Risotto dumplings threaten hegemony of rice dumplings in bars and restaurants in SP

Risotto dumplings threaten hegemony of rice dumplings in bars and restaurants in SP

In Italian, arancino means orange — and arancini is its plural. But people from São Paulo are already used to seeing this word on the menus of bars and restaurants, in the form of a breaded cake, popular as a starter or snack, and which has nothing to do with fruit.

A typical recipe from Sicily, an island in the south of Italy, where it emerged as a street food, arancino has as its main ingredient risotto rice, which turns very yellow with the addition of saffron pistils — hence the name.

The stuffing varies. It could be some sort of ragu with peas and cheese, or just little cubes of ham and mozzarella. The format changes according to the region, and ranges from round cakes from Palermo, the capital of Sicily, which look more like oranges, to the little dots from the port city of Catania, which are very reminiscent of the shape of our coxinhas.

There are those who see in arancino the same origin of our famous rice cake: the reuse of leftovers. “Italian cuisine uses recycling a lot, because one of the rules is not to waste it. Did you make risotto and have a little left over? Make arancino”, says Italian Gerardo Landulfo, delegate at the Accademia Italiana della Cucina in São Paulo.

But the assumption is not unanimous. Master in Italian Food Culture and author of the Rome Sweet Rome website, Leticia Rocha lived in the capital of Italy and questions this idea. “The daily life of Italians does not involve leftovers. Everyone has scales and calculates the exact weight of pasta or risotto per person. Food is not frozen, nobody has Tupperware in the fridge.”

Another Italian dumpling that has made its appearance in São Paulo, although less frequently, is supplì al telefono.

The recipe, typical of Rome, does not allow for as many variations as the arancino. The pasta must be risotto rice, cooked in tomato or meat broth, but only one type of filling is valid: fresh mozzarella. When split in half, the dumpling (which has a long shape, like our croquettes) exposes the long thread of melted mozzarella, like the thread of old telephones.

In São Paulo, there is arancino and supplì al telefono of all shapes, sizes and flavors. As usual, the man from São Paulo appropriated the recipes and unceremoniously mixed them up.

At Dhomus, the dumpling that chef Leonardo Russi serves as a supplì has no filling, but has a portion of tuna tartar and olive cream on top.

When you enter arancini territory, then, creativity goes a long way — the flavor of the risotto and the filling change at will, as well as the sauces served as accompaniments.

The same does not happen with the portions of Brazilian style rice balls. A mandatory presence on pub menus, it almost always appears in the classic version: just rice, wheat flour, grated cheese and seasonings.

It is a tradition that goes back a long way. In the cookbook “Dona Benta” (Companhia Editora Nacional), originally released in 1940, you choose between the simple rice cake, seasoned with parsley, or the special rice cake, which has cubes of mozzarella mixed with the dough.

Authors of “A Culinária Caipira da Paulistânia” (Fósforo), Carlos Alberto Dória and Marcelo Corrêa Bastos still cite a half-forgotten way of making rice balls: after being cooked, the grains are passed through a grinding machine, which generates a texture creamy, like croquette.

For those who want to compare different recipes, the itinerary below is a full plate — it has Brazilian rice balls, arancino and supplì of all kinds and with various accents.

Mooca’s Pizza

The pizzeria prepares the traditional supplì al telefono, cooked in tomato sauce and stuffed with mozzarella (R$14 each).
R. da Mooca, 1747, Mooca, eastern region. apizzadamooca.com.br


This joint grocery store and restaurant delivers a portion of arboreal rice balls with shrimp bisque, cheese and caramelized shrimp. It costs R$37 with five units.
R. Rego Freitas, 428, Vila Buarque, central region. ameliamercearia.com.br


The restaurant that occupies the former home of Cacilda Becker serves a portion of biro-biro rice croquettes with tangerine mayonnaise. It costs R$36.80 with five units.
R. Pais de Araújo, 138, Itaim Bibi, west region. Instagram @atto.restaurante

bistro venuto

The restaurant’s cuisine is French, but the menu also features arancini with funghi and buffalo mozzarella (R$31 for six units).
R. Peixoto Gomide, 1658, Jardim Paulista, west region. Instagram @bistrotvenuto


Mixed drinks bar and restaurant, prepares rice balls with leeks and goat cheese. It costs R$42 with six units.
R. Pedroso Alvarenga, 1135, Itaim Bibi, west region. espalheoboato.com.br


Vegan tomato arancini with spicy tomato jam (R$40 with seven pieces).
R. João Moura, 976, Pinheiros, west region. Instagram @bosco.restaurante

san antonio house

Casa’s arancini change flavors every week; one of the options is the funghi with truffled mayonnaise (R$ 41 with six units).
Av. João Carlos da Silva Borges, 764, Granja Julieta, west region. casantoantonio.com

Des Cucina

Arancini stuffed with Minas Padrão cheese and truffle oil (R$53 with six pieces)
R. Desembargador do Vale, 233, Perdizes, west region. descucina.com.br


Arancini stuffed with mozzarella and dried tomatoes (R$49 with five pieces)
R. Princesa Isabel, 953, Campo Belo, south region. maremonti.com.br


Oxtail arancini with wasabi mayonnaise (R$ 27 with four units)
R. Simão Álvares, 985, Pinheiros, west region. motique.com.br

The Brazeiro

Traditional rice cake (R$ 44 with ten units)
R. Luís Góis, 843, Vila Mariana, south region. obrazeiro.com.br

piccini bar

Arancini all’amatriciana stuffed with pancetta ragu and pecorino sauce (R$38, five pieces)
R. Dr. Renato Paes de Barros, 177, Itaim Bibi, west region. Instagram @piccinibar


The portion of mushroom risotto dumpling, Grana Padano cheese and Cuesta cheese, from Pardinho, is exclusive for delivery (R$ 20 with four units)
R. Mourato Coelho, 1447, Vila Madalena, west region. Instagram @quincho.sp

Tappo Trattoria

The restaurant has a portion of cheese arancini (R$39 with four units)
R. Pará, 36, 2nd floor, Higienópolis, central region. Instagram @tappotrattoria

Trinca Bar & Vermuteria

Supplì al telefono with cheese from Serra da Canastra and tomato with aïoli (R$34 with three pieces)
R. Costa Carvalho, 96, Pinheiros, west region. Instagram @trincabar

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