Eat in the street. A habit that in Calabria, as in most of Italy, was born long before the phenomenon of street food. But in recent years it has been evolving in an interesting way thanks to increasingly trained artisans, willing to put themselves at the service of the well-known heritage of ingredients and traditions and to add those little cares that make the difference.
This is the case of Mi ‘Ndujo, which, with a well-constructed format, has given prestige to its “paninazzo sanizzo” by taking it to Rome, as well as to the Rende and Cosenza stores. A classic fast food counter that bets on express preparations and local raw materials, including the flours with which the house bread is prepared. The fillings are very rich and delicious: chorizo, caciocavallo, nduja and potatoes; chicken, smoked provola, bacon, egg and friggitelli, just to give you an idea. Craft beer is noticeable, as is the choice not to use plastic for packaging. More rustic, in terms of supply and location, is Zio Tomas, a kiosk along the road that leads from San Giovanni in Fiore to Lake Lorica, considered a must-see for anyone who wants to make a pleasant trip to the mountains of Sila. The sausage sandwich is unmissable, cooked to perfection and accompanied by Silano (smoked spun cheese) and vegetables or mushrooms in oil. As an alternative, beef or pork and some good fries.
La Contadina, on the other hand, is a delicatessen which is located in Camigliatello Silano, one of the main mountain resorts. The salami and cheese bar has the best of this land: black pork ham, soppressata, longaniza, exquisite capocollo; among dairy products, there is a large space for stretched curd with a special mention for morsels preserved in cream. Wide range of pickles that completes the proposal with which to prepare a sandwich, even better if it is made with two slices of homemade bread (in the store there are also five kg forms!). Always in Camigliatello, advancing along the road that leads to Lake Cecita, street food bears the signature of the Lecce family, one of the most important restaurants and hotels in Calabria.
The very young Emanuele, a promise that has been fulfilled for a long time, guides the gourmet kitchen of the Tavernetta but from June to October La Sosta is also active, a kiosk that offers quick and affordable solutions, ideal for a picnic in the countryside. The meats are all from local livestock: the Podolica beef for the breast and for the hamburgers accompanied by bacon and pickles, the black pork for the smoked ribs and for the sandwich with chorizo, caciocavallo and potato croquette. The vegetarian proposal is also excellent, in which local vegetables are flavored with candied ginger and wasabi mayonnaise. A separate discussion for the fries, just amazing.
A prestigious firm is also that of Roberto Davanzo, the Bob di Alchimia in Spicchi, a highly decorated pizzeria in Montepaone (Ionian coast south of Catanzaro) where it is absolutely forbidden to use cutlery. A true magician of the dough and the kitchen, as well as a passionate researcher willing to put unthinkable ingredients on the pizza. Here are also some examples, but the rotation of the proposals is quite frequent so it is not certain that you will find them: Rabbit (rabbit meat, fermented carrots, mozzarella and orange mustard); Boma (porcini fermented with milk, mozzarella, blue kid, truffle, caramel from the fermentation water). Also try the steamed pizzelle, the “falling” pizzas, crispier thanks to double cooking (first in the wood-fired oven, then in the electric one) and the sweet pizzas, including the truly sublime one with ricotta cream, gel and coulis of bergamot, liquorice, toasted almonds and mint. With the arrival of Covid at Bob’s, a “drive through” system was thought of and that is why we can also talk about it in a street food context. Bob Drive service is currently suspended, but will resume after the summer.
Always active, in addition to high level., another Davanzo idea, original from the name: Bestie – Wild Calabrians. The protagonists change, in this case it is about sandwiches, the philosophy carried out by a group of young people who make the different types of bread and traditional Calabrian recipes interpreted with great attention to low-temperature cooking remains unchanged. Try the ciabatta with the tiana (goat stew) with peas cream and fried artichokes, the bun with peppers and potatoes, the Pankobbestia (with battered and fried chicken, fermented cabbage, sweet and sour sauce with chilli and caciocavallo di Ciminà slices), Make a Sacrifice (with frayed lamb, aubergine cream, pecorino d’Aspromonte, anchovy oil and mint).
