Learning that you are gluten intolerant might seem like a death knell to pasta and delicious dinners out at Italian restaurants, that doesn't need to be the case. Here are some gluten free options for Italian dishes that you can ask for at your next night out.
Gluten free gnocchi
Gnocchi, or potato pasta, is a pasta substitute made by lightly cooking and grating potatoes and mixing the parboiled potatoes with flour and egg. The mix is then shaped into 'pillows', which can be boiled are served with pasta sauces. It's relatively simple to switch this to a gluten free recipe by substituting rice flour and baking rather than boiling the potatoes for a thick and cohesive mixture which can cook to a perfect texture. Restaurants that make gnocchi on site are often happy to make a gluten free batch if you give them a few hours notice so that they can start the process during pre-meal prep times.
Quinoa or gluten free pastas
For Italian restaurants that use premade, dry pasta rather than fresh pasta it can often be possible to order a quinoa pasta. Quinoa is an ancient grain that is naturally gluten free and there are several commercial products available that use quinoa rather than wheat flour. It's important to also check if the sauces and/or cheese is gluten free as wheat flour can sometimes to be used in recipes to thicken products or cheese (as cellulose is sometimes used in shredded prepackaged cheese to keep the cheese shreds separate).
Grilled or roasted meats
One of the easiest and tastiest ways to avoid gluten in an Italian restaurant is to go for some grilled or slow roasted meats and vegetables. They can be extremely tasty and tender and gain most of their texture and flavour from slow cooking and seasoning with oils and herbs.
Gluten free eating doesn't mean that you need to miss out on having a yummy desert. While many cakes and the traditional tiramisu may be off the table, fresh fruit platters and gelato are naturally gluten free. Gelato can be made from a range of bases including nut flavours, coffee, chocolate as well as traditional fruit flavours.
You can still be an enthusiastic eater of Italian food even if you are gluten intolerant. It can be useful to ask the restaurant specific questions on the ways that each dish has been prepared.