Where can you get the best gluten free pizza in London? The best authentic Italian gluten free pizza? Cotto Italian restaurant. Bold claims need evidence I know. I will do my best to convince you to at least go and find out for yourself. Then you can agree and together we can convince more people. A recipe for success to compliment the recipe for great pizza!
So I begin with an anecdote. Some years ago I was happy to welcome an Italian colleague, Alex, to London. He came over on a temporary assignment. I took Alex for lunch as part of welcoming him to London, capital city of the known universe. Our offices are in the Southbank area and with just a pinch of trepidation I told Alex I could take him to a truly amazing and authentic Italian pizzeria. I staked my foodie credibility on convincing an Italian that I knew what a good Italian pizza and restaurant should be like.
It worked. It worked very well. Alex was surprised, impressed, delighted. On the strength of one visit to Cotto Italian he declared that he would happily take my recommendation to eat anywhere else. I have had further successes but Cotto Italian pizza was the essential opening course.
Cotto Italian Comfort, Style & Service
If you have any reason to be visiting London’s Southbank you are already within five minutes walk of Cotto. Otherwise the restaurant is directly opposite the Lambeth Northern Line station, roughly halfway between Southbank and the Imperial War Museum. The corner location is not a picturesque one but at least getting there from the proximate attractions is quick. It is worth the short walk. It would also be worth a much longer walk. A very long walk that might be a great way to work up the appetite for pizza!
Within the restaurant space is limited but not as cramped or crowded as a some London venues and there is one romantic little alcove at the back that affords some privacy. It is entirely possible to visit without making a reservation but I recommend making one if you plan to visit at a popular mealtime.
Now onto one of the key features of Cotto. The Italian owner, Lino, is a coeliac. Googling “larger than life” should return a picture of Lino. Lino runs the restaurant assisted by his sons Fiddlele, chef Luca and his daughter Angelina. Lino is a passionate and enigmatic host. It feels like his family restaurant has been scooped up some corner of Italy and moved to London. Waiting staff are often young immigrants from Italy and probably friends of the family.
Cotto Italian Free From Credentials
The restaurant window actually presents in big letters “Wheat or Gluten Intolerant? We have dishes for you!”. The online menu lists every single dish available gluten free. That includes all the pizzas, meat and fish dishes, all the pastas, all the antipasti. All but three dishes are available. Those three are one filled pasta and two Calzones. No loss. Remember a Calzone is just a pizza that is more difficult to eat.
Regular gluten containing pizzas and pastas are prepared and served. Cotto has a completely separate kitchen for preparation of the gluten-free dishes and keep gluten free products in separate containers to manage cross-contamination risk.
The Cotto website homepage also headlines “Cotto Italian Restaurant for vegetarian, celiac (gluten-free) and any allergy!“. Vegetarian and vegan cheese is normally available. The vegan cheese is imported from Italy, of course, and is very similar to the wonderful Mozza Risella. This is the one vegan cheese I would actually recommend even to a non-vegan. It does not need any concessions to be enjoyed.
Cotto Italian Pizza
Now we come to the claim that Cotto delivers the best gluten free pizza in London. I am talking about an authentic pizza Napoletana, or Neapolitan Pizza. Simple and fresh ingredients. Thin soft bases, crispy on the outside, with bubbles on the crusts. Flavour rich tomato sauce and Mozzarella di Bufala Campana. Artfully topped with a basil leaf. That is the Margherita and honestly I have never had a better pizza.
Of course there are others and in addition to the quality there is the quantity, which has a quality of its own! My other personal favourites are the Napoletana with flavour sensation anchovies & capers and the Primavera loaded with mixed vegetables.
I should mention that there are menu options that aren’t pizzas. Rather a lot of them. I have tried the Gnocchi. Nice. I have sampled the Insalatas. Very pleasant. One day I might even try one of the pasta dishes. That day will be the day that there is no pizza available. When the pizza is this good I am helpless to do otherwise. The only real choice is which pizza? You may find yourself overwhelmed by the choice. Relax, there are no bad choices. Choose anything and promise yourself a return visit. Better yet, do as I have done. Dine with a friend and split and share your pizzas. Perfect pizza small plate style!
Cotto Italian Dessert
The only real problem with the pizzas being so very good is that a full pizza tends to be rather satiating. Why is that a problem? Well Cotto also offer what might be the best gluten free Tiramisu in London too! On multiple visits I have arrived full of intent to order Tiramisu only to be so wonderfully satiated by my pizza that my best laid plans came to nought.
I continue to protest and be puzzled by dessert menus being separate from main menus and completely absent from websites. Restaurants, tell us what we need to reserve space for! Tempt us! Torture us! Until Cotto hops on board with this winning concept I share a picture of that dessert menu. The Cheesecake is wonderful. The Tiramisu even better.
Cotto Italian Recommendation
I was diagnosed Coeliac and began my lifelong gluten-free diet just as Pizza Express became the first big Pizza chain to offer gluten-free pizzas. Now we are almost spoiled for choice. Pizza Express, Rosso Pomodoro, Pappa Ciccia, Ask Italian, Zizzi and more and more. I like them all and sometimes I can love them but I adore Cotto. Only after you have devoured a Cotto pizza can you discuss the rest.
So come here for the best gluten free pizza in London. Yes there are other things on the menu too. Antipasti and salads are nice, the Gnocchi is good. The fish dishes have appeal. Tiramisu and Cheesecake are gorgeous. But above all, need I reinforce this point? Give yourself the experience of a Cotto pizza. Take a friend and experience two at a time :-)
Do you think you know of better gluten free pizza? Impossible! Still, tell me. I am willing to try. If something you recommend is even nearly as good it will be great. I will review and credit you with pleasure!
Google, Take us to Cotto Italian!
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