A quick gastronomic break, enjoyed al fresco. Street food has become the latest tasty trend, but in this field Rome already has a strong tradition.
Pizza, for starters. Walking in the city, you cannot help but notice the truly remarkable number of pizza slice shops known as pizzerie a taglio. Of course quantity does not always mean quality, but word of mouth is enough to avoid any mistakes. The type of pizza served, whether alla pala (a long rectangular pizza named after the pala, or peel), or in teglia (cooked in a tray) is down to chance, but as far as toppings are concerned, the choice is down to you. We would, however, like to offer just one suggestion: bakery pizzas. Either “red” or “plain”.
The first with a touch of tomato and a drizzle of oil; so tasty. The second golden in colour, the stuff of every Italian student’s lunch break that can be treated like a sandwich and filled with anything you can think of, although the perfect match is mortadella, known in Rome as mortazza. Hunger pangs can also be satisfied by a rotisserie, or rosticceria. You may well plump for the supplì, which are Italian oval shaped croquettes filled with rice and mozzarella that are breaded and fried. The mozzarella melts during cooking and when eaten creates the classic cheese string, leading this delicacy to be called supplì al telefono, or ‘telephone supplì’. As an alternative to the supplì, or better still with them, you can choose a folded pizza known as a calzone, which can be either fried or baked if the waistline is an issue. These are made with the same dough used for pizzas, with the dough folded over on itself in a half moon shape. In Rome the most common filling consists of mozzarella and prosciutto cotto (cooked ham).
Another two thoroughly delicious fried dishes that represent the Roman Jewish culinary culture, are filetti di baccalà, or fried salt cod fillets, and fiori di zucchina, fried courgette flowers. These are finger-licking foods, if only for the obligatory oil drips. Unforgettable. The fillets are dipped in batter and then thrown into boiling oil. The courgette flowers, which must be field fresh, are stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies.
To finish, enjoy a refreshing moment with a grattachecca, a Roman speciality dessert. You can buy this from street kiosks in the city, usually open only during the summer months. Grattachecca is the simplest concept imaginable, made from ice shards mixed with your choice of different flavours of sweet syrups, which can often be combined for you. But there is one condition, the ice should not be crushed using a blender, but rather scraped by hand from blocks of ice with a special tool. The result may seem the same to look at, but on the palette it is something else entirely.