Rachel Roddy’s Guide to Eating in Sicily

Rachel Roddy’s Guide to Eating in Sicily

This article appears in SUITCASE Volume 20:

lived in
for over 10 years having moved from
East London
, so it’s safe to say that food writer and cook
Rachel Roddy is pretty clued up when it comes to the cuisine of

la dolce vita
. When she’s not writing weekly columns for major
publications or drafting out cookbooks, she can be found browsing
local markets for new ingredients to try at home. With Sicily the
birthplace of arancini and rivalling mainland Italy when it comes
to pasta, we asked Rachel for her top food picks on the
Mediterranean island.

1. Sakaleo, Scoglitti

This fishing town not far from Gela has many small, family-run
fish restaurants, and this is the very best of the bunch. They have
their own boat that goes out every day. After antipasti you can
choose a primi and a secondi before finishing with the inevitable
ending of a lemon sorbet.

2. Caffè
, Noto

Noto is the jewel of southeastern Sicily’s trinity of baroque
towns, and this is one of Italy’s best places for pasticherie. The
chef, Corado Assenza, has his own almond grove – he is a master of
almonds, ricotta and citrus, making classically Sicilian dishes
with a lightness of touch.

3. Baglieri, Noto

Here you’ll find traditionally Sicilian food that’s special, but
not fancy. The sommelier spent a year working in
natural wine bar, Terroirs, so expect exciting things
by the glass and bottle.

4. Il Piccolo Napoli, Palermo

A fish restaurant near Vucciria market in
. Expect Palermitano classics such as pasta con le
sarde, or indeed almost anything with breadcrumbs.

5. Prestipino Caffè, Catania

It would be rude not to include this café on Catania’s Piazza
Duomo. These are breakfasts that change breakfast forever. You’ll
love the window displays laden with sweet nutty biscuits and fat
slabs of marzipan – great for gifts to take home.

6. Anna Tasca Lanza Cookery School

Getting to this cookery school exposes the challenge presented
by Sicily’s roads, but it’s worth the schlep for the more
food-minded of you. Courses run by the ever-inspiring Fabrizia
Lanza take a close look at heritage Sicilian ingredients, from
wheat and wine to olive oil, tomatoes and cheese, in a truly
incredible setting.

7. Razmataz and Me Cumpari Torrido, Catania

A fun evening in Catania might involve drinking a Campari soda
and doing some people-watching outside Razmataz – the setting
totally charming, the service less so – before going onto Me
Cumpari Torrido, a newish restaurant in town with modern takes on
traditional dishes (the pasta alla norma, for example, is encased
in slices of fried aubergine) and a knockout list of interesting
Sicilian wines.

8. Trattoria Casalinga da Nino, Catania

I don’t like to use the word “authentic”, but this place does
feel like the real deal, from the pile of rigatoni with tomatoes
and aubergine showered in ricotta salata to the mezzo litro of cold
red wine from a barrel (as delicious as it is rough). Quite
possibly the best plate of pasta you’ll have on your trip.

Don’t miss…

The Sicilian wines of Lamoresca

Filippo Rizzo’s winery, Lamoresca – named after the variety of olive
tree that he found growing here in abundance when he bought the
land – is a kind of Eden. There are fruit trees bursting with ripe
figs, plums and prickly pears. Carob, lemon and mulberry flourish
here in abundance, as do wild herbs such as mint and rosemary, the
flavour of which Rachel describes as “on steroids, with a kind of
superhero power”.

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