In Naples, many traditional pizza restaurants are also “friggatoria,” or purveyors of fried foods. For an always-ready-to-snack traveler like me, the best part about pizzeria/friggatoria restaurants is the streetside service counter (pictured is the counter at il Pizzaiolo dal Presidente, via dei Tribunali, 120). No need to sit down and wait for table service: you can stroll by, drop a very few euros, and receive your choice of deepfried goodness (or pizza), wrapped in paper to keep your fingers clean.
Three fried items seen at most walkup windows in the old part of the city are crocchette, arancini, and tortina di pasta (respectively, potato croquettes, rice balls stuffed with cheese, and pastas & bechamel squares stuffed with meat & green peas).
While the tasty potato croquettes combined a crisp crust with a creamy, almost light interior flecked with fresh parsley, onion, and a bit of cheese, the tortina di pasta stole the show. Simultaneously creamy and crunchy, the tortina’s thin crust gives way to tender pasta and rich bechamel, with a hidden layer of ground pork and green peas tucked inside.
Honestly, if I could walk down the street from my home or office and get a tortina di pasta for lunch for the ridiculously low price of $1.35, I’d eat one every day. Or at least every other day. I’d probably alternate it with the excellent pizza, available at the same crazy-low price. (Fried pizza is another alternative, and it doesn’t cost any more than the oven-baked version.)
In Rome, some pizzerias offer fried foods, though they differ a bit in selection from the Neapolitan model. In the capital city, mozzarella-stuffed rice balls are called suppli al telefono (telephone wires), named for the long strings of molten cheese stretching from each bite. Fried cod often makes an appearance, too.
At Ai Marmi (the “offiicial” name of a place locals call l’orbitorio or the morgue because of its marble-topped tables) on the viale di Trastevere, 53, fried artichokes and fried zucchini flowers stuffed with anchovies and mozzarella are worth a trip across town. Ai Marmi’s suppli are tomato-infused, with a very crunchy outer shell hiding a judicious bit of cheese. It is entirely possible to fill up on the fried offerings at Ai Marmi, but that would be a terrible mistake, as their pizza is among the best in Rome. More on Roman pizza tomorrow…