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Feb 17, 2011 08:40 PM

Palermo, Modica and Siracusa recs? And Rome list for review

Good evening to all,

We are off for a first visit to Sicily next month. Though we'll be doing some driving around the island, if anyone has recommendations for Palermo, Modica and Ortigia/Siracusa, I'd love to hear them. There doesn't seem to be much online in English--that I've found anyway; I'd be happy to be pointed in the right direction--about restaurants in Sicily. I read the long Sicily thread but it seemed to be focused on "authentic" or "real Sicilian" cuisine. I'm not so hung up on that, though I would certainly appreciate it. For our trip we just want good ingredients cooked well: traditional, nouvelle or other. Upscale, downscale, doesn't matter.

If I am missing a great resource for Sicilian restaurants--book, blog, whatever--please just tell me! I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around Sicily for some reason.

We have five nights in Rome after Sicily. We've been to Rome several times, though our last visit was two years ago. That trip the real standouts were Antico Arco and Checchino dal 1887. This time we will probably revisit both (if they are still good?) and add Grano, Colline Emiliane, ? I am sure we will need some others either for dinner or lunch. Our stay includes a Sunday and a Monday.

Am I missing something fantastic? I feel as if there was some place--many places?--in San Giovanni I had wanted to try but never made it over there.

We are happy to taxi anywhere for dinner. Price is somewhat flexible too. Again, as in Sicily, we don't have a fixed idea of what we should or need to eat other than good food made from high-quality ingredients and prepared with some care.

Thanks in advance for any advice/opinions.

Antico Arco
Piazzale Aurelio, 7, Roma 00151, IT

Colline Emiliane
Via degli Avignonesi, 22, Rome, Lazio 00187, IT

Piazza Rondanini, 53, Rome, Lazio 00186, IT

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  1. I think your Rome choices are just dandy. Colline Emiliane tends to be crowded and a bit uncomfortable and it does have a lot of foreign customers, but for tagliatelle al ragù, tortelli di zucca, lasagne verdi, and other Emilian classics in a casual setting, it still can't be beat. Remember Checchino is closed Sunday and Monday, and Grano is open every day.

    Colline Emiliane
    Via degli Avignonesi, 22, Rome, Lazio 00187, IT

    Piazza Rondanini, 53, Rome, Lazio 00186, IT

    1. First Rome:
      Yes, you are certainly missing a lot in Rome! If you've already been to the places you mentioned, then I would definitely branch out.
      Here are some suggestions:
      Settembrini - definitely go here, instead of Antico Arco. Newish, great restaurant in Rome.
      La Gensola - in Trastevere, fish.
      Flavio al Velevodetto - for a real Testaccio Roman meal. Not as fancy as Checchino, but better I think (I am not a big fan of Checchino)
      L'Asino d'Oro - Don't miss this! Newly relocated to Via Boschetto 73. Dinner is superb, and their 12 euro lunch is the best deal in town.(fixed menu for lunch)
      Tre Zucche
      In San Giovanni, were you thinking of Alchemilia? Cucina creativa, fixed menu.
      Pizzarium - its a pizza a taglio place. But may be the best food in Rome. Behind the Vatican (way behind)

      Palermo: Antica Focacceria
      Ortigia: I had a wonderful meal, a few years ago, at La Foglia.
      If you are in the area, don't miss Cafe Siciliana in Noto.
      The most justifiably famous restaurant in that part of Sicily is Ristorante Duomo in Ragusa (Ibla)
      This is a 'destination' restuarant, and well worth it.
      Modica: chocolate at Bonaiuto

      Hope this helps!!

