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#1 Ericandblueboy

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 11:33 AM

Might be spending a week in the land of the mafia around Xmas time. Possibly flying into Catania, driving to Taormina, Agrigento, and then flying out of Palermo. Need recommendations for the best pizza and just good food. If you recall seeing a good travel show about Siciliy (such as No Reservation), please let me know.



#2 washingtony

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 10:23 AM

Unfortunately, I happened to only have mediocre food in Taormina--great views, great sights, but nothing spectacular food-wise.

However, and it may not be much help for your trip, I had some of the most amazing meals of my life in the Ragusa region of Sicily (south of Catania, east of Agrigento). I stumbled upon a restaurant, La Piazzetta, off the square of a tiny town called Pedalino. It was one of those watershed meals that fulfilled the promise of what an Italian meal can be: fresh ricotta served with honey, amazing prosciutto, fresh pasta, local wine, et cetera.

If you make it down to Modica, besides the delicious chocolate at Antica Dolceria Bonajuto, I definitely recommend Osteria dei Sapori Perduti for lunch or dinner. I was concerned it would be a tourist trap because it had menus in plenty of languages but it really was fantastic.

In the town of Noto, I had some incredible ravioli at Ristorante il Liberty. The restaurant is in this really cool, wine cellar-type space and the food was very thoughtful, subtle, and executed very well. And of course you can't go wrong with gelato from Costanzo or Caf Sicilia.

There's an older No Reservation on Sicily, but I believe it's mostly in Palermo, I believe, but I haven't been there so I'm not sure how helpful it is.

#3 Ericandblueboy

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 12:00 PM

There's an older No Reservation on Sicily, but I believe it's mostly in Palermo, I believe, but I haven't been there so I'm not sure how helpful it is.


It's so old Travel Channel's website doesn't list where Tony went in that episode. I looked up the Bizarre Food episode in Siciliy and there are a couple of restaurant recs in Palermo. I'll probably pick up Fodor's (or Frommer's), unless someone can recommend a better guidebook. I might already have Fodor's Italy at home.

#4 MMM

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 12:39 PM

We spent 9 days in Sicily last May. Started out in Taormina and had a memorable meal at Osteria Nero d'Avola. The owner is a gregarious and memorable guy who roams the dining room and will regale you with stories of the fish he caught that morning or the wild asparagus he picked yesterday with a pair of gorgeous Australian twins. The food is on the innovative side and quite delicious. Very nice wine selection. Watch the prices on specials.

Another of our favorites was Le Vin de L'Assassin Bistrot on the island of Ortigia in Siracusa. The food is Sicilian with a bit of a French twist and very well prepared. We walked by the closed restaurant in the afternoon, peered in and thought "Oh my, it looks gloomy." But when we returned for dinner, we found it to be atmospheric and lovely. Can't remember what we ate, but it was all delicious.

We continued on south and around the island, ending in Palermo. We found some nice places to stay and more good eating, if you need advice.

#5 DonRocks

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 01:07 PM

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#6 Ericandblueboy

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 03:49 PM

Going to Catania, Taormina, Siracusa, Agrigento and Palermo. At the airport now. Any more recs?

#7 Palaver

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Posted 24 December 2012 - 04:07 PM

I may be too late, but I have a few recommendations from a trip to Sicily in 2009. In Taormina we had a good dinner at L'Arco dei Cappuccini. It couldn't have been an outstanding dinner, as I don't remember that much about it (I think I might've had simply grilled swordfish), but it came highly recommended and didn't disappoint. One night in Taormina we just bought some cheese, olives,and salumi and enjoyed them with wine on the hotel's terrace overlooking the Ionian sea and Mt. Etna. (We had gelato that night before dinner so we wouldn't have to budge after dinner.)

In Siracusa we had a wonderful meal at Osteria da Mariano, a small place tucked in an alley (http://www.osteriadamariano.it/). We sat down and the waiter (owner?) asked if we wanted red or white, then brought wine, and some fresh ricotta with bread, then plates of Sicilian specialities like caponata, then asked if we liked shellfish, after which he brought two of us pasta with assorted shellfish -- some of which I'd never seen before -- and, for my sister, two vegetarian pastas. At this point the wife of an English couple sitting near us, who got there before us, said "have you seen a menu, or are you flying blind too?" They were concerned what the bill was going to be, but when they received it they gave us the all's well signal. We were pretty full by this point and begged off the second course (though I was tempted just to see what they'd bring us). They then brought after-dinner wines and a couple of sweets -- candied ginger and sesame if I'm not making that up. When the bill came it was about $25 a piece. Was it the most delicious meal I ever had? No. But it was well-prepared, simple, local food and a great deal of fun. The next night we went to kind of a weird place recommended in our book and regretted not having gone to da Mariano again.

