One bite of mozzarella in carrozza and you won’t be able to think of anything else except that string of cheese that only gets longer as you pull the sandwich away from your mouth.
Those strings are what give this popular street food and antipasto—said to have been invented in Naples in the 1800s—its name, which translates into “mozzarella in carriage." The melted fresh mozzarella of this deep-fried sandwich resembles the reins of a horse and carriage.
Does this make you want cheese or what? (Photo: Emiko Davies/Food52)
Related: A Trick for Better Lunch Sandwiches
Traditionally, this was a dish invented to use up leftovers: day-old or stale bread and not-so-fresh mozzarella that gets tastier when cooked. It’s commonly done with soft white bread (since you can squash it together to seal the edges better), but it’s tastier when you use a delicious sourdough bread or country-style, wood-fired bread. (But as long as the crusts are cut off and the bread is good and compact, you can pretty much use any type you’d like).
The sandwich gets first dipped into flour, then into beaten egg, two times each, before it's deep-fried until golden and crisp. In Rome, where it’s also a popular snack, a few fillets of anchovies or pieces of ham are sometimes added to the mozzarella.
Mozzarella is our favorite cheese for sandwiches. (Photo: Emiko Davies/Food52)
This recipe is adapted from Roman cookbook writer Ada Boni’s recipe in The Talisman (originally published in Italy in 1929). She doesn’t add milk to her recipe and she cuts the sandwiches into small triangles before frying—the perfect size for a bite.
Related: How to Make the Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Some recipes also use breadcrumbs, either just on the edges or all over, to add extra crunch. In her 1981 cookbook on classic Italian Jewish food, Edda Machlin Servi developed a simpler method to avoid all the dipping from one dish to the next—she combines the egg, milk, and flour into a batter. First she dips the edges into the batter, then seals them with a dip into breadcrumbs, then the whole sandwich gets dipped again into the batter and fried.
Grilled cheese, ten notches up. (Photo: Emiko Davies/Food52)
Makes 4 little sandwiches (serves 2 people as antipasto or snack)
2 balls (about ½ pound or 250 grams) fresh mozzarella
4 thin slices crusty bread, crusts removed
About 1 cup flour
1/4 cup (60 milliliters) milk
Salt and white pepper
Roughly 2 cups of vegetable oil, for frying
Slice the mozzarella into 1-centimeters (1/3-inch) slices and let them drain in a colander while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Cut the bread slices in half so that you have 8 slices of bread. If the bread you are using is an irregular shape (such as a flat country loaf), try to cut the bread into square-ish shapes roughly fitting the size of the mozzarella slices (trying not to create too much wastage of the bread as you shape it).
In a wide, shallow bowl, place the flour. In a separate wide, shallow bowl, crack the egg and beat it lightly with a fork. Add the milk, a pinch of salt, and some pepper.
Pat the mozzarella slices on paper towel to dry them out a little and sandwich them between the bread slices, being careful that the mozzarella slice does not go to right to the edge of each sandwich (leave about ¼-inch border).
First dip each edge of the sandwich into the flour, then dip those edges into the egg mixture. Then dip again the flour, this time covering the entire sandwich well. Then dip into the egg mixture to cover well. Set aside on a plate and continue until the sandwiches are all ready.
Choose a pan, such as a deep skillet or frying pan, where you can fit 2 to 3 sandwiches at a time. Heat enough oil so that the sandwiches will be mostly covered while frying (about 1 to 1 ½ inches deep). Test the heat of the oil with some of the extra bread—a cube of bread dropped into the oil should have little bubbles immediately surrounding it and turn golden in about 15 seconds.
Place 2 or 3 sandwiches into the hot oil and fry until golden brown, then flip them over carefully and fry the other side until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel for a moment, season with more salt if desired, and serve immediately, sliced in half diagonally. (Be careful not to burn your mouth on hot melted cheese!)
By Emiko Davies.