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Sicily Restaurants: Reviews & Recommendations


Jeanne
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:biggrin:  Just returned from Sicily on May 24, 2003. Recent enough?

If you have big bucks and can find some of the small private restaurants you will be able to have the best food you have ever tasted.

In Taormina go to Casa Grugno. www.casagrugno.it

or the restaurant at the Grand Hotel Timeo (Il Dito e la Luna)

In Palermo Cin Cin www.ristorantecincin.com

In Agrigento Baglio de la Luna

You will bless me for these suggestions.

Bernie

The only restaurant you mentioned that I have dined at is the one at The Grand Hotel Timeo. While it wasn't bad, it was the only disappointing meal of my entire 17 day trip. The hotel itself is fantastic. The restaurant wa beautiful with refined service, but I found the food to be no better than ordinary.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I also just returned from Sicily on Saturday. The food in Palermo, Cefalu, Marsala, Milazzo and Syracusa was outstanding. Wine and deserts were excellent. Unfortunatley, Taoromina was somewhat disappointing. Although the city is beautiful and quite breathtaking, I found the atmosphere to be too touristy and geared way too much to the Germans and British. We had decent meals there but were very disappointed by one upscale restaurant called Maffei's. The food in Taoromina was typical Italian fare. Island is beautiful and my favorite spot was Cefalu.

Heuriger Wein is mein Lieblingswein!

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  • 2 months later...

Of course it depends on where You are travelling in Sicily. As to my expereinces, the following are selected personal opinions:

In Taormina, Il Dito e la Luna has the most beautiful panoramic setting, but the cooking is rather "cold" and internationally oriented. The same is to be said of the also elegant and panoramic "La Giara" in the best Night Club in town, which You can choose if it shall be a dancing and show-off evening, rather than a gastronomic one.

Casa Grugno is the latest "elegant" restaurant, I feel the dishes are too much elaborated out of their tipicality, so again it becomes soulless. In addition, the interior is quite cold and standardized, only the outside terrace is nice. However, I could never tell "do not go", because quality and athmosphere are certainly pleasant.

My favourite is "Maffei's", just off the main corso, at about the half of it. It is elegant but not artificial, and has a beautiful garden. The Chef lived in Germany for a while, and is very concerned in satisfying every kind of customer. For this reason, there are also internationally looking dishes on the list, but they are not worth the try. While, if You choose the simplest things, like raw sea ourchins and pasta with the same if available, roasted baby octopus, and simply prepared fish, You will be more than delighted, becuase this is how the guy started, and what he does best, maybe better than anyone else in a rather touristic place.

Second, try "L'Arco dei Cappuccini": the locals indicate this as the best in town in this moment.

Another one worth a visit is "Il Duomo" on the square in the middle of the main corso. Try to sit on the nice outside terrace overlooking the square. They have very nice home cooking and excellent and varied starters.

Finally, two simple places without frills where the locals go: "Il Tiramisù" and "Franco", both at the Northern end of the centre, the first has great Pasta and desserts, the second great seafood and Pizza.

Letojanni (on the coast towards Messina): Nino, on the seashore, has excellent fresh fish and seafood, sell prepared.

Catania: Osteria Tre Bicchieri, half way between restaurant and wine bar, with an interesting cellar and a simple but creative cooking.

Also, there is a very talented young Chef called Carmelo Chiaramonte who makes refined cooking from local ingredients. He used to have a small restaurant in the middle of the centre, in Palazzo Biscari, but I don't remember it's name. Also, I understand he recently moved to direct the restaurant of a new Hotel called Katané Palace, still in Catania.

Palermo: try Bye Bye Blues in Mondello, where You better skip the overrated and famous Charleston. Around the town, there is "Il Mulinazzo" in Villafrati, probably the best restaurant in all Sicily. In the city centre, any simple and genuine Trattoria will provide You a wonderful experience of typical home food at very low prices.

Favignana island (one of the most beautiful): The Hotel and restaurant "Egadi" is the best address in the place.