      Antico Arco
      Piazzale Aurelio, 7, Roma 00151, IT

      Via della Meloria, 43, Rome, Lazio 00136, IT

      La Gensola
      Piazza della Gensola, 15, Rome, Lazio 00153, IT

      1. I had a really memorable meal in Modica at Fattoria delle Torri, 14 Vico Napolitano

        If you are interested, they have a full chocolate tasting menu, with every course incorporating the unusual local, Aztec-in-origin, chocolate (some dishes are like a mole). Off that menu, I vividly remember a fantastic ravioli stuffed with a fava bean puree. My husband wasn't feeling well that evening due to a splitting headache, so I simply ate his entire dinner as well as mine -- and every duplicate course was delicious,

        4 Replies
        1. re: barberinibee

          Great article, thank you. We will be staying at Casa Talia in Modica, so the photo of their breakfast is quite cheering.

          1. re: Leely2

            I had put up info on several restaurants in Ragusa and Modica on the restaurant pages recently if you need more info in that area. Links are below

            Im reluctant to link the individual restaurants here because they will map on the same map as Rome. Im Finding that queries covering a whole list of cities dont work as well as questions in just one geographic area for purposes of linking and particularly mapping.
            If you follow the links below you will see some additional choices.

            Here is another source of Sicilian restaurant reviews that might be of interest to you that I found looking for the excellent sounding Fattoria delle Torre


            1. re: jen kalb

              Here are some recommendations for Sicily from the usually reliable on southern Italy Arthur Schwartz

              1. re: jen kalb

                Thank you very much, Jen. Most helpful.

        2. Thanks, mbfant, minchilli and barberinibee (cute screen name). Glad to know I'm on the right track, and many thanks for the additional recommendations and information. It's good to have a deep bench.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Leely2

            Hi Leely2,

            I've "seen" you on the Fodors board, right? Will be posting on Sicily soon (am in Palermo now) but did eat at La Foglia in Ortigia and it was good, not great. I had a delicious dinner at Dionisus also in Ortigia. If you get to Noto, I had a wonderful lunch there.......Cafe Sicilian was closed. Just back from Lo Scudiero near my hotel and it was good, again not great and a heftier cost than anticipated.

            For Rome, check my name on the Fodors board since I posted it---did not get to Armando al Pantheon this time but did enjoy it a few years ago....

            Lo Scudiero
            Via Filippo Turati, 7, Palermo, Sicilia 90139, IT

            1. re: kathrynj

              Hi Kathryn,

              Yes, I'll be following in your footsteps shortly. I look forward to your report. And thanks for the Dionisus recommendation.


              1. re: Leely2

                Hi Leely2,

                Just found the card for the restaurant and it is Dioniso, not Dionisus.....


                1. re: kathrynj


                  Ristorante Dioniso
                  Via Claudio Maria Arezzo, 29, Siracusa, Sicilia 96100, IT

              2. re: kathrynj

                Hi Kathryn, unfortunately Dioniso was closed the night we walked by, a Tuesday I think, so maybe that's their closing night.

            2. Here's the follow-up now that we have returned from our trip. I didn’t take any food notes, so details are based on memory only. I am sure there are errors, grammar, spelling, and more. My apologies. Corrections welcomed!

              Unfortunately, due to multiple flight delays, our time in Palermo was cut short, and though my list looked strong we didn’t have any notable meals because of an aggressive sightseeing itinerary. We did have delicious snacks and sweets, though, pizza, pistachios, almonds, cannoli, arancini. So we didn’t starve.

              Spizzulio. Wine bar. Great wines, high-quality ingredients, and a gracious and knowledgeable owner/waiter/host/chef/sommelier. Standouts were the wines, a caponata of eggplant, olives, capers and pistachios, the cheeses, the olive oils, any of the traditional Sicilian pastas. Best to keep it simple here because the kitchen is very small. After we realized that it was truly a one-man show that evening, we wished we hadn’t ordered three different pastas. Expect a leisurely evening. Some guys dropped by, had snacks, beer and played their guitar for hours. It’s that kind of place.

              La Gazza Ladra. Great restaurant. We had the traditional tasting menu. Not a light lunch but I had really wanted to try as many of the chef’s interpretations of classic Sicilian dishes as possible. Mission accomplished. Memorable dishes included a little arancino as an amuse, coda di rospo (monkfish?), ricotta with quail’s egg, linguine with “crema di acciuga” (anchovy cream?). Elegant dining room, refined and friendly service. Just a lovely experience from start to finish.

