Italian Street Food: 20 delicious treats to try

Apr 13, 2023 | Blog, Italian Culture & Traditions, Travel

Silvana Lanzetta

Silvana Lanzetta

Artisan pasta maker

Get ready to dive into the vibrant world of Italian street food! These tempting culinary delights, unique to each region, offer a mouthwatering glimpse into Italy’s rich gastronomic heritage. From savory snacks to delectable desserts, Italian street food promises an unforgettable journey for your taste buds, reflecting centuries of tradition and culture.

Italian Street Foods - gelato
Close your eyes. Imagine yourself strolling along a quaint cobblestone street in Italy. Suddenly, the enticing scents from nearby street food stalls beckon you closer.
You’re about to set off on a captivating culinary journey! We are going to set off into Italy’s rich gastronomic history through 20 delectable street foods from its diverse regions. With each morsel, you’ll delve into the rich history and time-honoured flavours that have been lovingly preserved through generations. So, are you prepared for this epicurean adventure? Let’s begin!
Italian Street Foods - Porchetta
Italian Street Foods - Arancini Siciliani

Arancini 

Italian Street Foods - Piadina Romagnola

Piadina

Italian Street Foods - Focaccia di Recco

Focaccia di Recco

Italian Street Foods - Supplì

Supplì

Italian Street Foods - Porchetta

Porchetta

Arancini (Sicily)

Arancini are scrumptious, deep-fried rice balls that originated in Sicily, a beautiful island off the coast of Italy. Dating back to the 10th century, these delightful morsels get their name from the Italian word “arancia,” which means “orange,” as their shape and colour resemble little oranges.
To make arancini, risotto rice is cooked with saffron, which gives the rice its signature golden hue. The rice is then shaped into balls or cones and filled with a variety of mouth-watering ingredients. Meat ragĂą, peas, and oozy mozzarella are the traditional fillings. Once filled, the rice balls are coated in breadcrumbs and deep-fried. This achieves a crisp and golden exterior, while the inside remains tender and flavourful.
These delectable rice balls are a popular street food in Sicily, often enjoyed as a quick meal or a delicious snack on-the-go.

Piadina (Emilia-Romagna)

Piadina, a delicious and versatile flatbread hailing from the Emilia-Romagna region in Italy. With roots dating back to ancient Roman times, piadina has since become a popular street food and a beloved staple of Italian cuisine.
Often compared to a thin, soft tortilla, piadina is made from a simple dough of flour, water, and fat—usually lard or olive oil. The dough is then rolled out into a thin, round shape and cooked on a flat griddle or a terracotta dish called a “testo.” The result is a light and pliable flatbread that can be easily folded or wrapped around a variety of fillings.
One of the best things about piadina is its adaptability. You can fill it with various combinations of ingredients, such as prosciutto, squacquerone cheese, and rocket. Or opt for a vegetarian version with grilled vegetables. Whether you enjoy it as a quick lunch or a scrumptious snack at a local kiosk or street food stall, piadina offers endless possibilities for satisfying your cravings.

Focaccia di Recco (Liguria)

Focaccia di Recco is a mouthwatering flatbread that comes from the coastal town of Recco in Liguria, a region in Northern Italy.
What sets Focaccia di Recco apart from other types of focaccia is its incredibly thin crust and the generous layer of creamy, fresh cheese sandwiched between the dough.
To make the focaccia, stretch out a thin layer of dough. Then top it with a generous dollops of fresh cheese—usually crescenza or stracchino—and then cover it with another thin layer of dough.
Bake it until the crust turns golden and crisp, and the cheese becomes gooey and melted.
Historically, Focaccia di Recco was prepared during religious celebrations. Nowadays, it’s enjoyed year-round, with locals and visitors alike flocking to bakeries and street food vendors to indulge in this savoury delight. The irresistible combination of a crispy crust and creamy cheese filling makes Focaccia di Recco a must-try when visiting the Liguria region.