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Wiener, I can understand this: if considered an "upscale" restaurant, Maffei may be disappointing because then it appears to be pretentious, especially for the "elaborated" dishes. But if You distillate the soul and atmosphere of the place and consider it rather a cosy hideaway, where to taste simple and local dishes, then You'll be surprised.

On the other hand, I agree with You on the overall impression Taormina may rise. But, well, this is in its tradition: in fact it was discovered by german "tourists" more than 150 years ago, so germans and nordic culture are part of history and local feeling. This makes the place very different and more tollerant than any other place in Sicily.

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N----I have to give you credit for your comments. Now, that some time has passed, I find myself missing Taromina a lot. More than Palermo, Trabia, and the Trapani area. When I reflect on the places we ate, the beautiful scenery, and the excellent food, I really remember Taromina the most. I even have softened to my opion on Maffei's. The food was excellent and the garden, charming. There were too many servers, yet, maybe they were all in training for the summer season. This is what I find the most fault with----too many servers standing around.

I am already plotting out a way to return next year. I want to see different things, perhaps spend more time in Syracusa but I would love to end my stay, once again in Taormonina.

Sicily really does work some magic on the sould. I was once and avid visitor to Vienna. I'd go to Vienna once a year, taking the usual sidetrips.

I have to admit that I think about Sicily every day now and that is truely something special for me.

Heuriger Wein is mein Lieblingswein!

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Hi there...this is my first post, so, I hope to do it correctly.

Agroturismo is probably the least exploited ways for foreigners to travel through all parts of Italy ( Sicily, Calabria, Puglia, Basilicata and Abbruzzi, especially).

Families and individuals who decided to answer the call (of course with EU investment) and return to the land, have much more to offer in great food, true traditions and tranquility. If you visit one of these locations while visiting Sicily, you should know that all the goods that are sold ( jams, cured meats, olive oils, wine and cheeses) must be produced on site, with goods raised on site.

The accomodations are not luxurious, but rooms are clean, the air crisp and the hilltowns and shores near by are a dream. So, let me list a few of my favorite places.

Villa Dafne..Alia, Palermo

091-821-9174 contrada Cozzo Di Cicero .

Alia ( the town) is located between Cefalu and Palermo.

They raise sheep, so hot, steamy ricotta is served in the morning ( after the milking).

Feudo Tudia

Castellana Sicula, Palermo

0934-673-029 and tudiad@hotmail.com

Pool, restaurant and products for sale.

Villa Levante

Castelbuono, Palermo.. Contrada Farbaudo

Via Isnello

0921-671-914.

This is a castle from the l'ottocento (800).. this is a great place to see how olive oil is made. It is located in the midst of a uliveto ( olive grove).. very close to Cefalu, but a million stars away.

La Perciata

Siracusa , Contrada Gratta Periciata

SP 14 Mare-Monti per Canicattini Bagni.

0931-717-366 www.sistemia.it/perciata.

This is located ver near Avola, where my favorite red wine is made ( Nero D'Avola)..

Colamarco

Castel'Umberto ( Messina) Contrada Colarmarco

0941-438-130

Guided tours through the Nebrodi mountains and so very close to the Tyrennian coast... a great location where you can eat amazingly fresh ( and delicious) food and choose to go the beach or the mountain.

Santa Maria Xilona

Sinagra, Messina Contrada Santa Maria Xilona

0941-594-083

A small lake for fishing and many amenities

Il Casale delle Rose

Caltagirone ( Contrada Santo Stefano)

ilcasaledellerose@agriturismo.it

0933-250-64

Masseria Carminello

Valverde , Catania

Via Carminiello # 21

095-721-3152

www.carminello.com

I hope that you read the above and that on your trip you decide to visit these areas. I promise that you will not be dissapointed with the effort. Taormina does not, in any way shape or form, reflect Sicilian life. That has become a sort of palour to entertain the guests. I guess that is OK, but as someone who was born and raised there ( and who goes back at least once a year), it is not what makes a trip to Sicily memorable.

