When in Rome, do as the Romans do. And when in Italy, eat all of the street food! Italian street food is some of the most delicious and varied in the world. From savory to sweet, there is something for everyone to enjoy while walking around Florence, Milan, or any other city in Italy. In this article, we will explore some of the most popular street foods in Italy and where you can find them. Hit the Italian streets and get ready to sample some of the best eats on offer!
Most Popular Street Food In Italy
Pizza al Taglio
This street food is, of course, pizza! But not just any old pizza. Pizza al Taglio (literally “by the cut”) is a type of pizza popular in Rome and all over central Italy. It originated in the 1950s and is easily one of the most consumed street food in Italy.
It’s made with a dough that’s similar to the one used for Focaccia and is typically rectangular or square in shape. Once it’s out of the oven, it’s cut into pieces with scissors and sold by weight.
Pizza al Taglio is usually topped with either a tomato sauce or a white base, and then various toppings. The most common are potatoes and mozzarella, but you can also find versions with artichokes, ham, and mushrooms.
If you want to try this street food in Rome, head to Forno Campo de’ Fiori, one of the most popular bakeries for pizza al Taglio.
Savory Italian Street Food in Italy
Sfincione is an Italian street food that is popular in Sicily, specifically in the city of Palermo. This thick, soft, and spongy Sicilian pizza is traditionally topped with tomatoes, caciocavallo cheese, anchovies, and oregano.
Sfincione is a street food that dates back to the Middle Ages. It was originally made without tomatoes as they were not introduced to Sicily until after the 16th century.
Nowadays, Sfincione is sold in pizzerias and street food stalls all over Sicily. It’s usually served in a square or rectangular shape and can be eaten as a main meal or as a snack.
Lampredotto is a Florentine specialty that consists of boiled cow stomach, traditionally served in a sandwich. The dish has been around since the 19th century and was originally eaten by workers as a cheap and filling meal.
These days, it’s still popular with locals and tourists alike, although might have to get over the “yuck” factor first if you are not used to consuming organ meat. Although it really doesn’t look anything intimidating visually.
Fans of organ meat would enjoy this unique street food in Italy. If you’re feeling adventurous, head to one of the many street food stalls in Florence that sell Lampredotto sandwiches.
The street food version is usually served with a green sauce made from parsley, garlic, and olive oil, although there are also other sauces you can choose from. If you want the authentic experience, make sure to eat it standing up as the Florentines do.
Panelle are fried chickpea fritters that originate from Sicily. This street food in Italy is usually served as a sandwich filling or on its own as a snack.
They are made by mixing chickpea flour with water, salt, and parsley, then frying the mixture in olive oil until it forms a golden brown crust. The inside of a good Panelle should be soft and fluffy, while the outside should be crispy.
It is particularly common around Palermo where you can find Panelle at street food stalls, sandwich shops, and even some restaurants.
Arancini are fried rice balls that are popular in Sicily and southern Italy. They are typically made with rice, tomato sauce, meat, and cheese, and then coated in breadcrumbs and deep-fried.
Arancini originated in the city of Siracusa but can now be found all over Sicily as well as in other parts of Italy. These days, they come in all sorts of different flavors and sizes, although the traditional Sicilian Arancini are still the most popular.
The fried treat usually come in rounded or cone shape, looking like the Coxinha in Brazilian cuisine. Arancini is also a traditional dish in December during the feast of Santa Lucia in several Silician cities.
If you’re looking for an Italian street food that is both tasty and filling, then be sure to try an arancino or two.
Panzerotti are fried dough pockets that originate from Puglia, the heel of Italy. They’re similar to Calzones, but much smaller (usually about the size of your palm) and usually made with a lighter dough.
The most traditional filling in this traditional Italian street food is tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. However, now you can find all sorts of different fillings, from bacon to ham and cheese. The cheese melts under intense heat and results in a nice gooey filling that will rock your world.
That said, Panzerotti are best enjoyed piping hot, so make sure to grab one (or two… or three!) from a street vendor as soon as they come out of the fryer.
Gnocco Fritto is a street food that hails from the Emilia-Romagna region in Northern Italy. It’s a fluffy, fried dough that’s often served with Salumi (cured meats), Formaggi (cheeses), or vegetables. The dough is made with flour, water, salt, and olive oil, and it’s usually fried in lard or vegetable oil.
Gnocco Fritto is traditionally eaten on Thursdays, which is market day in many Italian towns and cities. You can find it at street food stalls or “Friggitorie” (fried food stands), where it’s often served with a paper cone full of small pieces of Gnocco Fritto for you to nibble on as you walk. Or you can also have it full and fluffed up.
If you’re looking for something a little lighter, try Piadina Romagnola, a thin and crispy flatbread that is popular in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.
A classic street food in Italy, it is often filled with Prosciutto Crudo (cured ham), Squacquerone cheese (a soft and creamy cheese), and Rucola (arugula), but you can also find it with figs or other sweet fillings.
You can find Piadina stands all over the cities of Bologna, Rimini, and Ravenna, where it originates. Make sure to try it while it’s warm and fresh for the ultimate Italian street food experience!