When we visited Agrigento we stayed outside the town, and the owner of the place we stayed (Villa Diana) recommended a restaurant nearby. It was a touristy, event kind of place (it looked like there were big groups of families celebrating high school graduations or something like that), but the food was fine (I got a sampler of local foods), and we dined outdoors with a view of Greek temples. Might as well do that when you can.

Finally, we had a very nice upscale dinner in Palermo at Osteria dei Vespri, below the piazza where the long, beautiful ballroom scene in The Leopard was filmed. I don't remember the details of what I had there, but do remember a wonderful cheese plate. I also remember feeling like we were taking our lives in our hands walking through deserted alleys to get there even though it wasn't even dark yet before dinner started. I felt less uneasy walking home afterward -- probably due as much to the wine as to the fact that there were more people around later. We also enjoyed visiting the outdoor market in the morning (the Vucciria) -- as always while on vacation, it made me regret we didn't have a kitchen. (On a non-food note, we loved our visit to the mozaic- decorated cathedral at Monreale, outside Palermo.)

As you probably know, Sicily has some wonderful food, particularly if you like fresh fish -- especially tuna (tonno) and swordfish (pesce spada). The cuisine of Sicily has been influenced over the centuries by Greece, Northern Africa, Spain, and their Italian neighbors to the north: cinnamon, pistachios (Bronte is near Mt. Etna), olives, citrus, raisins, almonds, . . . . And they really prize their sweets, including granita, cannoli (of course!), cassata (a kind of cake), marzipan candies, and a sandwich of gelato on a brioche, an item supposedly eaten at breakfast.

I hope you're having a great time!
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#8 Ericandblueboy

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Posted 25 December 2012 - 11:15 AM

In Siracusa we had a wonderful meal at Osteria da Mariano, a small place tucked in an alley (http://www.osteriadamariano.it/). We sat down and the waiter (owner?) asked if we wanted red or white, then brought wine, and some fresh ricotta with bread, then plates of Sicilian specialities like caponata, then asked if we liked shellfish, after which he brought two of us pasta with assorted shellfish -- some of which I'd never seen before -- and, for my sister, two vegetarian pastas. At this point the wife of an English couple sitting near us, who got there before us, said "have you seen a menu, or are you flying blind too?" They were concerned what the bill was going to be, but when they received it they gave us the all's well signal. We were pretty full by this point and begged off the second course (though I was tempted just to see what they'd bring us). They then brought after-dinner wines and a couple of sweets -- candied ginger and sesame if I'm not making that up. When the bill came it was about $25 a piece. Was it the most delicious meal I ever had? No. But it was well-prepared, simple, local food and a great deal of fun. The next night we went to kind of a weird place recommended in our book and regretted not having gone to da Mariano again.

We were wondering around the island of Ortygia yesterday. I looked for Don Camiilo - closed. I looked for Oinos - closed. At that point we were just going to the tourist restaurants by the water, near Fountain Aretusa. Then I smelled something good wafting out of a restaurant. I wanted to go there but then a few groups of peole walked by and turned down an alley. We followed them and ended up at Mariano. I had spaghetti with bread crumbs and anchovy and some grilled shrimp. The shrimp were perfectly cooked. I've not had shrimp that tender any where. The spaghetti and anchovy was pretty good - I didn't know what it was when I ordered it. It's called spaghetti with mollica and accughe (or something like that). My ipad had no signal so I didn't know what I ordered until I ate the pasta. The rest of the family had some pretty good pasta. Since arriving on Sunday, that was the best meal (because not many places were open on Xmas Eve and Xmas day).

#9 Ericandblueboy

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 02:45 AM

In Taormina we had some pizza at Vecchia Taormina - best pizza in Taormina according to Fodor's. Indeed it was pretty good (but I still prefer Pupatella). The pizza we had in Catania had really crunch crust. The pizza at Vecchian Taormina had a softer crust but still on the crunchy side.

For lunch we ate at a restaurant by the sea (down from Taormina) called il Gabbiano. Fantastic view which was reflected in the prices. The food was not particularly good though.

For dinner, we ate at a restaurant by the hotel called Grotta Azzura. They had seafood on display in a tray of ice, and lots of sea urchin. I had looked around to see how much restaurants charged for spaghetti ai ricci, it was 13 euros at Grotta Azzura and 17 and higher at other places. And it was very good at Grotta Azzura. The appetizer of ricci in the shell was 10 halves for 10 euros - unfortunately they were so small there was very little to eat. I also had some great clams and mussels sauteed with tomato sauce.