The “big name” street food continues a little further south. In Soverato, the Pearl of the Ionian Sea, starring Luca Abbruzzino, has recently opened Brezza fish & chill, a modern concept of fish specialties that doesn’t matter to take away, ideal to enjoy the sunset by the sea. Some proposals among the most suitable to take away: oil sandwich with tuna tartar with bergamot cream, tomato, stracciatella and basil; wholemeal ciabatta with low-temperature cod, chickpea mayonnaise, chicory and cedar pesto with chili; Calabrian lobster roll, with steamed lobster, coral emulsion and nduja, potato salad and Tropea onion. The fried foods are also good, the desserts that include bread, oil and sugar are delicious, a simpler version of an iconic chef’s dish. Abbruzzino himself signs, together with Michele Intrieri, who is in charge of the dough, the blades of Kalavrì, a pizzeria on the seafront of Catanzaro Lido. Fairly soft dough with optimal yeast that adapts well to classic and original fillings. Among the latter, the one that bears the name of the place (yellow tomato, fiordilatte, ‘nduja, orange zest and basil), the Trupiana (with raw buffalo mozzarella, tuna and sweet and sour onion, both homemade) reserve particular satisfactions. , the Zuccapragna (with fiordilatte, pumpkin, blue goat cheese, chestnuts, black pepper and rosemary).
In recent years, pan pizza has been gaining more and more space. The best addresses mainly follow the Roman school and reserve certain satisfactions for themselves. Not to be missed is Pizzamore, a place in Acri, a town at the foot of the Sila where Antonio Oliva offers his signature pizzas with very long yeasts and particularly careful chromatic aspects. Excellent fish specialties such as pizza with escarole and clams, cream of peas, potatoes and monkfish or Catalan-style octopus. Still in the province of Cosenza, but heading towards the Ionian coast, precisely in Corigliano Calabro, we find Daniele Campana’s pizzeria that uses only stone-ground flour for its dough, which is left to mature for more than twenty-four hours at a controlled temperature. The crunchy base accommodates condiments that vary with the seasons but whose fixed point is the enhancement of local gastronomic crafts. Simple recipes like the Rossa and Patate della Sila and the caciocavallo are flanked by more elaborate ones like the typically spring one with strawberries, elderflower infusion, stracciatella, mozzarella, ‘nduja and dried ricotta. Another notable address is Golosone di Catanzaro, a very small place where Mirko Cicco continually produces new trays to guarantee customers the correct assortment. You breathe the Capitoline air with the vigorous interpretation of the pizza with the “mortazza”, you go home with the onion and the tuna belly as well as with the stracciatella and the cooked black pork ham.
In Catanzaro we also find one of the emblematic dishes of the Calabrian tradition, the morzello. It is a preparation based on tripe and other viscera (each family has its own recipe) cooked for a long time in a tomato sauce enriched with chilli (also in this case the quantities vary from house to house, but always beyond the level of guard ). !). How can such a succulent dish become street food? Simple, get help from pitta. It is the typical bread of Catanzaro, in the shape of a donut, with a thin crust and a very soft consistency. A kind of cake ready to absorb the dips, becoming one with the garnish. In the historic center of the capital there are still some putiches that prepare morzello. Among them is the Salvatore Talarico trattoria, which offers a recipe based on tripe, centopelli, heart and lung served with a sauce that is not very thick but no less tasty.
Another preparation of ancient origin but now almost impossible to find is lestopitta, a specialty of the Greek area, therefore from the extreme south. The etymology of the word is of clear Greek derivation: leptos means thin, pitta, as we have learned in the case from morzello, means bread. And indeed, lestopitta is a thin disk of dough made with water, flour, and oil that is quickly cooked in a pan before being used as an accompaniment to meats, cheeses, and traditional local dishes. To enjoy it, the advice is to get to Bova, a beautiful town where Greek is still spoken and the Hellenic language is the protagonist of road signs. After a long walk through the alleys of the village, the best place to have something to eat is Mimmo, a small restaurant with a terrace that only offers lestopitta. Do not miss the one with peppers and potatoes as well as the capocollo, pecorino cheese and dried tomato filling.
We continue in Magna Graecia moving to Crotone, the ancient Kroton, land of Pythagoras and Milone.. Here, street food is synonymous with “calzone vrusciente,” a disk of pizza dough folded into a crescent shape after being drizzled with a concentrated spicy tomato and mozzarella sauce. Fried in boiling oil, it should be eaten “vrusciente” which is burning, also thanks to the chilli pepper. In the city, everyone does it a little, but the fact that there is always a very long queue in front of the Romana gives a fairly clear idea of which is the best place to taste it.
The fried ones are also the protagonists of our last stop, Cosenza. In the historic center we find Sasà, famous for its “cuddruriaddri”, pizza dough donuts, and for panzerotti, the local answer to the Croton calzone (but without chili). To try meatballs in a thousand different variants, it is best to move from Siamo Fritti, a short distance from the motorway junction. Each ingredient, here, becomes a meatball: chorizo, meat, rice, potatoes, and then anchovies and aubergines, artichokes and prawns, cod and cauliflower, tuna and onion. Also try the fried fish: anchovies, prawns, squid, fish and chips and seafood schnitzel.
Our journey to Calabrian street food ends, with many stops suggested, as well as many forgotten. But the beauty of eating on the street is also that: discovering new places to be able to tell.