Sicily is not as famous for its’ food as other Italian regions but never the less Sicilian food is phenomenal. The restaurants hide the good stuff very well from tourists but a lot of street food is easily accessible for everyone. Restaurants indeed require a little research.
You will probably not be able to avoid trying some of their almond or pistachio cakes. They are everywhere and they go oh-so-well with a cup of coffee. Which you will have several times a day.
My favorite one’s where from a bar in Sant’Alfio called Papotto. The bar doesn’t look special and it isn’t – but their cakes are famous and people come from afar for them. Many other places the almond paste is very moist and probably the cakes have just been formed without any baking. Papotto’s version is slightly chewy inside and crunchy around the edges. I think they do bake them a little, I forgot to ask.
After a really bad pasta in Catania (in a restaurant that was so sneaky as to take over an earlier Bib Gourmand address and we were fooled into a really bad experience) we skipped the main course and went on to Savia, a great pasticceria making all kinds of sweet and savoury treats. We came for their arancine (fried risotto rice balls) and cannoli (a fried dough tube filled with fresh sweetened ricotta). That was a delicious consolation meal!
When it comes to pasta the Sicilians rely heavily on their sea food and also here pistachio and almonds get their stage time.
Pasta al nero di seppia (black pasta with squid inc) and pasta with tuna roe at the “Embassy of the Sea” in Catania. (Ambasciata del Mare)
Pasta alla Norma is another Sicilian classic: tomato, egg plant and smoked ricotta.A very decent dish of fresh pasta with wild boar ragout (Ai Lumi, Ragusa)
But when you once again get frustrated about not finding anything but tourist traps you might decide to do some cooking on your own. That is not a bad choice! The produce you can get your hands on simply is divine. Like these very thin asparagus tips.
Or these very crunchy artichokes that almost had a smell like fresh grass.
But sweets really is their thing. Anything that can be stuffed with fresh sheep’s milk ricotta like this casatella cake. Or with almonds and pistachios like this dessert creation that still makes me weep when I think of it.Also chocolate they can master.
They call this beast Don Camillo and you should go to Café Minerva in Siracusa to get it. Pricy but really good and very nice staff.
A definite must if you arrive at or leave from Catania airport in the morning is the nearby Caffè Parisi. A very charming family owned breakfast bar and pasticceria that has the most effective service and humongous ricotta filled breakfast croissants.
One thing is certain: you will never go to bed hungry in Sicily!