed.  They did not care if we sat there all evening.  The waiters scurried around and we watched as they just could not be more accommodating to all!

This gem of a Rome restaurant, Osteria St. Ana, on a street just off Piazza Popolo, made us feel so very special.  Many generations of the same family have run this restaurant, and therefore, the food is unmistakeably cooked and served with much pride and love.

I shall never forget our evening at Osteria St. Ana.   It was and will continue to be a loving and lasting memory of my husband, my son, and I in beautiful Rome with delcious food, laughter, affection, and an ambiance of family tradition.

And thank you, Roberto, for remembering my gluten free pasta! Grazie mille!

Grilled Scampi

Zibibbo!

Gluten Free Spaghetti with Fresh Sardines

Just inside the city limits of the foothills of Florence, one finds this unique trattoria (informal Italian restaurant) run by chef-owner Benedetta Vitali.  The 14C bus will drop you off practically right in front of the restaurant which is right off the Piazza di Carregi. The latter piece of advice actually came from Benedetta herself after I emailed her telling her that most likely we would not be visiting her restaurant, as I was told that the taxi ride cost over 50 euro round trip.

From the outside, Zibbibo looks like the front of an every day bar, but step inside, and it becomes a very beautiful dining area overlooking the Tuscan landscape.  Benedetta, herself, will
lead you to your table, explain the menu and even serve you many of the dishes.
She runs a cooking school out of the same kitchen.  Each dish is made to order, so be
prepared for long pauses to reflect on the goodness of  the dish that you had just
eaten.

We told Benedetta that we were celebrating Alex’s college graduation, and at the
same time, Alex asked to be surprised, so Benedetta picked out each course that he
ate, and he loved them all.  Admittedly, they became better and better as the
evening progressed.  In Italy, you have an appetizer (antipasto), then a first course,
primi patti, and then a second course (secundo patti), a side dish such as a vegetable
(contorno), and if you have space in your stomach, dolce (dessert) and cafe or coffee.

Alex loved his octopus appetizer and black ink pappardelle with squid.  He has been emailing all of his friends about it.  Wayne and I shared a gluten free spaghetti dish of fresh sardines pictured here).   It was very delicious and I plan on trying my hand at this dish when I get home.  Benedetta was supposed to share the recipe, but the restaurant became busy as we left, and we both inadvertently forgot about the promise.  From what I could discern myself, this dish is a savory mixture of  sardines, olive oil, pine nuts, sultana raisins, and just a hint of fresh fennel.

Unfortunately, Benedetta said that she was out of gluten free bread, and admittedly, I was disappointed.  I have not encountered any gluten free Italian bread since arriving in Italy just one week ago.  Most servers are quite familiar with “gluten free” pasta (pasta senza glutino), but the bread is hard to come by.  We are now in Rome and I remain optimistic that I may finally get to taste gluten free bread in Italy.

I was thinking about emailing Benedetta for the sardine recipe, but better yet, I do believe that I will take the creative approach and try my hand at it with my own personal improvisations.  Recipe to follow on this blog.

Viva Zibbibo Firenze!  Thank you Benedetta.

Benedetta Vitali

Al Tranvai Restaurant-Florence, Italy

Gluten free Taglitelli with Mushrooms

Beans with shrimp appetizer-Al Tranvai Trattoria, FlorencePinch me. Here I am with my son and husband in beautiful Florence.  This evening, we dined at a tiny trattoria that went through the trouble of cooking me an amazing and very memorable gluten free meal.  This is not just any restaurant.  This is a tiny place with about 7 tables and all the locals come, feast, chat a lot, and laugh a lot. The walls resound with the fullness of life.  The chef pictured here with our wonderful server was so very proud to prepare for me Taglitelle (gluten free) with a rich mushroom sauce.  Spectacular and so very delicous.  Oh, I almost forgot to mention the appetizer of fagioli with shrimp, vibrant with flavor and fresh herbs.  It is a dish that I have never had before.  My son took his bread and scraped up everylast bit of sauce.  My husband also had the fagioli and then followed with penne pasta with sausage and wine sauce.

Al Tranvai Chef and AssistantThe chef himself came out to serve me my “gluten free” pasta dish.  He smiled and
winked at me, and we silently acknowledged the understanding that he was happy
to create this special dish for me and that I was so very grateful for the effort and
culinary love he put into it.

It was an evening never to be forgotten.  Delicious.  Happy.  Being in the moment.
Alex, my son, my husband, Wayne, and me together across the globe from home.

I highly recommend Al Tranvai.  In fact, we shall return Friday evening, just before
we go on to Rome, to celebrate the flavors of this gem hidden away in a residential

neighborhood of Florence.  And the best part-they love you gluten free and all!

My son, Alex, and me-Al Tranvai Trattoria, Florence

Outside sign