Have a great trip and let me know if I can add anything furhter..

OH, go to Caccamo and to Polizzi Generosa. Great little cities. In the latter you may run into Vincent Schiavelli who ( one flew over the cokoo's nest and ghost) basically has decided that six months a year there is great.

ciao e buon viaggio.

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etnea,

A belated welcome to eGullet...and despite what others might say, there is no 'incorrect' way to post here (but check the user agreement for any guidance).

Thanks for the great list of resources in Sicily. We spent about 10 days in Cefalu a few years ago and are ready to go back.

Jim

olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

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  • 3 weeks later...

I am glad to share what ever information with regards to Sicily... I left my heart and soul to her years ago.

I just got back last week and I spent the last day bathing in Cefalu and I could still taste granita ai gelsi.

Oh my, oh my!

A presto..

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We're eager to get back to Sicily, and I have a picture of the old city of Cefalu and the rocca above my desk to remind me.

etnea, a question: what is the weather like in the winter? We have a postcard from Cerami (where my wife's grandmother was born, near Enna) dusted with snow, so I'm guessing the interior can get cold. But we liked Cefalu so much I'm sure we'll stay there again...but I didn't get to see much of the southern coast last time, and then there are the islands...I really want to see Pantelleria.

Thanks

Jim

olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

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  • 2 weeks later...

Carnevale celebrations, which are held in February, should be reason enough to go to Sicily in the off-off season.

Mister Bianco ( provincia Catania), Acireale, Taormina on the Eastern part of the island are legendary parades and thousands, upon thousands of people share the joy and celebration .

Enna is the highest point with such a large population, and yes, it does get cold. One knows that just by taking a look at the spirits that are available here and no where else on the island!!!

Cefalu is great, I have not been there during off-off season.

I was there in 2002 in November.. it was not the best time due to the spectacular eruptions and earthquakes.. the islanders were holding prayer vigils, churches were open to all.. very strange.

By the way, do you have access to RAI-International? If yes, there are two shows that you cannot miss.. one is Line Blu program ( culture and foods of regions, towns on the coasts) and Montalbano, a police series that has so many hidden political, social and gender issues.. the latter is filmed throughout Sicily.

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Etnea,

I too was in Sicily last November and got to witness the eruption of Etna from Taormina. I thought it was a special time to be there. The eruption was particularly impressive at night.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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etnea,

Thanks for the info...not sure if we'll make it, but it does sound tempting.

Mt Etna was also erupting when we were there in Oct 2001. We had just left Bronte, birthplace of Judith's grandfather (and it seemed like a depressing place...dark, dirty, with a Mussolini-era building still pockmarked from WWII machine gun fire in the central piazza) and were driving west back toward the road to the coast. My friend Chris yelled, "holy shit, stop the car," and we pulled over and looked back. It was a long way away, but we could see bright flashes of red shooting from the mountain.

Jim

olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

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Bronte is a scarred place... if you ever get a chance to read "The trial of Bixio" you may see why, when we have all been taught that Garibaldi unified Italy, well, the story was a bit different for the Brontese and many other spirited Sicilians.. Plus,marauding bands, trecherous weather, organized crime and the all mighty Etna.. well, and you will see. However, the generosity and spirit of it's 5K towns people is uplifting. By the way, Bronte produces a D.O.C. Pistacchio Pesto that is to die for. I must have taken twenty little bottles with me this time. And, if you are there during the winter months.. November or December, go and have the head cheese that is the best around.

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I was supposed to go visit a Bronte pistachio producer last November, but was prevented by the activity of the volcano. Bronte has an interesting history. Wasn't that where Admiral Nelson was granted a heredetary peerage?

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Yes..If you are interested further, do a search on the Bixio Trials. The book that I have is in Italian, not sure if it was ever translated.

That is weird.. the roads were not blocked to Bronte..

You should have taken the "Mandrazzi" a very spectacular and somewhat deserted back road that ribbons around the back and nw part of the mountain, which would have allowed you to get to Bronte without heading straight into the hellish lava.

