Cortona is a beautiful hill town in Tuscany, in the Valdichiana, or Chiana Valley. It’s just over an hour on the train from Florence and about the same time if you plan on driving.
It’s one of the oldest towns in Italy, with a very colourful history. Frances Mayers’ book, Under the Tuscan Sun, is a really enjoyable way to read about the area, local culture and food.
During our stay, a local pizzeria in Ossiai called Hostaria La Tufa was recommended to us. Ossiai is about a 10 minute drive from Cortona and a restaurant recommendation from a local is always worth taking up, so we decided to pay them a visit one evening for dinner.
The person giving the restaurant recommendation wasn’t aware that I avoid wheat, so I really didn’t expect the restaurant to have any particular gluten free options – but if the food was tasty, I was more than happy with a salad or some meat and vegetables.
How wrong I was…
As we approached the restaurant I noticed a large ‘senza glutine’ sign on the front gate (the picture was actually taken at the end of the evening, when I was ridiculously full – I promise I did look more overjoyed when we first arrived!). With anticipation we entered and took our seats on the lovely roof terrace, underneath the stars.
We were bowled over by the huge choice of dishes, most of which they also offered as gluten free. The menu, with accompanying pictures, is shown on Hostaria La Tufa’s website and all gluten free pictures are accompanied by the Coeliac Association symbol.
The pasta and pizza both looked fantastic and Rob and I were both so seduced by the menu that we ordered pasta to start with and pizza as a main course! As you may know pasta is often served as a starter in Italy, but I think Italians usually follow a small portion of pasta with meat or something containing less carbohydrates than a big ol’ pizza.
I ordered Spaghetti alla Tufa, the sauce was made with pancetta, tomato, a small amount of cream and pepperoncino (a sweet, lightly spiced yellow pepper) and was DELICIOUS!
I think the sauce may have contained a small amount of onion and I kicked myself for not asking for it without. Be brave, unlike me, and ask – the worst they can say is no. Anyway, I gobbled it all up, without concerning myself about leaving any room for the impending pizza…
I ordered pizza Napoletana senza glutine, topped with tomato, mozzarella, anchovies and capers. If you are avoiding lactose, maybe ask for no mozzarella and perhaps just a sprinkle of parmesan at the end. It was fabulous and somehow I managed a very healthy number of slices…We enjoyed the pizza so much that I persuaded Rob to get a takeaway the next evening to drink with a bottle of home-made prosecco we had kindly been given. The takeaway pizza was even more delicious than the first and I can hands down say that it’s the best gluten free pizza I’ve ever eaten! Anywhere!! (There was a bit of cheese on the base, but would have been equally as nice without).
As you can see, the chefs kindly put the senza glutine pizza in a special box – otherwise we honestly wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference between the two.
If you ever find yourself in Tuscany or near to Cortona you must go and try the pizza at Hostaria La Tufa! Cortona in itself if a wonderful place to visit for the day or longer and with pizza like this, I know I’ll certainly be back.
The website is in Italian, but if you click the British flag in the right hand corner you’ll get the English translation.