America’s Next Top Snack Chip

Risotto Chips

Risotto Chips

I Paid: $2.99 for a 5-ounce bag (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 5 stars

Marketing: 3 stars

Risotto Chips are like a new branch in the taxonomy of snack chips, which includes separate branches for corn chips, potato chips, and so on. In terms of texture and usability, they’re probably closest to white tortilla chips but are made with brown and Arborio rice flour, are gluten-free, and offer a good deal of whole grains (11 grams per serving of nine chips) in the bargain.

Now, the presence of more desirable nutritional characteristics is almost always the indication of a devil’s bargain when it comes to taste: Sure, you can have your whole grain, but only at the cost of your afternoon snack tasting like a loofah. Not so with New York Style’s Risotto Chips. They’re straight-up delicious—nothing ambiguous about it.

The Sea Salt variety (which contains only nine ingredients, all of which are easily comprehensible) is a delicate, lightly salted, almost smoky-tasting chip—like Wheat Thins and Ritz, it’s a great snack by virtue of its modesty and balance. Regardless of the various health claims attached to the chip, these will be my new go-to for dipping and snacking; like Doritos or Pringles, they trigger that addictive chain-eating thing, but unlike either of those chips, there’s relatively little guilt involved.

The Parmesan and Roasted Garlic flavor starts with a pronounced and sincere Parmesan umami at the front of each bite, which then levels off and mellows into a gentler garlic flavor. And while a chip named after a pasta sauce doesn’t necessarily inspire confidence, the Spicy Marinara flavor works—there’s a salty, spicy seasoned taste that comes on strong and finishes with gentle but palpable heat.

If there’s any justice in the world—and I think we all know the score on that front—these things will blow up and become huge. The beauty of properly seasoned rice-based chips is something that deserves a big audience.

James Norton edits the Upper Midwestern food journal Heavy Table. He's also the coauthor of a book on Wisconsin's master cheesemakers. Follow CHOW on Twitter, and become a fan on Facebook.