Discovering Italian Street Food

About Street Food In Italy 

Many people around the world are not aware that Italy has some of the best street food. Italian food is usually synonymous with extravagant meals having multiple courses. However, if you taste Italian street food, you’ll change your perception.

On the streets of Italy, you’ll find vendors that have mastered the art of making fast and delicious food from unique, top-quality ingredients. Read this guide further to find out more about Italy’s street food and where you can find it.

The Culture of Italian Street Food

The culture of Italian street food has been fueled by the increasing busyness of Italians, especially those living in the cities. On many occasions, people don’t have the time to sit at a restaurant and have a meal.

However, the street food culture has a rather interesting background story. Back then, Italian revelers would make early morning stops at food vendor stalls after a night out at the club. They would buy Panini from the vendors positioned strategically. So, at first, it was just individuals enjoying a hot sandwich and fresh pizza with friends as they watched the sunrise and looked forward to spending the rest of the day in bed.

Panini, Discovering Italian Street Food - The Proud Italian

Fast-forward, today street food seems to be enjoying a reincarnation. Suddenly, Italian street food has become in vogue. It saves time in the week for students or individuals whose schedule is tight. It presents people with an option to the traditional meals and a great way to break the daily routine. It is also more pocket-friendly making it more attractive.

What’s more, the street foods are regional. Each region has its Italian street style of making the delicacies. The Italian street menu you find will depend on the region you are visiting. In the next section, you’ll discover the well-liked Italian street food and where you can find them.  

Popular Italian Street Food

Name: Arancini – Sicilian Rice Balls

Origin: Sicily

Taste: Savory

Arancini are big, golden rice balls made from a savory mix of ingredients in the middle. They are very popular in Sicily. Most vendors use meat sauce with peas, dried prosciutto, cheeses like mozzarella and pecorino, tomatoes, or dried capers for the fillings.

Before deep-frying the balls in hot oil, they roll them in breadcrumbs. Deep frying is what produces the golden color. There is a myth that the dish was invented in the 10th century during Kalbid’s reign over Sicily. The dish derives its name from the Italian word for orange, arancia, because of its appearance.

Arancini, Discovering Italian Street Food - The Proud Italian

You’ll find this Italian snack food all over southern Italy. If you happen to be in Palermo on 13th December, you’ll find plenty of Arancini. During this date, the natives usually celebrate the festival of Santa Lucia.

Name: Porchetta Romana  – Fragrant Roast Pork

Origin: Rome

Taste: Savory

The Porchetta Romana is tender, savory boneless pork that is expertly roasted. The pork is usually seasoned with salt and herbs to give it a spicy taste. It is also stuffed with garlic, rosemary, and fennel. Although you can find this insanely delicious meal on many streets in Italy, its origins can be traced to a small town in Rome called Ariccia.

When you order your Porchetta Romana, it will come sliced and piled on a crusty roll resulting in an aromatic sandwich. It is also available by the kilo at food trucks.

Name: Lampredotto – Tripe Sandwich

Origin: Florence

Taste: Savory

Lampredotto, Discovering Italian Street Food - The Proud Italian

If you happen to be in Florence, please don’t leave before trying the local Italian street food, Lampredotto. It starts from the cow’s fourth stomach, the abomasum. It doesn’t sound delicious, right? Hold your horses. The tripe is boiled in a delightful herb-infused tomato soup. It is trendy street food from Florence that locals won’t let you leave before tasting.

You can enjoy the Lampredotto as a standalone on a plate. But you can make the tripe sandwich by serving it on a bun. To enjoy the sandwich more, ask the vendor to dip it in the tomato broth and top it with salsa verde.   

Name: Crema Fritta – Fried Casta

Origin: Veneto

Taste: Sweet

The fried casta needs no introduction; nevertheless, it is among the most delicious foods you can find in the streets of Italy. Crema Fritta is thick custard cream breaded then deep-fried. They usually have a diamond shape, and the best way to enjoy them is straight from the fryer.

You’ll be served the fried casta in a paper cone to allow you to enjoy the mushy treat as you walk the scenic streets of Italy. Just a heads up- one will not be enough!

Name: Zeppole – Italian Doughnuts

Origin: Naples

Taste: Sweet

Zeppole, Discovering Italian Street Food - The Proud Italian

The Zeppole are deep-fried balls of dough that can be found almost everywhere in the streets of Italy. Their origin is believed to be Naples and Rome, but they have spread countrywide. The interesting thing is each town has added its own unique twist to the recipe.

You’ll find these doughnuts mixed with pastry cream, jelly, custard, and sometimes a mixture of butter and honey. They are also topped with powdered sugar. Their consistency range depends on where you buy them.

Although many people usually go to the bakeries to buy their Zeppole, the tastiest ones come from the streets. The street vendors serve them hot and fresh straight from the fryer into a paper bag. Savor street foods while you’re in Italy to get the unique delicacies and local traditions.

Piada/Piadina – Italian Flatbread Sandwich

Origin: Emilia – Romagna

Taste: Sweet

The piada, which is sometimes called the Piadina, is the famous Italian flatbread sandwich. You can make it sweet or savory, depending on the stuffing. It is reported as the specialty of the locals living in Emilia-Romagna, located between the Apennine Mountains and the Adriatic Sea.

Piadina, Discovering Italian Street Food - The Proud Italian

The recipes for this delicacy have been passed down for generations. Some have added a modern touch to the recipes. You cannot afford to go to Emilia-Romagna and fail to taste this delicacy.

The round flatbread is customarily made with white flour and extra virgin oil. As soon as it is ready, it is stuffed with cheese, cold cuts, and vegetables immediately. Ensure you eat it immediately to enjoy the aroma of the freshly baked bread.  

Key Takeaways

Even if you have tasted all of Italy’s famous foods, there is something new you’ve encountered here. A famous saying suggests, “when you go to Rome, do what the Romans do.” Well, that is the most remarkable advice you can give a foodie visiting Italy. Walk the Italian Strada (Italian for street) and taste the local street delicacies from the street food vendors.

Italian street food in Venice, Discovering Italian Street Food - The Proud Italian

It is also great that you can choose either sweet or savory, depending on your taste or mood. Whatever region you are in, you’ll get Italian street food to savor. Talk to the vendors nicely; they might agree to give you the secret family recipe, then when you go back home, you can give it a try!

The greatest takeaway from this post is that good food in Italy is not only found in five-star hotels. If you are traveling on a budget, you can still enjoy plenty of Italian foods fresh from the Italian streets’ fryer. So, which one is your favorite Italian street food?