Italian Street Food

Photo Aug 04, 8 07 06 PM.jpg MORTADELLA SANDWICH

(Click PHOTO to enlarge and then back arrow to return to original size).

Hi everyone, 

This post is dedicated to my grandmother. You all know by now how much I adored her and she would have turned 113 years old this month. So “Happy Birthday” in Heaven grandma. I will always miss you and love you. 

 I was recently sharing a memory of my grandmother with a friend. I have so many wonderful memories of her. Grandma is always on my mind but today I was telling a friend what a wonderful cook she was and how much fun we had when she would visit for the weekend.

When grandma visited, “everything” involved food.

On Friday nights she would make zeppoles and calzones for a snack.

The zeppoles are fried balls of dough covered in powdered sugar. I am sure you have seen them if you have ever been to an Italian Feast, (probably near the sausage and peppers). At the feast, the vendors put them in a paper bag with powdered sugar, shake them up and you are on your way with this greasy bag of goodness. Of course you always need extra powdered sugar.

IMG_4883.JPG ZEPPOLES.jpg for blog

The calzone are oven baked folded pizza dough that is filled with Italian ham, mozzarella, grated cheese and rich creamy ricotta. Absolutely delicious. There are other variations with tomatoes, anchovies and olives but grandma stuck to the original recipe from Naples, Italy.

1033249144001_4388224590001_video-still-for-video-4377529155001.jpg CALZONE 2.jpg- for BLOG

But on Saturday, I would ask my grandmother to make her mortadella sandwiches in focaccia bread for lunch.

Before we go any further, ALWAYS buy imported mortadella—enough said.

Mortadella is compared to bologna, but it really isn’t the same. I copied a definition from one of the Italian websites ( to give you a clearer understanding.

“While bologna is made with pork scraps, or even chicken, turkey and beef, mortadella is only made from very finely minced high quality pork and cubes of fat “sprinkled” inside. Shelled pistachios and black pepper grains are then added to the mixture which is stuffed into a casing and cooked in brick ovens. In substance, mortadella is a giant sausage- up to 200 pounds!- slowly cooked and then sliced to serve”

Here is a photo of mortadella with the pistachios and black pepper.

564a034bd6306a1e4c30e373daa4d616.jpg mortadella.jpg III for BLOG

Mortadella-lavorazione-4.jpg - MORTADELLA PROCESS.jpg - for BLOG

 In Rome there is a famous sandwich called “Pizza co’ la mortazza”,  it is a classic Roman street food snack. Pizza bianca, a local flatbread, is cut open and filled with a few thin slices of mortadella, no mayo, just mortadella. The sandwich is best when the pizza is straight out of the oven and the mortadella melts into the steaming bread.

focacciamortadella1.jpg foccacia with mortadella.jpg FOR BLOG

My grandmother went one step further and made her own foccacia bread with rosemary and olives instead of pizza bianca, sliced and filled with a few slices of mortadella. 

As a rule, Italians do not over-stuff their sandwiches with cold cuts and cured meat. My grandmother would have been shocked if she could see the overflowing cold cut sandwiches that come out of deli’s today.

This mortadella sandwich was one of my favorites growing up, so today I am going to pay tribute to grandma and make my version of “Pizza co’ la mortazza”.

My grandmother is from Bari, in the Puglia region of Italy.  In the Barese version of focaccia there is always a mashed potato in the dough.

I didn’t have grandma’s recipe for her focaccia, so I had to look up various foccacia recipes until I found a Barese version on a great website, “Italian Food Forever”. 

The recipe below is for the basic Foccacia Barese. I did not use all the toppings in the recipe, I made the foccacia with the toppings my grandmother used, olives, rosemary and sea salt.


Adapted from website Italian Food Forever by Deborah Mele


fococciabarese5.jpg BARESE FOCCACIA II.jpg FOR BLOG



  • 3 Cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 Medium Potato, Peeled, Boiled & Mashed
  • 1 Tablespoon Rapid Rise Yeast
  • 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Luke Warm Water


  • 1 Cup Halved Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1/3 Cup Pitted Olives (Optional)
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Coarse Sea Salt


  1. In a large bowl mix together the flour, yeast, potatoes, oil, and salt, then add just enough warm water to create a dough.
  2. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 to 7 minutes, or until smooth and shiny.
  3. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
  4. Place the bowl in a warm spot in the kitchen, and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  6. Lightly oil a 14 inch round baking pan and press the dough in to fit.
  7. Press your fingertips over the top of the dough to create dimples.
  8. Place the olives and tomatoes over the dough, then sprinkle with the oregano and coarse salt.
  9. Drizzle with olive oil, let rest for 30 minutes, then bake until golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  10. Cool to room temperature before slicing.


Here is my version of grandma’s Barese Foccacia with mortadella.

A Roman recipe with a Barese touch.

 I know she would be proud of me for recreating one of her special dishes.

Memories of grandma!

Thee foccacia is ready for the oven…

Photo Aug 04, 6 41 46 PM.jpg - READY FOR THE OVEN

Not bad for the first try…

Photo Aug 04, 7 54 10 PM.jpg FOCCACIA OUT OF THE OVEN

I can’t wait to try a slice; brings back memories…

Photo Aug 04, 7 57 49 PM.jpg SLICE

I know that Grandma would be proud…

Photo Aug 04, 8 07 06 PM.jpg MORTADELLA SANDWICH

Photo Aug 04, 8 06 56 PM.jpg FOCCACIA END


Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,


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8 thoughts on “Italian Street Food

  1. Barbara F.

    Such wonderful memories, Diane. I love all these foods, unfortunately. I grew up with homemade pizza, calzone, etc. I am not Barese but have Barese friends. I enjoy a stuffed turnover they make at Christmas called panzarotti, filled with sauteed onions. So Good. Thanks for sharing. I love a proud Italian-American woman like me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Linda

    Diane Your dedication to family memories and food is amazing. My family being Irish and German it was always meat and potatoes. Although my Dad was a better cook than my mother. One dish my Dad use to make was Sauerkraut, potatoes and ribs baked in the oven. It was yummy. I have tried to duplicate it over the years, but it just didn’t taste the same. My grandmother made red cabbage that was out of this world. It wasn’t tart or sour. I have tried that too. Not much success. If only I had thought back then to ask for the recipe or even watched Dad and my grandmother make these dishes. I would have success. Again Diane thank you so much for your blog, family memories and recipes! I have made quite a collection from you. Thank you for all your celebrations! Linda

    Liked by 1 person

    1. aries041158 Post author

      Thank you Linda. I am sorry I didn’t ask for the recipes back then either. I watched my grandmother and my mom cook a lot but they never wrote anything down except one or two Christmas cookies. I search old Italian cookbooks for some familiar recipes. I am writing all my recipes down for Michael….I am so glad that you enjoy reading the blog and use the recipes.


  3. Jeanne e

    That was so beautiful , diane — special, warm memories of Jennie &her delicious foods – you certainly duplicated the recipes perfectly – I’m sure you enjoyed the outcomes -‘ thanks for sharing them –
    Xx jeanne

    Liked by 1 person


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