These Suppli al Telefono are made with a simple sauce, rice and fresh mozzarella. Best known as a rustic Roman street food, crunchy on the outside with melted mozzarella on the inside. So good one won’t be enough!
When I first came to Italy, I was introduced to a Suppli when having pizza with friends, you can’t have pizza without a one I was informed. Well I soon discovered I could certainly have it without a slice of pizza! Since these delicious rice balls are also sold in every forno (bread bakery) in Lazio, I would volunteer to pick up the bread. Yup that delicious Suppli would last exactly the 4-5 minute drive back home would take.
How to make them?
In a medium/large frying pan add the olive oil, garlic and puree, cook for approximately 10 minutes, then remove the garlic.
Add the rice stir and cook for 1 minute. Add the hot broth a little at a time, stirring often until the rice is cooked. The mixture should not be liquidy but it should be creamy.
Stir in the parmesan cheese. Move the mixture to a clean bowl and let cool completely.
Into the palm of your hand measure out approximately 1 1/2 heaping tablespoon of the rice mixture (you can make them smaller if you wish), in the middle place a stick of cut mozzarella, mold into a oblong shape, making sure that the mozzarella is completely covered. Set aside on a clean plate until all the Suppli are formed.
In a small bowl beat an egg, and place the bread crumbs in a plate, first roll the suppli in the egg (coating well) and then in the bread crumbs (well coated).
In a medium pot heat the vegetable oil until it reaches the correct temperature. Fry them a couple at a time turning a few times until golden brown, make sure to keep the oil as close to 350F as possible or the Suppli will cook too quickly and the mozzarella will not become soft and stringy. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on plate covered with paper towels. Serve immediately.
I don’t know how many of you know what Suppli is but I bet if I said Arancini or Rice Balls then you would have an idea. Well they are almost the same thing, but I am sure if I said that to a Roman or Sicilian I would definitely get an ear full.
So what is the difference between Suppli and Arancini?
Arancini are usually round or tear drop shaped made with rice and usually includes meat, peas sometimes pistachios, actually there are a larger variety of Arancini than Suppli. Whereas Suppli are oblong, made with a simple tomato sauce and rice, in the middle a piece of mozzarella is placed. They must be eaten very hot, the name Suppli al Telefono (telephone) comes when you break it in half and the mozzarella pulls apart like a line which still connects the two parts making it look like a telephone line. Both are breaded and fried.
I have tried both but for me hands down the winner is Suppli. I remember the first time I tried making these was more than 20 years ago. My Mom came for her first visit and we decided to give them a go. What a disaster that was, remember this was before computers, and my Italian was at the most minimal. The recipe called for 2 tablespoons of oil and I translated it to cups, haha we had Suppli under oil.
Even Google translate would have done better than me. But now, times have changed, and unfortunately my Mom can’t help with the new recipe. Even my Italian has gone from less than minimal to minimal! ;).
Can they be made in the oven?
Yes they can be baked, place the breaded suppli on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, drizzle with a little olive oil and bake in a pre-heated 350F (180C) oven for approximately 20-30 minutes. Serve immediately.
How to store it
They are definitely best when just made although you can keep leftovers wrapped in plastic and stored in the fridge for up to 2-3 days, be sure to re-heat them either in a microwave or on a cookie sheet in a low oven until heated through.
More Delicious Appetizers
Easy Double Cheese Mozzarella Balls
So the next time you decide to make Pizza, why not do as the Romans and make some Suppli al Telefono. Buon Appetito!
Suppli al Telefono
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic (whole)
- tomato puree (200 grams)
- 3/4 cup arborio rice (uncooked) (150 grams)
- 3-4 cups vegetable broth* (705-940 grams)
- 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon salt*
- 1-2 dashes black pepper
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 small fresh mozzarella (sliced into thick strips)
*Depending on how salty your broth is a pinch or two might be all that is necessary.
- 1 large egg (beaten)
- ½ cup bread crumbs
- vegetable oil for frying
- In a medium/large frying pan add the olive oil, garlic and puree, cook for approximately 10 minutes, then remove the garlic, add the rice, stir and cook for 1 minute. Add the hot broth 1-2 ladles at a time, stirring often until the rice is cooked (not mushy) and the mixture is liquid free but creamy, add pepper and taste for salt. Stir in the parmesan cheese. Move to a clean bowl and let cool completely.
