Sour lemon granite and pistachio ice cream, eggplant which melts in your mouth and crunchy canola filled with creamy ricotta cheese. Flavors of Sicily are endless. If you associate Sicily only with the Mob and Etna volcano you should add one more – excellent food. Eating in Sicily is a delight for a palate and suffering for the stomach. It is almost impossible to try everything what this Island has on offer and below list is only the tip of an iceberg.
Snacks – Taste of Sicily
Arancini – well known in whole of Italy but originate from Sicily. Deep fried balls of rice with variety of fillings for example ragu. It is great and simple idea, in our opinion it was created from risotto leftovers. The original ones from Sicilly have interesting conical shape and are huge comparing to one served in different parts of Italy.
Scaccia Ragusana – amazing snack from market stalls or local bakery. Scaccia Ragusana is a tomato sauce with cheese rolled in a pancake style pastry. You can find it only in Ragusa region. We bought ours in Noto and they were with eggplant and one recommended by vendor with onion
Pane con la milza i pane con la tripa – nothing goes to waste in Sicily especially offal. One of specialties are sandwiches, con la milza is a bun with spleen and con la tripe with tripe. We have tried the spleen one and inside were creamy ricotta and shaved local cacio cavallo cheese. You can find it on the market stalls and smaller bars with quick food. We tried one of this amazing sandwiches in the oldest restaurant in Palermo we mentioned here.
Panelle – thin, Salty crumpet made from chickpea flour. It supposed be served on the street but we haven’t seen many. It is great accompaniment to meat dishes in reach sauces or salads.
Pizza sfincione – Sicilian pizza sold by slice on the street, bakeries and many restaurants. It has thicker base similar to foccacia with tomato sauce and onion. We heard it should be with tomato sauce, cacio cavalo, onion, anchovie and olives but didn’t come across this version.
Antipasti – Taste of Sicily
Caponata- made from fried eggplant with tomatoes and celery. Slightly sweet and sour stew of vegetables usually served to share. Goes really good with bread which you can dip in it
Parmigiana di melanzane- baked dish of sliced eggplant with tomato and cheese. Layered like lasagna. Eggplant this way melts in your mouth.
Cipolotti – fantastic finger food ideally as a snack for beer or wine or as a starter. Spring onion wrapped in bacon and grilled. Simple and tasty!
Cacio cavallo al Forno con acciugae miele- the most bizarre combination of local cheese cacio cavallo with anchovy and honey served warm. We were expecting little tapas portion but the plate we got was huge. Dish is tasty but it is hard to eat a lot of it. We had it in Sapori di Don Ciccio in Cefalu. Should be treated as oddity rather then must try
Insalata di mare- served cold, salad of mixed sea food usually in olive oil. We had one with chopped carrot and celery which was really nice
Stigghola – salted and grilled sheep guts, less often goat or poultry ones. We haven’t tried one as were sold out in the restaurant we spotted it on the menu. It is sold as a street food as well. We were told they are quite though and you chew them until all flavor is sucked and then spit it out.
Pasta – Taste of Sicily
Busiate is probably the most interesting one, typical to Trapani region. It is bit like long twisted macaroni. When we were doing our research black sepia colored pasta was omnipresent. We didn’t see it much on the menu in typical places. It could be use more in a touristic restaurants due to its visual effect and not much added flavor. Cavatelli pasta is interesting as well. Eggless semolina shaped like thick shell or mini hot dog bun.
Pasta alla norma- flagship Sicilian pasta. Vegetarian dish from eggplant tomato sauce and cheese make it perfect for vegetarians. We found many Sicilian dishes vegetarian friendly.
Pasta con la sarde– Interesting pasta with Sardines, anchovy, raisins and fennel. If you don’t like one of mentioned better stay away!
Busiate alla scoglio- pasta with olive oil, garlic, mussels, clams and piccolo tomatoes with some parsley.
Caserecce di tumminia alle egadi– great intense fishy taste of this pasta comes from tuna botarga – air dried fish roe.
Pasta a taianu– typical pasta from Cefalu dates back to Arab times. Baked pasta with layers of jerked meat cooked in tomatoes with eggplant, pecorino cheese and basil to garnish. Differs from alla Norma by addition of meat.
Busiate con pesto di finochietto selvatico e alici– if you are not a big fun of Fennel you are rather not going to like it. Fennel paste and anchovy are 2 ingredients – very specific taste.
Pasta alla carretiera– Cansetrato cheese, garlic, pepper and olive oil. Sicilian Cacio e pepe..?
Secondi – Taste of Sicily
To be honest we haven’t tried many main dishes as richness of various pastas and antipasti kept us stuffed. If there is anything we can suggest is sticking to fish and seafood. Most popular are Sardines and Anchovy as well as Tuna and Swordfish. Mussels, clams or octopus are quite popular as well. Most of the time Secondi are served with no accompaniments so it’s worth asking what exactly particular dish contains. (so if they saying ‘slice of fish’ it’s literally just slice of fish)
– Tranco di pesce alla siciliana- Sicilian style fish. Slightly sweet with onion, tomatoes, capers, parsley and salt
– Sarde e beccafico- stuffed baked Sardines with raisins and almonds filling.
Desserts – Taste of Sicily
If you are a sweet tooth you won’t be disappointed. Sicilians don’t shun sugar, what more they know how to transform it into delish stuff.
Canolo- crunchy deep fried tubes filled generously with ricotta cheese cream, chocolate or ‘Crema’ custard like filling. Taste the best when fresh and filled on the spot
Brioche con gelato – Why would you lick your ice cream when you can stick it inside sweet brioche bun? You can go even further and have it for breakfast- like many do.
Granita and brioche con granita – semi frozen delight made form sugar and fruit juice. You can stick to classic lemon or choose from wide range of flavors. You can eat it with spoon wait until melts in a cup and suck with a straw or again stick it in a brioche.
Frutti di martorana- sweet marzipan desserts shaped like fruits or vegetables. Taste like marzipan but looks like small pieces of art. Great as a souvenir or gift.
Pistachio Cream- absolute delight. If you like pistachios this is perfect addition to Cornetto – breakfast croissant. If you are mad about pistachios like we are you can just eat it with the spoon straight for a jar!
Cassata siciliana – sponge layered with ricotta cream covered with marzipan and garnished with candied fruits. Different regions have different shapes and variations. The most popular one is from Catania, small round cake with cherry on the top. If it resemble female breast you are actually closer to true meaning than incorrigible thoughts. It supposed be an image of Saint Agatha breast who was tortured as a catholic martyr and her breast were amputated.
Sicilian wines – Taste of Sicily
Sicily has some amazing wines on offer. Many local grape varieties with DOC appellation as well as some international grapes grow here. Try some wines from vineries form the slope of Etna where volcanic and clay soils produce some smooth red and aromatic white. When in Ragusa region try wines from around Vittoria which holds the only DOCG in Sicily – the highest Italian appellation.
Zibbibo, Malvasia – sublime dessert wine which will go well with cassata and other sweet offerings
Grillo, Cattarato – white wines for you fish and sea food.
Frappato, Nero D’Avola – ripe red wines to go with your meats, pizzas and so on.
Marsala – fortified wine with worldwide recognition
We have spoken more about structure of Italian meals in culinary guide around Rome. If you want to find out more please visit here.