Though Rome’s gastronomic scene is filled with romantic tales of roasted pork and mozzarella being enjoyed at a quaint café, or orecchiette pasta and spinach being noshed on from a rooftop eatery, not every tasty dish around The Eternal City is relegated to these standards. Oftentimes, when looking for a city’s top tastes, you must turn to its street food — snacks, staples and treats that can either get you through the day, or hold you over wonderfully until that three-course meal that evening. Here are the basic items we just can’t live without.
Think of a trapizzino as a beautiful pizza pocket, a triangular-shaped sandwich made of crispy pizza bread, overflowing with traditional Roman eats such as pollo alla cacciatora (spicy chicken), picchiapò (stewed beef) and trippa alla romana (tripe). 00100 Pizza was first on the street with this satisfying creation, and it likes to charm your stomach with seasonal Roman recipes as well as more inspired inventions such as zighinì(beef stew with berberè spice), baccalà alla puttanesca (picante cod) and seppie con piselli (squid in red sauce with peas). Our favorite? Polpette (meatballs).
Imagine a compact deep-fried rice ball that allows an elastic-like cord of soft, warm cheese to seep out immediately after you bite it in half. This is a supplì, a treat most commonly found at take-away pizza spots. Arcangelo Dandini, creative force behind Rome’s famed restaurant L’Arcangelo, has taken supplì up a notch with Supplizio, a one-stop corner shop of deep-fried goodness. Traditional red and white supplì (basic rice and rice cooked in tomato sauce) are heralded alongside mashed potato croquettes and some of Arcangelo’s more inventive street creations such as crema fritta (fried sweet pecorino and cinnamon) and pallotte cacio e uova (a fried ball of pecorino, egg and aromatic herbs).
Rome is insufferably hot from mid-June to the end of August, which makes for a very uncomfortable summer. There is one solution, though: grattachecca, freshly shaved ice that’s topped with syrups and fruit such as coconut chunks. Rome’s more historic grattachecca kiosks (strategically placed on the two thoroughfares paralleling the Tiber River) are usually family-fun stands where one employee shaves ice while someone else caters to your flavor whim. These popular stands stay open through the end of September, keeping hours well after midnight.
Photo Courtesy of Erica Firpo