- Into the palm of your hand measure out approximately (best to wear gloves it is a bit messy) 1 1/2 heaping tablespoon of the rice mixture (you can make them smaller if you wish), in the middle place a stick of chopped mozzarella, mold into a oblong shape, making sure that the mozzarella is completely covered (you may need a bit more rice mixture to close it completely). Set aside on a clean plate until all Suppli are formed.
- In a small bowl beat an egg, and place the bread crumbs in a plate, first roll the suppli in the egg (coating well) and then in the bread crumbs (well coated) set aside until all are rolled.
- In a medium pot heat 2 inches of vegetable oil until it reaches the temperature of 350° (175 C). Fry turning the supple a few times, until golden brown, make sure to keep the oil as close to 350F as possible or the Suppli will cook too quickly and the mozzarella will not become soft and stringy. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on plate covered with paper towels. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
Updated from December 17, 2015.
Bonnie Slocum says
My grandma made suppli all the time. I love them so much but she never had any of her recipes written down, so I was excited to see this recipe.
Hi Bonnie, that’s great glad I could help out. I think suppli is one of my favourite foods in Italy. Take care!
This recipe was spot on! Reminded me so much of what we had at Suppli Roma in Trastevere.
Hi Caleb, thanks so much, one of my favourite Italian food. Take care and Happy New Year!
Enrique Falcón says
Very nice. It can become a recurring part of my menu. Also opens the door to many delicious variations. Did not indicate when to add the salt and pepper, I added to the rice before setting it up for cooling.
Hi Enrique, thanks so much, so glad you enjoyed them. Yes that is the time to add it, I corrected the recipe. Thanks. Take care and have a great weekend.
Joe T says
Great recipe! Could these be made and frozen? I assume these would reheat well. Thank you!
Hi Joe, thanks and yes they can be frozen, you might want to freeze them on a cookie sheet until firm and then move to a container or bag. They should keep for 2-3 months in the freezer. Take care.
I had these in Rome from a little place in Trastevere and it is a very fond memory. Thanks for the recipe, it is just what I am looking for. I will be trying it soon.
Hi Tracy, thanks so much, I hope you enjoy them. Have a great weekend.
Ronald Ascolillo says
Definitely worth making. I’ve had them in Rome with my wife. Over a bottle of 🍷 wine. You won’t be disappointed.
Hi Ronald, thanks Merry Christmas.
Cathie A. Anderson says
Hi, I am so ready to try these, but I was wondering how they would do in an air fryer vs. frying in grease. Have you tried frying suppli in an air fryer?
Hi Cathie, I have never tried them in an air fryer, but if they can be baked I assume it would work. Let me know how it goes.
My mother-in-law used to make these but every time my husband and I tried, they just fell apart. Now I see that perhaps we should have used Arborio rice. Would you ever think of doing a video of this recipe? I am definitely going to try to make them again, but I would love to watch you actually do it. Many thanks.
Hi Joan, it could be because you want a stickier rice, I will see what I can do about doing a video. Thanks
These are AMAZING! My family loves them!
Even though I had lived in Italy briefly when I was 20, (about a zillion yrs ago!) I had never seen these or even heard of them until a recent trip to Rome and Sicily! Fell in love with them instantly!!! They were just fried perfection! We don’t eat a lot of fried things, but started looking to see if a recipe could be found and stumbled onto your site. Can’t WAIT to make these – Thanks!
P.S. My favorite ones of all were in Sicily and had a little bit of spinach stuffed in around the mozzarella!!
Hi Renee, yes one of my favourite foods in Italy, I can never get enough and you can actually fill them with a lot of different ingredients. Let me know how it goes. 🙂
Claire | Sprinkles and Sprouts says
I love Italian food and it is my food of choice if I eat out, but I had never heard of these!
Thank you for introducing me to something new and something I know I will love. I can’t wait to try them!!!! They sound like my idea of heaven!
Hi Claire, these are so good, in Italy they are usually served with Pizza.
can these be made ahead and reheated? Looking to take along for holiday antipasti
Hi Nonni, yes they can, just re heat in the microwave or oven, I have even been known to eat them cold! But they are better warm.
Wow! I’ve never heard of Suppli (or any of the other dishes you mentioned)! But these look so delicious!
Hi Laura, thanks they are really good.
Marisa Franca @ All Our Way says
They look delicious Rose!! My Honey and I don’t make them because we’d eat all of them. Usually we make these kind of yummy dishes when they visit. Thanks for sharing!!
Yum. I’ve made something like this using potatoes. Have to try your recipe. Thank you.