We also had lunch at a town above Taormina called Castelmola on Christmas day - il Vicolo, recommended by Fodor's. It was pretty average, the grilled shrimp being hard to peel.

#10 Ericandblueboy

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 03:58 PM

So we went to Sicily because it's kind of warm in December, and my niece wanted to go back to Italy. In preparation for the trip, I bought Fodor's Italy. As it turned out, its coverage of Sicily isn't very good given the amount of time we were spending there.

We flew into Catania, the second largest city in Sicily. Traffic is hellish in the cities - traffic signals are some times obeyed. Luckily my brother is an experienced driver when it comes to third world settings. We used my Verizon Blackberry's navigator and Google Maps for iPad to get around. I believe Google Map's directions are worse - often leading us to non-passable alleys, and a slighted dented rental car from trying to turn in a very tight alley (good thing my brother got insurance).

On the day of our arrival, we walked all over Catania. We had an arancini and some involtini siciliana (meat roll) as an afternoon snack (bought from a cafe near Villa Bellini). I only had a small bite of each but they were both pretty good. I can't remember if the arancini was stuffed with anything - I just remember nice tomato flavored rice that's pretty moist. We soon found out that restaurants don't start serving dinner until 7:30 or later - notwithstanding there were tons of people walking around (then I read about the passeggiata - bascially the locals come out in hordes but not necessarily to eat). We ended up having pizza for dinner.

On day 2 (Xmas eve) we drove out to Siracusa. There's the island of Ortygia and the Parco Archeologico. Both are worth visiting. And then we went back to Catania for the night, only to find nothing notable open for dinner. We ended up at a restaurant located at the Piazza del Duomo (yes, it's the most touristy spot in Catania) but the food wasn't bad. I did not have a single bad plate of pasta in Sicily.

On day 3 (Xmas) we drove to Taormina for 2 nights. Above Taormina is a small town called Castelmola. It's a bit of a hike but nothing treacherous. Located at 1,800 feet above sea level, the view from Castelmola is nice.

On day 4 we drove to Mt. Etna and took the funivia (cable car) to half way up the mountain. Once there, you can climb the rest of the way or take a bus. As it was freezing and windy, I elected to hang out at the cafe while my family members attempted to hike to at least one crater. In the afternoon, we returned to Taormina and had lunch near the beach. Taormina is a beautiful city with lots of restaurants open even on Christmas.

On day 5 we drove through Caltagirone (not much to see), Piazza Armerina (fabulous ruin of an Imperial Roman Villa with outstanding mosaics), and Enna (got there late, didn't stay long) to Agrigento. We were staying at a hotel near the Valley of the Temples, and nearby is Trattoria dei Templi. It is recommended by Fodor's, and the only restaurant nearby other than the restaurant at the hotel which wasn't appealing.

On day 6, we walked to the museum first and then saw the temples - stopping for lunch at il Re di Girgenti on the way back. Here I had another bowl of spaghetti ai ricci (sea urchin) and a bowl of squid ink pasta. This restaurant actually has a view of the valley. If it wasn't a long walk, I would've had dinner here as well, but I ended up at Trattoria dei Templi again.

On day 7, we drove through Prizzi (nothing to see), Monreale (the Duomo was closed when we got there around lunch time but it's something Fodor's says is worth seeing), to Palermo. Dinner was at Fodor's recommended Trattoria Altri Tempi. It's a throw-back restaurant - they give you a liter of red wine to start and finish the meal with cannoli and 3 types of booze. They also serve all kinds of spare parts. We all enjoyed it.

On day 8, we had lunch at Trattoria Biondo. Fodor's says this place has the best lasagna. But it wasn't on the menu that day and I even asked if they had lasagna that day - the answer was still no. It had mostly a foreign crowd when we visited. We also went to the Ballaro market - lots of vendors and locals shopping for fresh meat and seafood.

Didn't have any mind blowing food (because we didn't look for high end restaurants) but was amazed that every restaurant gets their pasta cooked just right (except on the first night, when the pasta was not al dente).

Attached Thumbnails

  • Arancini & Involtini.JPG
  • Siracusa (25).JPG
  • Ricci spaghetti.JPG
  • Grappa.JPG


#11 Ericandblueboy

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 08:54 PM

Some market shots.

Attached Thumbnails

  • Catania Fish Market (1).JPG
  • Palermo Ballaro (1).JPG
  • Siracusa (26).JPG


#12 ASL

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Posted 07 August 2013 - 09:46 AM

Just went in July and had two exceptional experiences in Palermo: Osteria dei Vespri and Bye Bye Blues (good, despite the English-language name).  In Taormina, we thoroughly enjoyed Vicolo Stretto.  Reservations strongly encouraged at all three during peak travel season. 







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