You may think of street food as the treat you give yourself on your cheat-night, or as the exciting alternative to a normal restaurant you seek when visiting a foreign country and wanting to experience local culture to its fullest. The resurgence of a certain type of vintage aesthetic has also turned the food truck into a romantic, often stylish element of our urban landscapes. We have come to expect it to serve top-quality, gourmet delicacies, that combine comfort food with fresh local ingredients and enriches our experience of global cuisine. Some companies, however, are hesitant when it comes to hiring a food truck for their corporate events. Will it be appropriate? Will it detract from the gravitas of the whole event? Can the quality really be up to par with a high-profile event? When it comes to Italian street food, we are fully confident that these legitimate concerns can be addressed and assuaged. Check out the top 5 Italian street food recipes you should serve at your corporate event.
First of all: why should I serve street food at my corporate event?
Because there are outstanding culinary experiences that no traditional catering can give you. Of course a professional catering service will treat your guests to sophisticated international recipes prepared with top-quality ingredients. And yet the very nature of catering cuts out a lot of options that can only be thoroughly enjoyed when they are prepared and consumed in the same space and within a matter of minutes, partly because the food itself is at its tastiest when it’s freshly made and partly because the whole experience is worth savouring in itself. While you might be able to enjoy a Sicilian arancina that has been prepared a few hours previously and then left to cool off before being served, the same can’t be said for the typical arrosticini from Abruzzo or their close relatives, the Apulian Gnummareddi. Here are our top 5 Italian street food recommendations.
1. Arrosticini: hot, sizzling and delicious, straight off the grill
Arrosticini are the best known recipe from Abruzzo and they basically consist of delicious, hot and sizzling lamb skewers, to be consumed straight off the grill. The meat gets chopped up into bite-sized cubes and skewered on 20-30 cm sticks, alternating lean meat and bits of fat, which will melt make the rest of the meat juicier, softer and tastier. While there are appliances that automate the process of making arrosticini, the whole process of preparing them by hand, possibly in plain sight of those who are going to eat them, enhances the whole experience. This particular dish is best prepared and served outdoors though, as you might not want your venue smelling like a delicious barbecue for the rest of the event, particularly if you expect your attendees to be able to concentrate on anything other than food afterwards.
2. Cuoppo – get your hands dirty!
If you visit Naples and want to experience the local street food, you might go straight for pizza. And you would be wrong. Pizza is not street food in Naples (but it is in Rome). If you wish to try proper Neapolitan street food, you should get yourself a cuoppo. A typical cuoppo (sometimes called a land cuoppo) is served in a paper cone and it comprises several fried goodies: riceballs, potato-mash croquettes with a filling of ham and cheese, fried mozzarella cubes, fried dough-balls with a filling of algae or squash blossoms, fried pizza dough and bite-sized pasta omelettes (yes, that is a thing). There are also entirely fish-based versions of the cuoppo, containing various types of seafood tempura (typically anchovies, shrimps and codfish). This too is a dish better prepared outdoors, although it might be enough to have a separate lunch- or dining-area with a functioning extractor hood.
3. Cicchetti – the Italian tapas (but don’t get the region wrong!)
First of all, beware in which Italian region you ask for a cicchetto. If you are anywhere but in Veneto, you will in al likelihood be given a shot of vodka or rum. In Veneto, on the other hand, a cicchetto (pronounced chicketto) is what you might know as a Spanish tapa. Typically designed a starter or as part of an aperitivo, cicchetti are an excellent solution if you want to treat your guests to a mid-morning snack, but you still need them to be focused for the rest of the day. Because of their particular nature, which matches fresh bread with cooked toppings, cicchetti should be consumed immediately after being prepared. If you want your food truck to be particularly scenic, you could arrange for the toppings – such as sautéed codfish, meatballs or polenta – to be cooked in plain view of your guests, allowing them to compose their ideal combination and have it freshly made.
4. Gnocco Fritto – it’s not what it sounds like
Are you thinking of gnocchi? You are mistaken. This scrumptious recipe, typical of certain parts of Emilia Romagna, has nothing to do with that. Bear in mind that this region has perhaps the largest, oldest and most appreciated tradition of cured meats in the world. It is therefore unsurprising that local recipes have developed around the desire to make the best out of the endless variety of ham and salami types on offer. A gnocco fritto is a simple slice of fried dough that can be either filled or topped with mortadella, raw ham, salami or any other similar product, often accompanied by parmesan cheese or lard. It should be served hot, with freshly cut meat, as the heat from the dough will melt the meat’s natural fat, transforming the combination in a sublime harmony of flavours and scents. This is an excellent option for a quick snack that can also serve as a standalone meal. Quick, easy, comforting and energetic.
5. Roman style pizza – you know you want to
Rome has its own pizza tradition, somewhat different from the Neapolitan one. In this instance, however, we are not talking about the traditional round pizza you would order in a pizzeria, but about the variety that is referred to specifically as pizza romana or focaccia romana. Typically sold in fast-food establishment, it is prepared in large slabs with different toppings, that are then divided into small squares to be sold individually and eaten on the go. This is the typical takeaway food for a night in in Rome or the quick lunch or mid-morning snack that one would consume while walking to work or during a short break. The biggest advantage of this kind of pizza is variety. Because it is served in small portions, you don’t have to choose one topping: you can have all of them! It is incredibly easy to set up a pizza food truck at your corporate venue, and the toppings can be prepared in advance.