Supplì: king of street food in Rome

A deep-fried rice ball, known as the supplì, is Rome's quintessential street food.

Popular as a starter before pizza or as a satisfying street food snack, supplì are a staple of Roman cuisine. 

This deep-fried rice ball - not to be confused with Sicilian arancini - is cooked with tomato ragù, coated with bread crumbs and contains a mozzarella heart. Supplì are served in pizzerie, tavole calde and pizze al taglio across Rome.

According to legend the supplì had humble beginnings, starting off in the early 19th century as a poor-man's dish, with chicken giblets used before being replaced by ragù.

Supplì were originally served on the street and it wasn't until 1870 that the Trattoria della Lepre on Via dei Condotti began serving the fried rice ball to its customers.

The first printed recipe for supplì was published in 1929 in La cucina Romana by Ada Boni.

The mozzarella filling was not added until the mid-20th century. This melted cheese addition led to the nickname supplì al telefono due to the "telephone cable" connecting the two halves when the supplì is broken in two.

These days there is a growing variety of gourmet fillings to choose from as well as recipes based on Roman classic dishes such as cacio e pepe.

Some of the best places in Rome to eat supplì include Gabriele Bonci's Pizzarium in Cipro, Gatta Mangiona in Monteverde, Sforno in Cinecittà and Supplizio with locations in the historic centre and Trastevere.