These little pieces of lamb meat are typical street food from the Italian regions of Abruzzo and Molise, in the central part of the country. They are usually made with castrated sheep’s meat, cut into cubes about two centimeters (one inch) wide, and then skewered. The skewers used for Arrosticini are traditionally made of wood from the chestnut tree.
Arrosticini are then grilled over an open flame, and they are usually served with a slice of bread to soak up all the delicious juices. For meat lovers, this has to be one of the best street food in Italy to try.
The Calzone is a pizza-like street food that originates from Naples. This half-moon shaped pie is usually stuffed with mozzarella, ricotta, and Parmesan cheese, as well as ham or salami.
Calzones are typically oven-baked and served hot, making them the perfect street food to enjoy on a chilly day. This tasty dish is now a typical street food in Italy and is also available in restaurants. You will see them commonly in Southern areas and cities like Lazio and Sicily.
For a truly authentic experience, head to Naples and enjoy a Calzone from one of the city’s many pizzerias. Just be warned, it will be piping hot so don’t just bite in hastily although it looks tempting.
Porcetta and Panino con la Porchetta
Porchetta is a traditional Italian street food that can be found all over the country, but especially in central Italy. It’s made with roasted pork that is seasoned with garlic, rosemary, and other spices, then wrapped in a soft, fluffy dough and cooked until golden brown. The result is an incredibly flavorful and moist sandwich that is simply irresistible.
The best place to try Porchetta is in the town of Ariccia, near Rome, where it was invented. But you can find it all over central Italy, often served with a side of roasted potatoes.
If you’re looking for something a little heartier, try a Panino con la Porchetta, a sandwich made with Porchetta and topped with crispy crackling (the crunchy skin of the pork). It’s an incredibly filling street food in Italy, but definitely worth the calories!
A classic Italian street food in Rome is Supplì: rice balls the size of a small fist, usually filled with Ragù (a meat sauce) or mozzarella, coated in breadcrumbs and then deep-fried.
This tasty street food in Italy is believed to have been originated street vendors in the 19th century who wanted to offer customers something delicious yet cheap to make. There are also origin stories that Supplì was created during the occupation of Rome by Napoleon in the 17th century.
In any case, you can find Supplì all over Rome today, and they come in many different flavors. While the classic Ragù filling is still the most popular, you can also find them filled with artichokes, spinach, or even sweet filings.
A street food originating from the Silician region, Scaccia is a type of flatbread that’s usually filled with spinach and ricotta cheese, tomato sauce, anchovies, or potatoes.
It’s then folded up and baked in a wood-fired oven. The result is an incredibly fragrant and tasty street food that’s perfect for a quick snack or light meal.
You can find Scaccia all over Sicily, but it’s especially popular in the city of Lazio, where it’s often sold by street vendors from large trays hung around their necks.
Ascoli Piceno, in the Marche region of Italy, is famous for its olives. But not just any olives – these are the large, meaty “Ascolane” variety that is stuffed with a mix of ground meats, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and spices then fried to perfection.
Who knew you could fry olives! But lo and behold, this creates a delicious, crunchy Italian street food that can be enjoyed as a snack or appetizer. It also goes well as a complement snack with wine or beer. Head to the Central Via Arco d’Augusto in Ascoli Piceno or the coastal areas of Le Marche to find some of the best Olive Ascolane around.
Focaccia di Recco
Focaccia is a flat oven-baked Italian bread that comes in many different varieties. This moist and fluffy bread is just simple yet tasty when done well.
But the best type of focaccia in Italy, and indeed in the world, can be found in the small town of Recco on the Italian Riviera – the Focaccia di Recco. This Italian street food specialty is made with a thin layer of dough and stuffed with stracchino cheese. It tastes and feels like a different dish from the typical Focaccia.
The best way to eat it is warm, straight from the oven. The dough is crispy and the cheese is gooey and delicious. It’s no wonder that this has become a popular street food in Italy.
If you’re in the south of Italy, street food doesn’t get any better than Sgagliozze. These little fried nuggets are made from semolina flour and usually served as a side dish or street food snack. A better way to describe it is fried polenta.
They come from the Apulia region, particularly Bari where they are traditionally fried in olive oil and served with a tomato sauce. But nowadays you can find them all over Italy, often served as street food at fairs and festivals.
Sgagliozze are cut into squares for easy consumption, which makes it a very convenient street food in Italy.
A street food classic from Naples, the Cuoppo is a paper cone filled with fried delights. You can find everything from fried seafood to vegetables, but the most popular option is definitely the “Cuoppo Fritto Misto”, a mix of fried fish, calamari, and shrimp.
The perfect street food in Italy to enjoy while strolling around Naples, the Cuoppo is usually served with a side of fresh lemon to squeeze on top.
If you want to try a Cuoppo but you’re not in Naples, don’t worry: this street food is so popular that you can find it all over Italy.
Pani câ Meusa
An Italian street food that is very popular in Palermo, the capital of Sicily, is Pani câ Meusa.
This dish consists of a spongy bread bun filled with cooked and thinly sliced veal lungs, that are traditionally fried. The dish is then garnished with lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and served with ricotta cheese.
