Eat This Now

Bari Food Cart’s Italian Street Treat Is Fried Pizza and We Love It

Walter Ferrante, a native of Southern Italy, serves up crispy fried dough filled with cheesy, tomatoey goodness.

Videography by Monica Salazar and Rose Lee By Katherine Chew Hamilton

In this pizza-obsessed town, how do you take the doughy, cheesy staple to the next level? Just ask Trifone Walter Ferrante—he goes by Walter—who serves a Southern Italian street food rarely seen stateside called panzerotti out of a Foster-Powell food cart. 

In its essence, panzerotti is essentially like a fried pizza or calzone. Fresh dough gets rolled out by hand and filled to order with tomatoes, cheese, and options including anchovy-caper (Ferrante’s favorite), soft spicy Southern ‘nduja sausage, or our pick, the carciofi (artichoke). Then, it’s lovingly deep-fried until golden brown, where the dough puffs up and becomes crispy while somehow not absorbing too much grease. Magic! It’s airy, flavorful, and delicately crunchy—think Chinese fried dough stick or frybread. Cut open a panzerotto to reveal the stretchy mozzarella within, and don’t forget to grab a freshly piped, lemon zest-loaded cannolo for dessert.

Cracking open a panzerotto.

But if panzerotti and cannoli alone aren’t enough reason to visit, then Ferrante himself is just as much of a draw. Born and raised in a small town in the Apulia region, he brings that Southern Italian warmth and hospitality to every customer interaction. “How are you?” he said, popping his head out the window while I was finishing paying with the cashier during my first visit to Bari. “I’m excited to cook for you!” When my panzerotto was ready, the cashier squeezed a bike horn, drawing curious stares and laughter from all the other food cart patrons. Later, a neighboring food cart owner came over, gave Ferrante a big hug, and asked, “Can I do the horn?” He tooted the horn rhythmically, and soon the whole cart pod was cheering, “Walter! Walter!” Come for the puff, stay for the party. 

Bari Food Cart (closed July 23 - September 1 for vacation), 5205 SE Foster Rd,