After an exhausting morning of walking the curvy, hilly streets of Nice in search of the Matisse museum with my friend Carlotta, we were famished. We wandered into the oldest part of Nice, Vieille Ville, and found a small pizzeria serving something called socca. I had no idea what it was, but I ordered it anyway. Now my life is forever changed.
Socca goes by many names: “farinata” in the Ligurian and northwestern part of Italy, “cecina” along the Tuscan coast of Italy, or “torta de ceci” on the famous island of Sardinia. It’s a speciality of the region running from the southeast area of France (Nice especially) to Tuscany, Italy (but it’s most famous in Genoa).
If you know a bit of Italian, you might be able to translate “torta de ceci” into the pancake that is known as socca: a crepe-like creation that combines chickpea flour, water, and olive oil. It is cooked on a meter-wide copper griddle—or pan—generally over an open fire.
Bonus: If you’re a vegetarian or gluten intolerant, you can indulge in socca because it’s naturally wheat- and meat-free.
It’s hot. It’s crispy. It’s simply divine. In one bite, the blackened edges from the fire and the almost custard-like center provide a perfect contrast of textures. It has a lick-your-lips savory quality with a hearty and slightly sweet and fatty taste from the chickpeas. The best eateries cut the meter-wide crepe in half while it’s still on the pan and give a portion big enough for two meals. Add salt and pepper, and you’ve got yourself a delicious, cheap lunch along the Cote D’Azur.
If you’re ever in Nice, a socca-snack stop is a must. Here are our top picks to visit for this savory treat: