North Central resident Rita Romano, a native of Italy, has partnered with Cave Creek resident Clarissa Burt to create “The Gluten Free Gastronomy Cookbook” in hard copy and digital versions.

Cave Creek resident Clarissa Burt, left, and North Central Rita Romano have teamed up to author “The Gluten Free Gastronomy Cookbook” in hard copy and digital versions (submitted photo).

The book includes 70 cucina Italiana recipes, each with a picture and without the dangers of gluten. Clarissa, a beauty/lifestyle and wellness expert who lived in Italy for 30 years, is no stranger to issues related to gluten intolerance. After countless trips in an ambulance to the emergency room, no doctor could ever diagnose the reason for her anaphylactic shocks. An eventual diagnosis led to having to give up much of the Italian food she loved.

She approached Rita, who had already authored several Italian cookbooks, for advice, and they eventually teamed up for this latest cookbook geared toward those with a gluten intolerance.

“You can now enjoy pasta, pizza and pane without the dangerous side effects of gluten,” Clarissa explains.

Born in Bari, Italy on the east side of the “boot,” Rita is the youngest of 12 children born into a family with a deep appreciation for the culinary arts. The budding young food fan came to the United States at the age of 11, immigrating to Philadelphia with her parents and five of her siblings.

Several of Rita’s siblings eventually relocated to Phoenix, and her strong sense of family ties drew her here in the early ’80s. In 1990, Rita opened and operated three Italian restaurants in the Phoenix and Scottsdale area specializing in pasta. Encouraged by her customers to share her recipes, as well as her knowledge and skill of Italian food, Rita began writing cookbooks. Within two years, Rita had published her first cookbook and started her Italian cooking school ( She conducts cooking classes in a little cottage adjacent to her home near 24th Street and Indian School Road.

The cookbook written in partnership with Clarissa, is “a great example of how the most beloved cuisine in the world can be tasty, healthy and authentic even without the use of one of its staples: the wheat,” says Ale Gambini, food writer and cooking instructor.

The book includes a variety of dishes, such as Antipasti (appetizers), pasta, risotto, Secondi (main dishes), side dishes, salads and desserts. Many of the pasta dishes simply use store-bought, gluten-free pasta and pizza dough, so no worries about trying to make that yourself.

To order a hard copy of the book ($34.95), visit The book also is available digitally on Kindle and iTunes ($9.99).



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