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Gluten Free at Italian Chains: the Ultimate Ranking

Gluten Free at Italian Chains: the Ultimate Ranking

Don’t know your Prezzo from your Bella Italia? Can’t choose between your Pizza Express and your Zizzi? Got vouchers for all of them on voucher cloud? I’ve got your back.

As much as going to chain restaurants can feel inauthentic and a little ‘basic’, Italian chains are often the best places for bargain meals as they always have deals. Here’s my ranking of the best (and worst).

7. Strada

The pasta at strada is really tasty and the restaurants have a nice atmosphere. But for me, an Italian where you can’t get pizza just can’t get much higher on the list!

Pros:

  • Tasty pasta
  • Gluten free polenta cake

Cons:

  • No pizza

I’d recommend: the Carbonara

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6. Frankie and Benny’s

Frankie and Benny’s have pizza, pasta, burgers with gf buns, salads and meat dishes. It’s an easy meal out but the main problem is it’s vastly inconsistent. The pizzas are often lacking toppings, and the base is basically a Warburtons gluten free wrap! There isn’t masses of choice and the dessert options are ice cream or fruit.

Pros:

  • Variety
  • Coeliac UK accreditation

Cons:

  • Inconsistent
  • Limited desserts
  • Pizzas are often bad

I’d recommend: the American Hot pizza, and sending it back for more toppings if it’s bare.

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5. Pizza Express

Pizza Express is a good on-the-go option as it always has great offers (like £5 mains any day of the week with O2 priority). On the downside, the quality of the food can be quite inconsistent, and whilst it’s tasty, Pizza Express aren’t the most generous with the toppings. On the plus side, there’s loads of pizzas available to choose from, gluten free dough balls and a gluten free brownie for dessert. The new pastas also come gluten free without even having to ask, and are delicious!

Pros:

  • Lots of pizza choices
  • The new pastas
  • Gluten free dough balls
  • Great offers
  • Coeliac UK accreditation

Cons:

  • Inconsistency
  • Not for a special occasion

I’d recommend: the new Broad Bean Rigatoni and the chocolate brownie for dessert

 

4. Prezzo

Prezzo’s gluten free offerings are varied and really tasty. They have pizza, pasta, garlic bread, meat and fish, and risotto dishes available. The restaurants are usually stylish but a bit clinical, and the food is consistent. Prezzo are particularly generous with their pizza toppings and the bases are a great size. A downside is the limited dessert options, which consist of panna cotta and ice cream.

Pros:

  • Variety
  • Coeliac UK accreditation
  • Lots of starter options
  • Good size pizza, lots of toppings

Cons:

  • Limited dessert options
  • Not very cosy

I’d recommend: The al forno pastas – very rare to find gluten free baked pasta!

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3. Ask

Coming in at third is Ask. The pizzas are a great size and full of flavour, and the dessert choices (including a melting eton mess tower!?) would satisfy the sweetest of toothed. The reason it misses out on a higher spot is that there’s only two starter options (but that’s much better than none) and the ambience just isn’t the same as Bella Italia.

Pros:

  • Quality
  • Variety
  • Dessert options

Cons:

  • Limited starters

I’d recommend: The salsiccia pizza (I’ve gone veggie and had it without the meat…still good!) and the melting Eton mess tower for dessert

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2. Bella Italia

Bella Italia is my favourite Italian chain and comes in second. The vast majority of the menu can be made gluten free including pizza, pasta, sharer garlic breads and meat dishes. They will also often adapt other dishes on request. The main thing I love is the décor, which is cosy and as authentically Italian as a chain restaurant gets. The portions are generous, and the food is delicious; the only noticeable downside is that there are little to no gluten free dessert options.

Pros:

  • Variety
  • Quality
  • Décor
  • Sharer garlic breads (to die for)

Cons:

  • Very limited dessert options.

I’d recommend: everything, but with a side of caramelised onion and mozzarella garlic bread. TO. DIE. FOR.

 

1. Zizzi

It was hard to pick a winner, but the amount of choice on Zizzi’s menu gave it the edge. There’s tons of starters, pizzas, pastas and meat dishes. Unlike multiple others on this list, Zizzi has not one but THREE gluten free dessert options (including a chocolate melt which is heavenly). They also cater for dairy free, vegetarian and vegan diets incredibly well.

Pros:

  • Quality
  • Variety
  • Lots of dessert options
  • More starter choice than any other
  • Caters for vegetarian/vegan/dairy free too

Cons:

  • Menu states not guaranteed to be cross-contamination free, but there are strict controls in place and I’ve never had a reaction
  • Can be inconsistent

I’d recommend: ‘Little soul’ breads to start, trying out a vegan pizza, and chocolate melt for dessert

 

I hope this helps you choose from the many Italian chains in the UK. There really isn't much in it between my top 4 so any would be a good choice!

Enjoy, Georgia x

 

 

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