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  • 7 months later...

Some friends are visiting Sicily (Taormina, Siracusa, Palermo & Messina) and have asked if I'd like them to bring anything to me in London. Any advice about items that are: easy for them to carry (so not breakable or heavy); can't be found in London; and of course delicious, would be most welcome!

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easy for them to carry (so not breakable or heavy); can't be found in London; and of course delicious, would be most welcome!

I have no clue whether these can be found anywhere in London, but you could just cross out the ones that are:

my first pick would be real Sicilian cannoli, in their "da viaggio" or transport version. These are cannoli where the fried dough shell has been glazed with chocolate, to prevent it from going soft from touching the ricotta stuffing. But, since they should be eaten fresh, I don't know if your friends would be ready to buy some just before they return to the UK

Tuna products are probably something typical and hard to find outside Sicily. There's some really excellent tuna in olive oil, but what I'd look out for would be bottarga (salt pressed tuna eggs), ficazza (tuna salami) and cuore di tonno (the salt cured heart). A very good producer is Favonio from the island of Favignana

If you like capers those from Salina and pantelleria are considered the best in Italy. Caper fruits are quite nice too.

There's quit a lot of nice vegetable and fruit preserves. Something that would take little space would be some pasta sauce like pesto trapanese, or sarde e finocchietti sauce (for pasta con le sarde).

Almond products is another idea: almond paste to make almond granita or for making almond sweets or if you like something ready to eat frutta martorana, fruit shaped sweets made with pasta reale, a sort of marzipan.

... I could go on quite a bit (winw olives and olive oil, cheeses...) but I guess it's enough :biggrin: . Did I mention I really love Sicilian food?

Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.
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I can't remember what it's called, but I brought back some dried tuna belly (mosciana?) that was delicious. I also cooked some prickly pears, ran them through the mouli, and packed the juice into plastic water bottles. When I got home, I made sorbetto.

But salt-packed capers from Pantelleria would also be my number 1 recommendation. They keep forever, taste wonderful, and are relatively cheap in Sicily.

Jim

olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

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I can't remember what it's called, but I brought back some dried tuna belly (mosciana?) that was delicious.

How could I forget that?! Jim, you're absolutely right, mosciame is another great tuna product.

Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.
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Thanks ! Great suggestions, all. Some of these things are available in the UK but either relatively costly or lower quality. For example even simple things like tuna packed in OO and capers are not pretty prosaic.

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I would bring back a real cassata siciliana. Cassata in Sicily is not ice cream, but is a cake covered with an almond paste frosting and often is decorated with candied fruits. I've never seen the real thing outside of Sicily.

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I brought back the best sun-dried tomatoes from Sicily available at the outdoor markets. I would second the capers from Pantelleria. They are superb. Another product would be lentils from Ustica.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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My grandpaerents go back to their home in Sicily every year and always bring back flavourings and extracts for baking that are hard to find in Canada or are of poor quality when they can be found. These include orange blossom water, mille fiori, cinnamon (which seems to be of higher quality or fresher), almond paste, etc. They also bring back some sweets like Paste di Mandorla (almond cookies).

In addition to sweets and baking stuff, the tuna they bring back is also very good.

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'Strattu (double concentrated tomato paste) and wild mountain fennel seeds from the Vucciria in Palermo.

Definitely salted capers!

Sea salt from Trapani.

Frutta di Martorana (marzipan fruit)

In Palermo, they should go I Peccatucci di Mamma Andrea to located at Via Principe di Scordia 67. It's a beautifully elegant shop shop filled with peccatucci ("little sins") -- amazing candies, sweets and a wide variety of cordials and liqueurs.

Andrea and her staff are very gracious and helpful, and will ship anywhere (always good for not having to lug the stuff back through customs).

I have a bottle of a bay leaf liqueur (alloro) from her shop that I guard jealously.

Along with Malvasia, Idromele (honey wine) is another fanatastic item.

I need to go back very soon!

We need to find courage, overcome

Inaction is a weapon of mass destruction

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