Italian Street Food
Exploring the Italian Street Food Scene
From pizza al taglio to trapizzino, traditional Italian eats are undergoing a contemporary transformation on Italy’s city streets.
It’s no secret that Italy beats other countries when it comes to homegrown cuisine. Since in Naple maccheroni ( a type of pasta) where sold at every corner, street food has been an important part of Italian food tradition. In a longer time-scale in the ancient Greco-Roman world the thermopolia, cook-shops, where commercial establishments where it was possible to purchase ready-to-eat food. Unsurprisingly, Italy has absolutely mastered the art of serving food anywhere, anytime.
It is said that three in four Italians eat street food now and the Italian food magazine, Gambero Rosso, has even published a guide to the sector as a response to the ever-increasing amount of festivals dedicated to the subject. Just last year the number of street food vendors to a number that surpasses 2,200.
It’s a fact that competition is fierce and customer expectation is high. To distinguish oneself and excel in the field it’s essential to plan well and have solid ideas on how to market the business, especially in the initial phases of the start-up.
Italy is fundamentally conservative in what concerns food, so innovation has to start from this principle: Italian regional traditions will always be held in high esteem by the public. Authentic Italian food focuses on using fresh, high quality ingredients, put together simply, which come together to create something very special.
Emphasis on traditional dishes, authentically prepared and faithful to a region’s heritage will always be a good place to start. Quality is key word in all this and those who stay true to ‘Made in Italy’ will not lose clients. People want to see Italian inspire street food even if it’s a hamburger that uses Italian ingredients.
Innovation must be married to tradition or better, mostly innovation starts from tradition. In fact street food is a wonderfully unique way of connecting traditional cooking techniques: an example: slow fermented sourdough pizzas. A lot of authentic pizzerias use again this traditional procedure. The dough is fermented for 24 hours with natural yeast and contains just salt, water and flour. It’s much lighter and easier to digest.
Street food has ever existed. Earlier classified as Junk Food or peasant food, nowadays it’s reevaluating in different viewpoints like bio, vegan and many others and it became a popular way of enjoying freshly cooked food on the go.. Even more, street food now is considered gourmet food.
There are certain types of traditional recipes that respond well to novelty. The new trend involved, 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 Italy’s culinary history.
In ancient Italy eating out ‘in the streets’ might have been associated with the ‘lower classes’, but not anymore. In fact, street food has become a significant component of the urban food culture and way of life.
With a vast variety of options available ‘anytime – everywhere’ and at a much affordable price, the strong Italian street food trend is here to stay. With their fresh ingredients, ‘out-of-the-box’ flavors and competitive pricing, such food items not only provide a point of differentiation but are also very well positioned in the cut-throat Italian foodservice industry.
Much of the recent success of gourmet street food to is due to his 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. Since 2015, six cities hosted Street Food Truck Festival – the first food truck festival in Italy. With more than two dozen trucks touring Rome, Milan, Florence, Bologna, etc., they offered Italian specialties from around the country. And, of course, social media has played a key role in driving the street food trend.