HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >


Rice Ball Truck on 55th (Park and Mad)

Coming back from the Paris theatre (seeing Transconiental - good movie BTW) I happened upon a vehicle that looked like a pizza truck. As I walked by I noticed that the side exclaimed: "Home of the Rice Ball." Upon tasting, it was a lightly fried, extremely moist, well seasoned ball of rice with spinach and cheese inside- (I had the vegie version.) Served with a good marinara sauce it was really quite satisfying. According to the literature posted it is "Grandma's recipe". Personally I had never seen this before, much less on the street. Any other place to get them? Any thoughts at all?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Those are most likely italian risotto balls, called Arancini. They're one of my favorite foods, traditionally made with ham, peas and maybe some fresh mozz in the center, but you can put almost anything in them.

    How much were they and how big were they?

    4 Replies
    1. re: heWho

      Is that the same as "suppli?" That's what they were called in Rome.

      1. re: City Kid

        Yes, they call them suppli in rome. I am not sure why.

        1. re: vvvindaloo

          Having never been to this truck, I don't know if they are selling suppli or arancini, but they are two different dishes. I got this from the "Home in Rome" blog:

          "Now, don't confuse the supplì with their southern cousins known as arancini (ah-rahn-CHEE-nee). What's the diff? Roman supplì are fried tomato-flavored rice balls filled with mozzarella, while arancini hail from Sicily and are often a larger, almost pyramid shape, with saffron-flavored rice, meat, mushrooms, and peas."

          (PS: I would dispute that arancini are pyramid shaped in Sicily, but since they are handmade, hard to be definitive. And while mozzerella is increasingly common throughout Itay, it's like Roman suppli are stuffed with scamorza.)

      2. re: heWho

        With a coke the total was $4.50. Baseball sized.

      3. Rice balls are very popular, and yummy, at modest down-home places in Rome, but I think they are a rarity here. This is a great sighting and I plan to check it out! Thanks!

        1 Reply
        1. re: City Kid

          yeah i had some great ones in Rome, I think there they call them 'suppli'. i want to find this rice ball truck.

        2. does anyone know the hours and locations of this gem


          1. Zach at midtownlunch.com posted about it today -- http://midtownlunch.com/blog/2008/07/...
            and someone linked to a shot of the menu -- http://i37.tinypic.com/2w6wakw.jpg

            1. Nice find, tbear. I'll be checking it out next week.

              1. I tried this truck a few times when it used to be parked on York and 68th. JD, the guy who runs the truck, said he moved cuz parking availability was bad on York - go figure.

                I tried the spinach and cheese arancini once. It was decent, but suffered a bit from being bought near closing time and that fact that it is made from Carolina rice instead of arborio. JD says their meat ball is the best, but I didn't get around to it before he made the move.

                The artichoke pie was like a quiche. Good flavor, but the artichoke was pureed.
                The grandma slice was abysmal.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Joe MacBu

                  Joe, do you know of any other decent street food around York and 68th?

                  1. re: ow77

                    That area is one of the worst areas in the city for a decent inexpensive meal. I work there and dread the days when I don't have leftover homecooked food to take for lunch (or didn't think to get something in Queens beforehand).

                    With that disclaimer...

                    I usually hit up the halal cart on the SW corner of 69th/York for lamb/chicken and rice. He's the friendliest food vendor I know, the food is good and a good value for $4. I avoid the other halal carts nearby; they're gross.

                    Sometimes, I go to the Jamaican truck on the SW corner of 71th/York.
                    They've got a different special each day.

                    If I'm counting pennies, I go to the hot dog cart on the SE corner of 70th/York. Yeah, it's a hot dog, but it tastes slightly better than most other carts.

                    These are all lunch-only places by the way.

                    1. re: Joe MacBu

                      Thanks. btw, that was the third time I asked you that. The previous two posts were deleted by the moderators. I think it's because the rice ball truck guy replied to you, and I mentioned it after they removed his post. I guess they don't like that, or even let people know they don't like that.

                      Anyway, a few more options (for a few more dollars): Tawaa on 68th near 1st Ave. Inconsistent but can be really good. I like their kathi rolls but those offer less value than the steam table entree box.

                      Palacio Azteca on York at 73rd. Decent but small lunch burritos (much better than the larger, with rice, dinner burritos);

                      Tropicalia, also on York at 73rd. ok homely Brazilian food with a decent lunch deal.

                      The best though is a few minutes walk away on 2nd Ave at 62nd. Chicken Kitchen. $6.25 for a quarter dark grilled chicken with two sided (if you eat in) and a dry pita. None of the sides are any good (chopped salad, tabbouleh and black eyed peas are more than edible though) but the grilled chicken is just great. I ate here more than a hundred times and it's almost always good. Sometimes wonderful. It can be a little dry so be sure to ask for a juicy chicken. Get the hot sauce to make that dry pita tasty. This place has the same cheap prices all day long. Better to walk in as they have a really slow delivery.

                2. Ferdinando'sFocacceria
                  151 union st in Brooklyn

                  In my mind hands down the best around. I recomend buying a few and taking them home with you. They are great the next day...just pop em in the microwave.
                  Hopefully this truck will start a trend. So few places in Manhattan sell rice balls. The places that do don't really do such a good job..

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: village hunter

                    If you're talking Brooklyn, I think Joe's of Avenue U does much better arancini than Ferdinando's.


                  2. i work across the street. the pizza here is GODAWFUL. as ive said in the midtown blog, its like a cracker with ragu sauce and grated cheese on top. it was by far the most disappointing food item ive eaten in years.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: sam1

                      Sorry you feel that way Sam, I checked out the truck yesterday around 2 pm. Unfortunately he was out of rice balls, the Chicken Roll was good and the fried meatballs were great too. The Garlic Knots were a bit hard, so perhaps your slice had been out in the heat a bit to long? because I'll be honest I can be a pizza snob and while I didn't have any of his pizza it sure as hell smell like a damn good slice was in that truck.

                      1. re: dnm3k

                        I concur with Sam1; that's some of the worst pizza I've had in this city.
                        It has nothing to do with it being out in the heat too long, etc. It is inherently bad, bad, bad.

                        Stick with the rice balls, but I find them overpriced.