In 2010 I spent 6 months eating my way round Sicily. This is the place where I got my food education (of sorts).
It’s where I discovered the true taste of oranges.
It’s where I learned that 3 decent ingredients are enough to make a meal.
It’s where I decided I liked seafood.
And it’s where I finally understood why it’s worth travelling for the perfect sandwich.
I returned to Palermo for a week in April 2015 and attempted to update this important ‘research’.
There are some excellent places to eat in Palermo and none of them will bankrupt you.
Bar Touring (via Lincoln) is home to the arancina bomba – a softball-sized arancina that will keep you full all day.
For grilled meat head to La Vucciria market in the early evening when the meat stands turn into BBQs.
If sweet stuff is more your thing, there are 3 Sicilian treats you must try.
Cannolo are probably the most iconic dessert (thanks in part to the Godfather). They are pastry tubes about 6 inches long which are filled with ricotta and sometimes topped with chocolate chips or candied fruit. In my opinion, there’s not a great deal of variation in terms of taste of quality so you can pick one up wherever.
Next of the list is cassata, a sponge and ricotta cake encased in a circle of lurid green marzipan and topped with a cherry. Looks like a breast, tastes just as nice. Spinnato (via principe di Belmonte) is a safe bet.
And finally, my absolute favourite: setti velli. The name translates as 7 sheets – the sheets in question being layers of chocolate. The 7 layers of chocolate vary from shop to shop but usually include:
- cripsy chocolate
You will need to head to a pasticceria or high-end cafe to find a setti velli. The streets around via Principe di Villafranca are the best place look. Cappello (via Nicolo Garzilli) is my favourite.
Many bakeries sell mini versions of all these treats. I recommend grabbing a selection and finding out which your favourite.
I haven’t forgotten about ice cream. I am sure you’ll agree it’s an important matter so I’ve covered where to find the best gelato in Palermo in a separate post.
Ferro Cavallo (via Venezia) is noisy and high spirited with food to match. The menu is Sicilian classics done well. I had involtini di pesca spade (sword fish rolls) and also tasted my neighbour’s cuttlefish and caponata (cold aubergine salad). All were bloody lovely.
Check out the markets for dramatic displays of fish and seafood (the sword fish heads are most spectacular).
When you’re done ogling, head to Zia Pina (via Agrigento).
This unassuming place doesn’t even look like a restaurant from the outside but don’t let appearances fool you – it serves up the freshest and best value fish in Palermo.
First, load up your plate with anti pasti from the buffet – there’s almost every type of Sicilian starter on offer so it’s good opportunity to try a little bit of everything.
Then select your fish from the counter. It’ll be cooked to order while you wait. If you’re having trouble choosing, the baby cuttlefish are a bit of treat, the calamari is perfect and the sardines are simple but deeeeelicious.
But beware! Once the fish has been sold the restaurant closes for the day so don’t leave it too late.
I am still searching for the perfect pizza in Palermo. Anyone got any suggestions?