Supplì (Lazio)

Supplì are scrumptious, deep-fried rice croquettes that originated in Rome, the heart of the Lazio region in Italy. This popular Roman street food has been delighting locals and tourists alike since the 19th century.
Each delicious morsel of supplì is made with cooked risotto rice. The it’s flavoured with tomato sauce and, sometimes, minced meat. The rice mixture is then shaped into small ovals, each one containing a piece of gooey, melting mozzarella cheese in the centre. The croquettes are then coated with breadcrumbs and deep-fried to golden-brown perfection. This results in a crispy outer shell and a flavorful, cheesy interior.
Supplì are typically served as appetisers or snacks in local pizzerias, street food stands, and even at special events. They’re perfect for enjoying on-the-go while strolling through Rome’s ancient streets, and exploring the city’s rich history.

Porchetta (Marche)

Porchetta is a mouthwatering, savoury, slow-roasted pork dish that hails from the Marche region in central Italy. This iconic Italian delicacy has been around for centuries, and its rich flavour and tender, juicy meat make it a true culinary gem.
To create this heavenly dish, a whole pig is deboned and seasoned with an aromatic blend of garlic, rosemary, and other herbs and spices. The seasoned pig is then rolled up, tied, and slow-roasted in a wood-fired oven. It takes several hours of cooking for the meat to become tender and the skin to turn crispy and golden.
Slicing the porchetta reveals a delightful combination of succulent meat, fragrant herbs, and crispy crackling. It is then served as the centrepiece of a meal or stuffed into a sandwich. You’ll often find porchetta at Italian street markets, food festivals, and special events, where it’s enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.

Seadas (Sardinia)

You must try seadas! These mouthwatering pastries are a Sardinian treasure with centuries of history. Imagine a delicate dough made from flour, water, and sometimes lard or butter, rolled out into thin discs. Each disc is filled with a delightful mixture of sweet pecorino cheese and fragrant lemon zest, then covered with another thin disk and sealed.
Now, picture these heavenly parcels deep-fried to a perfect golden brown. Served warm and drizzled generously with honey or sugar, the sweetness balances the savoury, tangy pecorino cheese filling. When you’re in Sardinia, you’ll find these delightful treats at local restaurants, bakeries, and food festivals. Don’t miss the chance to indulge in this exquisite taste of Sardinian culinary tradition!

Puccia (Puglia)

Let me introduce you to puccia, a scrumptious street food hailing from the sun-kissed region of Puglia. Puccia is a round, slightly leavened bread with a soft and chewy texture that begs to be filled with mouthwatering ingredients. As you wander through Puglia, you’ll come across various delicious fillings. Cured meats, cheeses, and fresh, flavourful veggies that highlight the region’s culinary delights.
Puccia’s history is as interesting as its taste. It’s believed to have originated as a clever way for local bakers to use up leftover pizza dough. Today, this versatile and satisfying bread has become a staple in Puglian street food, making it a must-try when you’re in the region.

Sciatt (Lombardy)

Let me take you on a virtual trip to Lombardy, specifically to the picturesque Valtellina Valley, where you’ll find the delightful street food known as sciatt. These tempting cheese-filled buckwheat fritters are a true culinary gem of the region. When fried, they resemble small, plump toads, which is where their name “sciatt” comes from, as it means “toad” in the local dialect.
What makes sciatt so irresistible is the contrast between their crispy, golden exterior and the gooey, melted cheese hidden inside. Typically enjoyed with a glass of local wine or as a delicious appetiser, these scrumptious fritters have a way of drawing you in with their unique texture and flavour.
So, if you ever find yourself wandering through the breathtaking Valtellina Valley in Lombardy, be sure to treat yourself to some sciatt.

