My buddy Ethan is a good guy to know when you’re bopping around Italy, looking for good things to eat. He knew just where to take us in Bologna, what to recommend in Tuscany and he sent a rather detailed “foodspotting” google map of Rome a few weeks before I arrived there. Under “EAT” he had scribbled “Supplizo – street food, high quality,” and this caught my attention on Day 1. Street food in Italy? Snacks? Yes.
Supplì are typical Roman things – balls of rice flavored with different ingredients, dipped in raw egg, coated in breadcrumbs and fried to a golden brown crunch. They’re similar to Sicilian arancini, although the latter tend to be larger in size and they traditionally do not contain cheese while supplì do. I’m pretty sure that the fillings for both have changed over the years to appeal to a wider range of snackers. Suffice it to say, I didn’t find any supplì with chicken giblets (the classic Roman recipe).
To find out what this popular cibo di strada (street food) is all about we popped into Supplizo on the way to the Vatican. Located on Via dei Banchi Vecchi, this little hole-in-the-wall is quite the trendy spot, with cozy couches and tall bar stools pulled up against a stone wall, decorative elements that give it an elegant, yet homey vibe. There were people of all types there – a couple drinking white wine on the small bench outside, some hipsters, a smartly-dressed businessman on his phone, out for a supplì-break before returning to the office to do whatever Roman businessmen do… Their menu is short and sweet, with 7-8 varieties of supplì, some type of couscous, meatballs and a few other small-plate items.
Three supplì for three chicas, rested and ready to explore the Eternal City. Out of the few types with slightly more creative fillings, we chose the one stuffed with potato, cod and smoked cheese. This long, oval-shaped supplì had a strong smoky flavor from the cheese and a nice mild, creamy texture from the mix of mashed potato and baccala. A tasty treat I would definitely order again.
As is often the case, the first one on the list (named “Classico”) turned out to be the best. This dense little ball had a gorgeous, grainy crust that shattered into crunchy bits of pleasure when bitten into. Greeting the tongue on the inside was a warm rush of plump rice and a creamy bolognese sauce with small pieces of meat bound by a heavenly, naturally sweet tomato sauce. Green shreds of fresh herb are visible throughout, providing an extra layer of flavor. And the melted core of mozzarella that flows out to mix with the rice provides a decadent, dreamy quality to this one.
And finally, the Cacio e Pepe, like a creamy, bread-crusted and fried ball of risotto, flavored with plenty of sharp pecorino and a generous dusting of black pepper to add a pleasant heat. The rice was a perfect texture, al dente (with a bite) but lost in the mess of creamy cheese.
With a generous glass of local rosé, these supplì made for the perfect snack, giving us the energy we needed for our first day of sightseeing in Rome.