Italian Small Bites

As a snack or an appetizer with wine, there’s nothing quite as light, restorative, and fun as a sampling of Italian small bites. Mix and match these recipes — plates of grilled polenta, stuffed zucchini and cherry peppers, sweet and sour sardines, and more — serving one or two for a casual get-together with a friend, or a whole spread for a crowd.

Montasio Cheese Crisps

Lidia Bastianich, who owns New York’s Felidia and operates a restaurant, called Frico, with her son, grew up eating this irresistible fried-cheese snack in her hometown of Pula, Croatia (once part of Italy).

Frico may be stuffed with a variety of fillings. When making this simple version, we added a little flour to help the frico hold its shape. Click here for the recipe. 

Cozze al Pomodoro (Stuffed Mussels)

Thyme and white wine bring out the sweet flavor of mussels in these popular cicheti. This recipe first appeared in our March 2012 issue, with Dana Bowen’s story ‘Good and Plenty’. Click here for the recipe. 

Gamberi al Rosmarino (Shrimp with Pancetta and Rosemary)

Serve these garlicky shrimp with lots of crusty bread. This recipe first appeared in our March 2012 issue, with Dana Bowen’s story Good and Plenty. Click here for the recipe. 

Tramezzini (Venetian Tea Sandwiches)

Our favorite fillings for Venetian tea sandwiches are asparagus and eggs, tuna and olives, and arugula with cured beef. This recipe first appeared in our March 2012 issue, with Dana Bowen’s story Good and Plenty. Click here for the recipe. 

Sarde in Saor (Sweet and Sour Sardines)

These sumptuous cicheti are traditionally made with fried sardines, but they’re just as delicious when the fish are broiled. This recipe first appeared in our March 2012 issue, with Dana Bowen’s story Good and Plenty. Click here for the recipe. 

Polpette (Meat Croquettes)

Made with ground veal and potatoes, these are a classic Venetian cicheti. This recipe first appeared in our March 2012 issue, with Dana Bowen’s story Good and Plenty. Click here for the recipe. 

Fondi di Carciofi (Bacon-Wrapped Artichokes)

These artichoke hearts wrapped in bacon were inspired by cicheti served at Hosteria Vite Rossa in Venice’s Mestre area. This recipe first appeared in our March 2012 issue, with Dana Bowen’s story Good and Plenty. Click here for the recipe.

Cappesante al Forno (Baked Scallops with Parmesan)

Sea scallops on the half shell are seasoned with herbs and a dusting of Parmesan in this classic Venetian chicheti. This recipe first appeared in our March 2012 issue, with Dana Bowen’s story Good and Plenty. Click here for the recipe. 

Baccalà Mantecato (Grilled Polenta with Dried Cod Mousse)

This creamy codfish mousse is delicious served with char-grilled squares of polenta. This recipe first appeared in our March 2012 issue, with Dana Bowen’s story Good and Plenty. Click here for the recipe. 

Marinated Sardine Crostini with Salsa Verde and Fennel

Chef Tony Mantuano, of Chicago’s Spiaggia, combines the tangy flavors of tarragon and chive salsa verde with a zesty lemon and fennel salad in this marinated sardine crostini. Click here for the recipe. 

Eggplant Caponata

This classic sweet and sour eggplant dish is rich and sweetened with caramelized onions and raisins. This recipe appeared in our March 2011 issue as a part of our special feature, Soul of Sicily. Click here for the recipe. 

Mortadella Smear

Father-and-son team Jimmy Bannos Sr. and Jr. of Chicago’s Purple Pig restaurant purée mortadella, an Italian bologna, and slather it on toast with balsamic vinegar and pistachios, a combination that is devastatingly addictive. Click here for the recipe.  Mortadella Smears

Fritto Misto (Fried Squid, Fish and Shrimp)

David Pasternack, the chef at the New York City restaurant Esca, uses a combination of olive oil and canola oil to make this classic Italian dish. Click here for the recipe. 

Sweet and Sour Onions (Cipolline in Agrodolce)

This dish is beloved in Rome, where it pairs naturally with roasted meats like porchetta. Click here for the recipe. cipolline in agrodolce

Angeli Caffe’s Focaccia

Evan Kleiman, the chef and owner of Angeli Caffe (see Family Style) in Los Angeles, gave us this recipe for Italian flat bread, which she tops with ‘nduja, a spreadable Italian cured meat.

You can buy ‘nduja from the San Francisco-based pork store, Boccalone. Click here for the recipe.

Chicken Liver Crostini

A version of this recipe appears in Flavors of Tuscany (Broadway Books, 1998) by Nancy Harmon Jenkins. Click here for the recipe. 

Italian Stuffed Clams

Foriana sauce makes a great alternative for the bread crumb stuffing often used on baked or broiled clams. Click here for the recipe. 

Shrimp with Spicy Garlic and Tomato Sauce

Vigliacca can mean scoundrel which in the case of a sauce means that it’s spiced with chile peppers. This concoction has been served at Trattoria Garga since their 1979 opening.

The owners like it atop everything from pasta to meat loaf. Click here for the recipe. 

Stuffed and Fried Squash Blossoms

Zucchini and other squash blossoms are fried all over Italy—stuffed or not—but this recipe came from a restaurant in Castel Gandolfo, near Rome. Click here for the recipe. 

4 thoughts on “Italian Small Bites

  1. Pingback: Spaghetti with mussels, lemon and cherry tomato. Spaghetti con cozze, limone e pomodorini. | Chocolate Spoon & The Camera

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