              Osteria dei Sapori Perduti. I had heard this was overrated and a bit of a tourist trap, but we were tired, it was near our hotel, and open on a Monday. What bugged me about this place was that some dishes were, in fact, good, but others were sent out reheated (not a big deal, one was an eggplant dish and the something similar, both the type of thing that would have been made earlier and then cut and served) but cold in the middle. Warm on the outside and cold in the middle. I just don’t like that. That’s just not trying at all. The pastas were good. I suppose we ordered wrong. Live and learn.

              La Gazza Ladra (another one). We walked in here by chance but it turned out to be a Slow Food rec, I think. The food was solid. Good antipasti. One of us had pasta palermitana, quite satisfying. I had some kind of pasta alla Norma, very good, although the eggplant was a bit heavy/oily for me—it tasted great with nice flavor but heavy for me. I think we had a salad too. Anyway, a humble place with good, simple food. Inexpensive.

              Oinos. Upscale, creative. We had told the guy at our hotel we were considering Oinos and Don Camillo, and he had said without missing a beat, “Oh, Oinos, definitely.” We weren’t disappointed. One of us got the filet of beef (Argentinian) with Nero d’Avola and thought it was too salty, but those of us who stuck to seafood were very pleased. Shrimp was great, so was the baccala. Service is warm and professional.

              Roma Sparita. Happened to be at Santa Cecilia in Trastevere so stopped and had lunch. Delicious. I had abbachio scottadito. Someone else had risotto with radicchio. Someone else had cacio e pepe. I think I had puntarelle here too. We were all really happy with this lunch.

              Asino d’Oro. I had some kind of fish puree on blood oranges with sugar, refreshing, nice set of flavors together. Then gnocchi with a tomato/animelle sauce. Very, very good. Everyone liked everything, including the service. Great servers, nice dining room. Chef seemed like a nice guy.

              Antico Arco. My third visit. I thought it was just as good if not better than my other visits. I had a crudo of something or other, mezzi paccheri all’amatriciana, and pigeon breast. Yes, all that food. I have no idea what anyone else had but everyone liked what they ordered. Oh, one of our party had an onion flan I wanted to steal.

              Checchino dal 1887. Great with one minor error. My penne all’arrabiata was way too spicy, and I’m from California! I think it was a mistake, the pepper they used must have been a scorcher and they didn’t know. I still liked it; I’m a fire-eater. I also had an artichoke and abacchio alla cacciatora. Both delicious. Again, I’m not sure what anyone else ate but everyone was pleased.

              Grano. 15% servizio! Yipes, the food wasn’t bad, although I had some kind of pasta all’amatriciana here the night after having the dish at Antico Arco and there was absolutely no comparison. One person in our party did not like what she was served, a veal chop I think. Meatballs were good. Service seemed weird. I’m not sure what was going on there, but I would not return. The only Rome dud. Not too bad.

              Thanks to all for your insights and opinions. Too much food, not enough time.

              Antico Arco
              Piazzale Aurelio, 7, Roma 00151, IT

              Checchino dal 1887
              Via di Monte Testaccio, 30, Rome 00153, IT

              Piazza Rondanini, 53, Rome, Lazio 00186, IT

              La Gazza Ladra
              Via Cavour,8, Siracusa, Sicilia 96100, IT

              Don Camillo
              Via Maestranza 96, Siracusa, Sicilia 96100, IT

              Via della Giudecca, 69, Siracusa, Sicilia 96100, IT

              Via Panoramica Valle dei Templi, 23, Agrigento, Sicilia 92100, IT

              Osteria dei Sapori Perduti
              Corso Umberto I,228, Modica, Sicily , IT

              Ristorante La Gazza Ladra
              Via Blandini, Modica, Sicily 97015, IT