It's rare to find a restaurant that serves 100% gluten free food pretty much anywhere around the world, and even rarer to find one that isn't considered a "specialty" restaurant with limited options. When I heard about Alriso, I made it a priority to visit.
About the Restaurant
Alriso is an Italian restaurant in Prague with a full menu of 100% gluten free items. The name comes from the Italian for rice (riso), and they use rice-based products when it comes to their breads and pasta dishes. The menu is quite extensive, with several selections of appetizers, risottos, pastas, fish, and meat dishes, as well as desserts. In addition, there is also a dessert menu that includes traditional Tiramisu, which is rarely found gluten free.
In addition to the food, they have a decent wine menu, a selection of non-alcoholic drinks, and even a selection of a few gluten free beers. A loaf of freshly baked bread is delivered to each table shortly after being seated,served warm and with olive oil for dipping.
The restaurant is part of a small family of restaurants in Prague, each organized around a different theme or specialty. Alriso is the only one that is 100% gluten free.
Located just a short walk from the Old Town Square, the restaurant faces a small square that holds the Church of Bethlehem, an interesting monument in its own right. It's well-located for a meal if you are near the Charles Bridge, the Old Town Square, or most of the Old Town. Walking in, I thought it was very small because there are only a few tables on the top floor, but we were quickly taken downstairs where two large dining rooms are located.
Alriso is decorated in typical Italian restaurant style, with red-checked table cloths and photographs of Italy, but it's the stone walls that really give it the feel of being in a grotto in a small Italian village. We went for lunch, but I can imagine the ambiance would be much more romantic in the evenings with the candlelight bouncing off the walls. That being said, it is kid-friendly, and I noticed high chairs available. The waiter even offered half-sizes of the main dishes for our younger son.
The Food and Service
I'll start with the service, because it was friendly and welcoming. Our waiter was attentive, and he spoke English extremely well. The menu is available in Czech and English, so ordering was a breeze. Our children were welcomed, and we noticed another family with small children arriving as we were leaving.
As mentioned above, the menu is quite extensive, and there were several options in each category, including meal sized salads, soups, traditional antipasti, risottos, pastas, and meat and fish dishes. Several options were vegetarian, and there was an allergy menu available upon request if other allergies were a concern. Although not stated on the menu, they happily provide half-portions for children, which was the perfect amount of pasta for our three year old.
We weren't extremely hungry, so with the exception of our youngest we all ordered a risotto. My son chose the risotto with sausage and peppers, my husband chose the salmon risotto, and I chose the taleggio cheese with walnuts and parsley oil. The serving sizes were perfect for a main at lunch, and would have been filling as a dinner accompanied by a starter. Our youngest had the penne with ricotta and ate every bite.
Risotto can be tricky, and sometimes gets served as a sticky or lumpy mess. The risotto here was the perfect texture and melted in your mouth. I always know when a meal is good because my children are quiet, and they ate their entire meals uttering barely a word.
Since desserts are typically excluded from most menus for my gluten free son, we decided to give them a try at Alriso. The waiter stamped the dessert menu onto each individual place mat, which my kids thought was hilarious. There was a selection of cakes, a rice pudding, panacotta, ice cream, and a cheese platter. My sons went for the ice cream, which was three scoops of different flavours served in a large glass with a cookie. I chose the tiramisu, since I remember it from my childhood but have never attempted to make myself, and my husband chose the assorted cheese platter.
The ice cream was a hit with the boys, and my older son was thrilled that he could try everyone's dessert as well as his own. The tiramisu was exactly as it should be, full of coffee and lady fingers and mascarpone cheese. No one would guess it was gluten free. My husband's cheese platter came accompanied with bread and a mustard sauce, and he loved it. Our three year old loved it too, "helping" my husband finish his plate.
The entire bill came out to about the equivalent of just over 50 Euros, which is quite reasonable for lunch for four people. We did not order any alcohol and only had the main course plus dessert, but the price was still more than reasonable for the quality and quantity of food we ate. Plus, knowing that my son could eat whatever he wanted? Worth every Euro. Or Koruna, as it were.
I highly recommend this restaurant when visiting Prague. The ambiance is delightful, although obviously not traditional Czech. The location is easy to reach on foot from the Charles Bridge or from the Old town Square, and is just a few minutes from the metro and tram lines.
I was happy with the selection of menu items and the quality of the food we were served. The restaurant is large enough to hold several parties of people, but feels intimate because of the rustic setting.
Alriso Risotteria Italiana
- Betlémské nám. 11, Praha 1
- 11am-Midnight 7 days a week
- Website: http://www.al-riso.cz/en/