Pani câ Meusa is a street food that has humble origins, as it was originally eaten by the working-class people of Palermo. Today, it’s still a popular street food in Italy, and you can find it being sold from street carts all over the city.
If you’re up for it, Pani câ Meusa is definitely a street food you should try when in Sicily!
Continuing on the organ and innards food tour; If street food for you is all about the meat, then Stigghiola is the dish for you.
This street food from Sicily consists of pieces of grilled intestines, usually lamb or sheep, wrapped around leeks and flavored with lemon and chili pepper. You want this to be freshly grilled as they taste the best.
They can be cut into small pieces or served on a piece of bread, making it the perfect street food in Italy to grab on the go. While Stigghiola may not be for everyone, it’s definitely worth trying for foodies who want a taste of everything.
Sweet Italian Street Food In Italy
A classic Italian street food from Naples, Sfogliatelle are flaky, ricotta-filled pastries that come in the shape of a shell or a rose. The dough is made with flour, water, and lard, and it’s rolled out very thin before being formed into the desired shape. Once filled with ricotta, the Sfogliatelle are baked until golden brown.
There are two types of sfogliatelle: “Sfogliatella Riccia”, with a flaky dough, and “Sfogliatella Frolla”, with a shortcrust pastry dough. While both types are delicious, the Riccia is the original and most popular version.
You can find Sfogliatelle all over Italy, but they’re especially common in street food markets and bakeries in Naples. If you like crispy croissants, be sure to try this street food in Italy. They are also popular for breakfasts in Italy.
These tubular fried pastry doughs filled with sweet, creamy ricotta are one of the most iconic Italian street foods. Cannoli are believed to have originated in Sicily, and the name is derived from the Latin word “canna”, meaning reed or cane.
The traditional cannolo is made with a shell of fried dough that is rolled into a tube shape and then filled with sweet ricotta, chocolate chips, and cream The ends of the Cannoli are dipped in pistachio or candied fruits for the finishing touch, adding both flavor and visual effects.
While Cannoli are enjoyed all over Italy, they are especially popular in Sicily, where they are often served as a dessert after a hearty meal. Many also have them as street food in Italy, but they can get a bit messy with the generous cream oozing out. It’s literally finger licking good.
Gelato and Gelato Brioche
No list of Italian street food would be complete without mentioning gelato! This delicious frozen treat is made with milk, cream, sugar, and flavored with fruit or chocolate.
Gelato is thought to have originated in Florence, and the first gelateria (gelato shop) is said to have opened there in the 16th century. Nowadays, gelato is available all over Italy, and it’s a popular Italian street food for both locals and tourists alike.
You can also enjoy this sweet treat in a brioche. With this genius combination, Gelato brioche is a soft, sweet bun stuffed with creamy, heavenly ice cream. It is said to have been invented in Sicily. The best way to eat it is to take a big bite of the brioche so that the ice cream starts oozing out, then lick it all up before it melts!
A street food that is typically enjoyed around Christmas time, Zeppole are fried dough balls that are sprinkled with icing sugar and often filled with cream.
They’re believed to have originated in the southern Italian region of Campania, where they were created by peasants as a way to use up leftover bread dough. Nowadays, they’re a popular street food all over Italy, and you can find them filled with anything from chocolate to ricotta cheese.
This straight-up doughnut ball is simple yet super delicious and customizable; you can sometimes even choose your fillings when made to order. It is also a common street food in Italy during Christmas time, and you will find it offered in the pop-up street stalls.
In fact, several countries in Europe have their version of Zeppole.
Cannoncini alla Crema
A Cannonicni is a baked pastry dough tube, typically filled with sweetened ricotta cheese. Sounds familiar? Because they kind of vaguely resemble Cannoli. In the street food version, the ricotta is replaced by cream and it’s served in a small, conical shape.
You can get Cannoncini alla Crema almost everywhere in Italy, from Venice to Rome, but they have their origins in the Piedmonte region.
The dough is made with flour, water, sugar, eggs, butter, wine and a pinch of salt. Once cooked and cooled down, it’s filled with cream and served as is or dusted with powdered sugar. It is also not uncommon to find other fillings such as chocolate and custard.
Cioccolata Calda (Hot Chocolate)
This is the street food for those with a sweet tooth. Cioccolata Calda, or Italian hot chocolate, is a rich and creamy drink that will warm you up on a cold day.
It’s made with milk, dark chocolate, and cocoa powder, and it’s often served with marshmallows or whipped cream.
You can find Cioccolata Calda all over Italy, but it’s especially popular in the winter months. If you’re in Rome, head to one of the city’s many street carts or cafes for a cup of this delicious hot chocolate.
Discovering Tasty Italian Street Food In Italy
These are just some of the most popular street foods in italy that can be found throughout the country. If you’re traveling to Italy, it’s important to know what street food to not miss. After all, who wants to go hungry when there are so many delicious options available
From savory to sweet, street food in Italy comes in various shapes and tastes to wow your tastebud. They are a great introduction to Italian cuisine as well before you move to the main traditional Italian dishes.