Supplì is a rustic dish that is characteristic of Roman cuisine and is presented on our tables as a crunchy, elongated, cylindrical fried meatball, usually made with boiled rice, tomato, minced meat and pecorino cheese. These tasty croquettes are ideal as an appetiser, in a buffet or as an aperitif, but those with a sweet tooth will also enjoy them on their own to savour every bite.
At Pizzeria Fra Diavolo you can start your meal with delicious and fragrant Roman-style supplì filled with meat and fiordilatte di Agerola cheese.
From Milan to Rome, from Bologna to Turin, up to Novara, Genoa, Cuneo: we are present in the biggest Italian cities, right next to you! Come and visit us and share them with whoever you want, while you wait to indulge in a contemporary pizza: in the meantime, we look forward to telling you all you need to know about supplì!
When and where the supplì was born in Italy
Rice supplì is a culinary speciality with a very ancient history and can be considered as the real ancestors of our street food.
The most plausible hypothesis, also from an etymological point of view, links the origin of supplì with the arrival of Napoleon's French troops in Rome in 1809.
These troops, a few years earlier, occupied the Kingdom of Naples, where the contamination with the culinary traditions of the Kingdom of Sicily took place, which included the use of rice in the recipes, an ingredient introduced to Italy by the Arabs.
The first written evidence of supplì
The first written record of a supplì on a menu dates back to the 19th century when this dish appeared on the menu of the Trattoria della Lepre in Rome under the name soplis di riso. A second hypothesis concerning the first written recipe for supplì dates from a few years later, in 1929, when the book La cucina romana by the gastronome Ada Boni was published. The word supplì appears in her book, and it is defined as a kind of:
croquette obtained by cooking rice in a little stew sauce or, if that is not available, in a mock sauce, then topped with butter, grated Parmesan cheese and a couple of whole eggs beaten as for an omelette [...]. Finally, cover with breadcrumbs and fry immediately them, blond and crispy.Ada Boni in La cucina romana
The supplìs described by Ada Boni are very close to the fried recipe we all traditionally know, although their heart of stringy cheese is not yet made of mozzarella or fiordilatte and there is still the use of chicken giblets, an ingredient which is now practically in disuse. Lastly, historical evidence has it that James Joyce recalled in a 1927 interview a previous stay in Italy, referring to an exuberant supplittaro who walked through the streets of Rome with a steaming cauldron of oil!
Rice supplì or arancino? Not just a question of form...
Let's get this straight! The main difference between supplì and arancini lies in the shape, place of origin and ingredients used.
Supplì is a typical dish from Lazio and looks like an elongated, cylindrical meatball with boiled rice, topped with meat sauce and mozzarella; arancini, on the other hand, are typical of Sicily and have a spherical or conical shape: they can be dressed in various ways with ham, pesto, vegetables and much more.
Another significant difference lies in their breading: whereas batter is used for arancini, rice supplìs are dipped in raw eggs so that the breadcrumbs linger before frying. Finally, Roman supplìs can also be baked, for a lighter dish that retains its unmistakable taste!
The most popular variant: supplì al telefono
Traditionally, Roman-style supplìs were served hot directly on the street, with street vendors walking the city streets with cauldrons full of oil to prepare them on the spot.
One of the best-known variations of the supplì, which has since spread throughout Italy, involves the use of cheese: in the recipe from Lazio, in fact, it is customary to use a strip of stringy mozzarella cheese that goes from one end of the croquette to the other, which is then dipped in breadcrumbs, fried in hot oil and finally left to cool. It is the unmistakable on the phone rice supplì (supplì al telefono)!
Why is it called "supplì al telefono"?
We have already talked about the supplì's links to French culture. Although this dish is one of the symbols of Roman cuisine, the term supplì comes from the Italianisation of the word surprise, read with a French pronunciation [surprìs]. The surprise is the heart of stringy cheese inside, which the soldiers across the Alps loved to taste during their Napoleonic occupation. Tradition has it, however, that the full wording of this Italian street food is supplì al telefono.
The supplì al telefono owes its original name to the fact that the mozzarella chunks in the filling melt during cooking and hold the two halves of the fried food together, just like a telephone wire. Just bite them to believe!
Which rice to choose for a supplì?
The original Roman recipe for supplì al telefono calls for the ideal use of carnaroli rice, which holds up well during cooking, although there are also local variations using vialone nano rice, which has a rounder grain and is more absorbent of the sauce. But what makes supplì a very quick dish to prepare and a particularly versatile one is that you can also use leftover rice as an ingredient. From tomato risotto to meat sauce risotto, from rice with spinach to rice with pumpkin or vegetables: unleash your creativity and learn how to transform a tasty first course into a crispy rice ball with a stringy heart!
How to make a good Roman-style supplì: frying
The secret of a good supplì lies in its frying and breading, which must be firmly golden and crispy! This involves two different methods of preparation:
- the recipe entails flouring the supplis in breadcrumbs, then dipping them in beaten egg and finally dipping them in breadcrumbs;
- the second recipe, which is more common, uses only breadcrumbs. If the bread is finely grated, it will be less likely that the taste of the oil will be felt inside the rice ball.
The supplì al telefono should preferably be fried in plenty of hot oil at 180°C, preferably peanut or extra virgin olive oil. And not only that! Your croquettes should never stay in the fryer for too long, otherwise they will darken too much on their surface; if they are immersed in oil for a short time, it will be difficult to achieve the unmistakable effect of an "on the phone" stringy mozzarella.
Nutritional values and calories of a supplì
Given the widespread consumption of supplì, which has conquered Italians and foreigners alike with its unquestionable crunchiness, a 2009 scientific study supported by the CREA wanted to establish the energy value, macronutrient composition and calories of a supplì.
An average supplì weighs 80-110 g and a single 100 g portion contains about 241 kcal. This Roman speciality is particularly rich in carbohydrates, thanks to its main ingredient: rice.
For this reason, eating two supplì al telefono can be enough to satisfy the caloric needs of a single meal, thanks to the completeness in macronutrients of this dish! The nutritional values of a supplì are detailed below:
- water 51.2 g
- protein 6.3 g
- lipids 10.6 g
- sugars 2.6 g
- starch 26.5 g
- fibre 1.1 g
OK, the starter is served... and the pizza?
Now that you know all about supplì and your delicious fried appetiser is served, all that's left to do is enjoy the main course! At Fra Diavolo you can enjoy a real contemporary Neapolitan-style pizza with a high rim, giving you the choice of the dough you want.
High-quality ingredients, a vibrant atmosphere and a seasonal menu with gourmet experiments: why not book a table?