Arrosticini (Abruzzo)

Arrosticini is a beloved street food and culinary treasure originating from the Abruzzo region in Italy. These mouthwatering skewers of grilled, cubed lamb or mutton are a true delight for meat lovers.
The tradition of arrosticini dates back to the shepherding communities in the region. They would use the lean cuts of meat to create these delicious skewers. Arrosticini are cooked on a special narrow grill called “fornacella,” which allows the skewers to be cooked evenly and quickly, resulting in tender, juicy bites that are irresistible.
The preparation of arrosticini is quite simple, yet incredibly flavorful. The meat is seasoned with only with salt. Sometimes it’s accompanied by a drizzle of olive oil or a sprinkle of dried herbs. This minimalistic approach lets the natural flavours of the lamb or mutton shine through.
When you find yourself in Abruzzo and come across a street food vendor serving arrosticini, make sure to indulge in this authentic Italian treat. Savour the rich, tender meat, grilled to perfection, as you immerse yourself in the region’s rich culinary heritage.

Gelato al Bergamotto (Calabria)

Gelato al Bergamotto is a delightful way to immerse yourself in the Calabria’s culinary culture.
Gelato al Bergamotto is not only a delicious and refreshing treat, but also a testament to the region’s rich agricultural heritage. In fact, Calabria is the main cultivation area for bergamot oranges in Italy. Calabrese people takes pride in incorporating this fragrant citrus fruit into various culinary creations. And gelato al Bergamotto is a shining example of this.
The bergamot orange, with its unique blend of sweet, tangy, and sour flavours, adds a distinctive touch to the creamy gelato. The fruit’s zest is infused into the gelato mixture, which consists of milk, cream, and sugar. The result is a light, citrusy, and aromatic frozen dessert that perfectly balances sweetness and tanginess. You can find gelato al Bergamotto at local gelaterias, especially in Reggio Emilia. The gelato is particularly popular during the hot summer months, when locals and visitors alike seek to cool down and indulge in the region’s unique flavours.
Italian Street Foods - Seadas

Seadas

Italian Street Foods - Puccia Salentina

Puccia 

Italian Street Foods - Sciatt

Sciatt

Italian Street Foods - Piadina Romagnola

Arrosticini

Italian Street Foods - Gelato al Bergamotto

Gelato al Bergamotto

Italian Street Foods - Strauben

Strauben

Italian Street Foods - Chicchetti

Chicchetti

Italian Street Foods - Cuoppo

Cuoppo

Italian Street Foods - Gubana

Gubana

Italian Street Foods - Miacce

Miacce

Strauben (Trentino-Alto Adige)

Strauben, a delightful and unique fried pastry, hails from the breathtaking Trentino-Alto Adige region in northern Italy. This region is known for its Tyrolean and Bavarian culinary influences, and Strauben is no exception. Also referred to as “straboli” or “strĂĽben,” this delicious dessert features a distinct spiral shape that adds to its visual appeal.
The batter consists of flour, eggs, milk, and a touch of sugar. The batter is then poured through a funnel into hot oil, resulting in delicate, crispy swirls that form the spiral-shaped pastry. Once the strauben is fried to perfection, it’s dusted with powdered sugar, adding a light sweetness to its crisp exterior.
You can enjoy strauben with a drizzle of local honey or a dollop of fruity preserves, enhancing its irresistible flavours. This delectable treat is a must-try when visiting Trentino-Alto Adige, especially during local festivities and street fairs.

Chicchetti (Veneto)

Cicchetti (pronounced “chi-KET-tee”) are small, appetising bites traditional of the Veneto region of Italy. They are similar to Spanish tapas and offer an exciting way to explore local flavours and ingredients in a casual, convivial setting.
Cicchetti can be found at bars, osterias, and bacari (Venetian wine bars). They are often displayed on countertops, making it easy for patrons to choose their favourites. The assortment of cicchetti varies greatly, allowing for a diverse and ever-changing culinary experience.
Common cicchetti dishes include crostini (slices of bread topped with spreads, like whipped salt cod or mushroom pâté), polpette (meatballs or fish balls), marinated seafood, fried calamari, stuffed olives, and various cheeses and cured meats. Vegetarian options like grilled or marinated vegetables, and frittata are also popular choices.

