Rice balls have been an Italian staple since the 10th century, when the Arab invasion of Sicily brought rice to the region.
Known in Italian as Arancini di Riso Siciliani, rice balls were originally made with yellow rice, similar to what is used in paella, according to Best of Sicily magazine. The rice was formed around a meat mixture, coated and fried.
More current variations of rice balls use Arborio rice, which is used in risotto, and filled with marinara sauce and cheese, prosciutto and peas, ricotta and marinara, just to name a few varieties.
The shape is important as well. Round rice balls indicate the dish is made with tomato sauce, while a cone-shaped variety has a cheese or white sauce.
Now that you’ve got a taste for a rice ball just like Nonna made, where can you get one?
Giacalone’s Deli – located on the corner of Flintlock Drive and William Floyd Parkway in Shirley, local residents say the rice balls are the best in the area.
“Giacalone’s by far has the best… Closest thing to grandma’s rice balls,” said Danielle D. in a response to a community query on where to go for rice balls.
Giacalone’s offers four varieties: meat, chicken, broccoli and cheese.
Carlo’s Pizza – located on Wading River Road in Manorville, the rice balls here are filled with meat, peas, onions and cheese.
“Carlos’ is THE SPOT for rice balls, ” says Jesse H.
Mama Lisa – located on Montauk Highway in Mastic, the rice balls at this popular pizzeria and restaurant are filled with meat sauce, mozzarella and peas.
Nino’s Pizza – located on Mastic Road in Mastic Beach, Nino’s offers rice balls plain or parmesean style.
“OMG! I LOVEEE THESE,” commented Christine M. on a photo Nino’s posted of their rice balls.
Empanadaville – While the Puerto Rican restaurant in Mastic Beach may not be the place you’d think of to get rice balls, locals highly recommend them.
“EmpanadaVille has the best rice balls around hands down!” shared Justin S.
Have a rice ball you want to recommend? Let us know!