Exploring the Italian Street Food Scene

From arancino to gnocco, traditional Italian eats are undergoing a contemporary transformation on Italy’s city streets.

Arancini Rice Balls

There’s a delicious trend taking over the traditional food scene in Italy: gourmet street food. We chatted with Mauro Rosati, street food advocate and founder of The Qualivita Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion and protection of quality agri-food products in Italy, about the resurgence of quality Italian street food.

Portable, inexpensive… and delicious?
According to Rosati, it’s possible, with a number of Michelin-starred and creative, young Italian chefs moving their kitchens from restaurants to four-wheels and turning their attention to modernizing traditional recipes. “What now we call street food is nothing more than ancient recipes belonging to our culinary history, from the Neapolitan pizza to the Tuscan lampredotto, from the Sicilian arancina to the Genoese focaccia,” Rosati explains.

Street food gets social
Rosati attributes much of the recent success of gourmet street food to interest from millenials: “Street food owns a social aggregator aspect. Italians, especially thanks to young people, have been discovering the pleasure to eat in the streets, as well as its convivial aspect.” And its popularity is growing. In 2015, from March to June, six cities hosted Streeat Food Truck Festival – ­the first food truck festival in Italy. With more than two dozen trucks touring Rome, Milan, Florence, Bologna, Padova and Sarzana, the trucks offered Italian specialties from around the country, such as galettes, stuffed olives, fried fish, polenta, pizza, fried gnocco, risotto and focaccia. And, of course, social media has played a key role in driving the street food trend. “Street chefs are all very social. They create Facebook, Instagram and many other social profiles and here they share their courses with the community and their followers,” says Rosati.

Modern take on tradition
The popularity of Italian street food is also contributing to the revival of an age-old Italian belief – gioie della tavola or ‘the joys of the table’. The growing gourmet street food scene is a modern take on the joyous experience of combining conversation, community and great food – exchanging the culinary customs of la tavola for the equally inviting city streets of Italy.

Buon Appetito!


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