Cuoppo Napoletano (Campania)

Cuoppo Napoletano is a delectable, portable street food experience that comes straight from the bustling streets of Naples, in the Campania region of Italy. Known for their love of frying, Neapolitans have perfected the art of creating an assortment of deep-fried delicacies served together in a convenient paper cone, or “cuoppo.”
The contents of a Cuoppo Napoletano can vary, but it typically includes a mix of seafood, vegetables, and other local specialities. Expect to find bites of fried calamari, anchovies, shrimp, courgettes, and aubergines. And sometimes, even small pieces of mozzarella in carrozza (a fried mozzarella sandwich). Each morsel is coated in a light, crispy batter that adds a satisfying crunch to every bite.
Cuoppo offers an incredible opportunity to sample a variety of Campanian flavours in one portable package. As you stroll through the vibrant streets of Naples be sure to stop at a street food vendor to enjoy this mouthwatering, iconic treat.

Gubana (Friuli Venezia Giulia)

Gubana is a spiral-shaped pastry traditional of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region in northeastern Italy. A true delight, Gubana boasts a yeasted dough that encases a rich, flavourful filling.
The filling of Gubana is an enticing mixture of chopped nuts, raisins, and sugar, delicately spiced with vanilla and cinnamon. The dough is rolled around the filling, creating the pastry’s signature swirled pattern. After baking, the Gubana is often dusted with a light sprinkle of powdered sugar and served warm.
Gubana is traditionally associated with festive occasions such as Christmas and Easter. However, you can indulge in this sweet pastry year-round as a special treat from the Friuli Venezia Giulia region. Whether you find yourself in a local bakery or attending a regional festival, don’t miss out on the opportunity to savour this delectable dessert.

Miacce (Piedmont)

Miacce is a traditional Italian flatbread originating from the Val Vigezzo area in Piedmont, a region in northwest Italy. These thin, crepe-like flatbreads are made from a simple batter consisting of flour, water, and a pinch of salt. The batter is then poured onto a hot griddle or pan and cooked until slightly crispy on the edges.
Some people prefer to savour miacce plain, while others like to serve them with sweet toppings such as honey, jam, or Nutella. Alternatively, miacce are delicious filled with savoury ingredients like cheese and cold cuts. This bread is a versatile and delicious snack or meal option.
Though not as known as other Italian flatbreads, miacce remains a cherished culinary tradition in the Piedmont region. And especially in the Val Vigezzo area, where locals and visitors alike enjoy this simple yet satisfying dish.

Torta al Testo (Umbria)

Torta al testo is a traditional, rustic flatbread hailing from the beautiful region of Umbria, located in central Italy. This centuries-old bread is made from a simple dough consisting of flour, water, and yeast. It’s cooked on a flat iron skillet or a round, flat stone called a “testo,” which imparts a slightly smoky flavour and a dense, chewy texture to the bread.

Torta al testo is incredibly versatile. It can be enjoyed plain or sliced open and filled with an assortment of savoury ingredients like prosciutto, cheese, or vegetables, making it the perfect companion for a quick meal or a satisfying snack. The bread is often found at street food markets and festivals in Umbria. It’s a must-try if you find yourself wandering through the region’s charming towns and picturesque landscapes

U’ Pastizz ‘rtunnar (Basilicata)

U’ Pastizz ‘rtunnar is a scrumptious savoury baked turnover from the Basilicata region in southern Italy. It holds a special place in the hearts of the locals due to its traditional significance and delectable flavours.
The filling of u’ pastizz ‘rtunnar is mouthwatering. It’s made with a combination of fresh seasoned pork or goat meat, egg, cheese, salt, diced parsley, pepper, and extra virgin olive oil. The dough is made with durum wheat flour, lard, water, extra virgin olive oil, and salt. It envelops the filling, creating a delightful balance of flavours and textures.
Traditionally, u’ pastizz ‘rtunnar is prepared during special events and celebrations. Its half-moon shape holds cultural significance, symbolising female fertility and prosperity. You can find this tasty street food at bakeries, restaurants, and pizzerias throughout the Basilicata region.

