Stuzzichini: Fried appetizers
So, I’ve been in Italy for almost a month and something keeps coming up when I go out for pizza: stuzzichini – the fried appetizers that are typically served before your pizza. Sure, you don’t have to order the appetizer, but when you’re out with a big group, it’s something that’s just done.
Stuzzichini are also served at ‘Happy Hour‘ – the period before dinner when Italians gather to chat and nibble over an aperitivo (pre-dinner cocktail), beer or wine. Of course, there are several establishments that offer much more than these delicious fried treats. Either way, you’re eating a free buffet of bites with an order of at least 1 drink – that’s right only one. Happy Hour usually begins around 7:00pm and lasts about 2 hours – of course, times and durations vary.
Stuzzichini vary from fried mozzarella and arancini to supplí and potato croquettes. Pictured first, is a delicious supplí from ‘Pizzarium’ in Rome – owned and run by popular bread baker/pizza maker Gabriele Bonci. A supplí is a ball of rice with tomato sauce around mozzarella, coated with breadcrumbs and deep fried. Supplí are typical to Rome, but can be found through out Italy.
The second photo is an innovative stuzzichini creation, from the pizzeria/birreria (beer hall) ‘bir & fud’ in Trastevere, called Gianduja. Similar to the potato croquette, the Gianduja was a ball of mashed potato mixed with fragments of the super spicy Nduja – a sausage made with pork parts and roasted spicy peppers. It is similar to andouille and originates from the Calabria region. The Gianduja is then drizzled with the chocolate of the same name, giving it a deep soothing feel to the spicy kick of the Nduja bits.