Italy has a rich and diverse street food scene which varies from region to region. Inherently attached to the culture and history of an area, street food is a wonderfully unique way of connecting with the people, the food and traditional cooking techniques.
Once considered peasant food, Italian street food has since obtained a sort of 'street cred' kudos as a popular and sociable way of enjoying freshly cooked food on the go. Numerous street food fairs now operate throughout Italy offering regional delicacies from all over the country,
With such a wide offering, that leaves us with one tricky decision, what to eat first?
We have put together top 10 of our favourite Italian street foods and recipes, which are commonly found both in Italy and around the word to help you in your quest for the best 'cibo di strada'.
These golden deep fried rice balls of rice originate from Sicily in Southern Italy, one of the richest desinations for tasty street food. There are a multitude of different versions, some of which are very elaborate using peas, minced beef and chicken scamorza, provola, mozzarella or pecorino. The simplest arancini are fried risotto balls with a melting mozzarella centre. Buonissimi. Click here for an authentic arancini recipe.
These succulent slimline kebabs are an iconic street food hailing from Abruzzo. Made from lamb cut into small cubes, alternated with fat for increased flavour, in some cases, the size of about 1 cm they are traditionally strung onto handmade wooden skewers. Once the preferred food of shepherds herding their flocks from higher pasture to the lower sea these days arrosticini has found a faithful following nationwide.
Farinata (see main image)
This chickpea pancake comes from Genova in Liguria in the North of Italy typically cooked in a wood-burning oven, it is made from chickpea flour, water, extra virgin olive oil, and salt, nutritious and filling. Farinata is often served as an appetizer and traditionally made in a big round copper pan called a testo, and then cut into large triangular slices.
This very thin bread is stuffed with a fresh cheese filling and cooked in the oven. It has recently achieved European protected status in recognition of it's unique qualities. Click here for a focaccia di Recco recipe.
These irresistible stuffed and deep fried olives hail from Marche in the East of Italy. Usually served as an antipasto with a ground meat stuffing, cured meats and vegetables.
Delicious, rich and melt in your mouth, these Sicilian fritters are made with chickpea flour, water, salt, parsley and pepper deep fried. In Sicily they usually eat this delicacy between soft bread and covered in sesame seeds. They can also often be found as an appetizer along with the infamous Italian aperitivo.
Panino ca Meusa
A sandwich made of fried beef spleen served with a slice of fresh Sicilian lemon and perhaps some grated local caciocavallo cheese, this is not street food for the faint hearted.
Panzerotti originated in central and southern Italy, They are small versions of the calzone or closed pizza, but produced with a softer dough. The most common fillings found are tomato and mozzarella, but spinach, mushrooms, baby corn, and ham are often used.
Romagna's famous flatbread now common across italy and can be found in most bars at lunchtime. The typical version, includes two halves of a piadina containing a filling of soft, unaged squaquerone cheese, prosciutto, and spicy wild arugula. Here's a recipe for a gluten free piadina.
Zeppoli are deep fried dough balls or fritters that can be made savory or sweet and are often made on Saint Joseph Day in various parts of Italy The consistency ranges from light and puffy, to bread- or pasta-like.
Learn how to make an amazing fried pizza with the italian funghi loving maestro Carluccio:
If you like the sound of the big golden rice balls, arancini, check out some more interesting facts about their history: Italian Street Food, Big Rice Balls Called Arancini