Cecina (Toscana)

Cecina is a delicious, thin, unleavened flatbread made from chickpea flour, a culinary gem that originates from the coastal regions of Italy, such as Tuscany and Liguria. It goes by different names depending on the region, such as farinata in Liguria and socca in the nearby French region of Provence.
This savoury, pancake-like treat is made from a simple batter of chickpea flour, water, olive oil, and salt. The batter is poured into a large, shallow pan, traditionally a copper one, and baked in a hot oven. As it cooks, the cecina develops a golden, slightly crispy exterior with a soft, creamy interior.
Cecina is served warm, either as a standalone snack or accompanied by fresh, local toppings such as rosemary, black pepper, onions, or even cheese. You can find it in bakeries, pizzerias, and street food stalls, often sold by weight or in slices.

Pizzelle (Molise)

Pizzelle are delightful, thin, crispy, waffle-like cookies that originate from the Molise region of Italy. These delicate treats are made using a simple batter consisting of flour, eggs, sugar, and butter or oil. The batter is then placed into a special pizzelle iron, which is similar to a waffle iron. This iron, called “Lu Ferre,” features intricate patterns that give the cookies their distinct and beautiful appearance.
Once cooked, pizzelle can be enjoyed plain or dusted with powdered sugar for a touch of sweetness. They can also be filled with delicious spreads like Nutella or jam to create an indulgent dessert. Besides their delightful taste, pizzelle are very versatile. They can be shaped into various forms, such as bowls or cones, to hold other sweet treats like ice cream or fruit.
Pizzelle are often served during local festivals, celebrations, and holiday gatherings, making them a popular street food option.

Fontina Valdostana and Jambon de Bosse Panini (Valle d’Aosta)

Fontina Valdostana and Jambon de Bosses panini is a mouth-watering sandwich from de Valle d’Aosta region, in northwest Italy.
It combines two exquisite ingredients from the Valle d’Aosta region in northwest Italy. This delicious panini showcases the region’s culinary traditions and offers a taste of the Alps in a simple yet satisfying meal.
The panini starts with fresh, rustic local whole-wheat bread. It’s then filled with generous portions of Fontina Valdostana and Jambon de Bosses. Fontina Valdostana is a local specialty cheese. Known for its nutty, creamy flavour, it has excellent melting properties. Jambon de Bosses is a highly prized, dry-cured ham. It has a delicate, sweet taste and aromatic fragrance, and it’s produced following traditional techniques.
Once assembled, the panini is grilled until the Fontina melts and the bread turns golden and crispy. The combination of the melted cheese and the flavourful ham creates a harmonious blend of flavours and textures that is sure to delight you.
online pasta making classes

Torta al Testo

Italian Street Foods - U' Pastizz 'rtunnar

U’ Pastizz ‘rtunnar

online pasta making classes

Cecina

Italian Street Foods - Pizzelle

Pizzelle

Italian Street Foods - Panino con fonduta valdostana e jambon de bosse

Fontina Valdostana and Jambon de Bosse Panini

restaurant tables on a street in trastevere- rome0

Restaurant in Trastevere – Rome

Are you ready to savour the myriad flavours that define Italian street food’s scene?

As we come to the end of our mouthwatering journey through Italy’s diverse street food offerings, it’s clear that each region has its unique culinary gems, steeped in history and tradition. As you venture forth to experience these gastronomic delights first-hand, I encourage you to immerse yourself in the local flavours and customs that have shaped these delicacies.
Which of these street foods have captured your imagination the most? Are you tempted to try the savoury richness of porchetta, or are you yearning for the sweet, crispy goodness of pizzelle? Perhaps you’re excited to discover even more hidden culinary treasures as you explore the picturesque streets and squares of Italy’s enchanting regions.
I hope that I’ve inspired you to embark on your own epic food adventure through the Italian streets, uncovering the authentic tastes and experiences that will create unforgettable memories. Buon viaggio e buon appetito!

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