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Jan 21, 2008 01:59 PM

Eating like a Sicilian for a month

Alright guys,

I'll be returning to my home island for the first time... well... ever for all of Spring break this year. That gives me one month. A friend of mine and I will start in Palermo, purchase bikes and ride the island clockwise. We'll be timing our arrival in Naro near Agrigento so that it lines up with Easter, as I still have relatives there.

Now where should I eat? We'll be on an extremely tight budget and I can cook myself, but we need to eat out sometimes. I'm very interested in street food as well as houses that open themselves up as restaurants during meal time, as is common in Palermo. Any other ideas? Fishermen runned restaurants on the coast?

Thanks a lot,


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  1. I can't think of specific restaurants but you should plan to visit the markets, such as Palermo's Ballarò. The famous Vucciria has shrunk in recent years and got itself into too many guidebooks. The fellow selling spleen-covered focaccias is still there, if you want street-type food. The markets of Catania are mind-blowing, especially the fish near the Duomo. You'll want to read the works of Mary Taylor Simeti.

    1. I normally self cater in Sicily so can't really help with the stuff you're looking for as that's the food produced 'at home' while most of the restaurants we go to are closer to the top end in terms of budget. I am however looking forward to your report as I'm going back to Ragusa (and travelling around) again in the autumn.

      1. JFores! Palermo is my old stomping ground, so I have a few fantastic (and CHEAP) eateries I can recommend. I need to get in touch with my Palermitian cronies to get you names and specifics; this may take a little while, so feel free to email me a reminder to post up here. I'd be thrilled to share my favorite places with "the hounds."

        Some stuff to keep in mind is that good, cheap food isn't that hard to come by at all; in many ways it will come to you in the larger cities.

        In Palermo specifically, the Swarma on the street is consistently great, and is a fantastic representation of Palermo's Arab culture. You also can't really go wrong just grabbing an arancini di riso or a panelle. One place (that is written up everywhere, but definitely lives up to its reputation) is Antica Focacceria San Francesco, on via A Paternostro. It was a favorite of Giuseppe Garibaldi; any Sicilian worth his salt needs to make a pilgrimage there at some point.

        You'll find fantastic octopus in Siracusa and incredible granita in Taormina. And the blood oranges, and other citrus fruits are unparalleled in cities that are shadowed by Mt. Etna, like Catania -- so pack your bags full.

        You're going to have an amazing time! Buona Fortuna! And I'll be back with specific names and locations.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jandazza

          This sounds amazing! Thanks a lot. I haven't checked out my post in ages. I'll be leaving on the 14th or 15th of March and returning home the 21st of April. Any suggestions in or near Agrigento? Much of my stay will be spent in Naro which is my ancestral town and where I still have family. The food is going to be GREAT. I've got pretty high standards since I can cook most of what I'll get there, but I am NOT going to be disappointed. Thanks for the well wishes and recs. I plan on returning with an ENORMOUS amount of lemons, blood oranges, anchovies, olive oil and cheese. Like, I will mail my clothes home to take more that's how much I'll have.

        2. Justin,
          In Via Belgio ( Pa ) Re-Food Bar serves sicilian food at its Best to the Locals and tourist that wait for the Pullman on the way to the airport. In Via Malaspina ( Pa ) Don Ciccio, serves great sicilian Foodies to workers and office workers as well, clean polite and very busy. Both locales very inexpensive.

          1. WOW how fab..
            we just got back from 10 days ( doing research) I live in Florence..

            for fun... not $$$ eat at Ferro di Cavallo in Palermo, cheap and packed with locals.
            We did lunch and dinner the same day it was good and fun. Cost 15 euro!

            our best meal?
            outside RAgusa on the hills Castelmonte gulfi at Majone!!!! THE BEST
            walk in through the back room where the kitchen is into the smaller dining room.
            they make a thing called GELATINA, which is a boiled pork, then pressed and served witht he gelatin on top, and other sliced meats.
            then risotto with ragu,and a pasta with another ragu,.
            I didn' care for the famous stuffed pork chops but the sausage was great.
            and don't miss the orange salad!

            In Ortygia we ate at Trattoria Mariano's, he is from Castelmonte gulfi, was a nice guy , nice food too

            At night in palermo when the market closes down, the grill boys get going!
            also the octopus guys!

            I adore Stiglione, the intenstines wrapped around the green onions and grilled

            1 Reply
            1. re: Diva

              Awesome! Thanks a lot. I love middle of nowhere trattoria type places. One of my best meals ever in Italy was 30 minutes into a forest outside of Parma (on top o a tall hill might I add.) Great stuff when you go that far for it.