Italy may be a country renowned for its tremendous love and respect for food and drink, but nowhere may this be more true than Sicily, which has well earned its nickname of “God’s Kitchen.” Each Sicilian region boasts its own delicious and distinct dishes, but visitors can expect to find seafood, olive oil, and scrumptious desserts on the menus of virtually all Sicilian restaurants.
Influences from Greece, Italy, and southern mainland Italy are prevalent in traditional Sicilian cuisine, but Chinese and Tunisian restaurants are also common sights in Sicily’s major cities. However, eating out is always considered a relaxing way to socialize whether visitors dine in local homes or savor multi course meals the island’s swankiest restaurants. Sicilian meals are usually served even later than in mainland Italy, especially during the hottest summer months.
Even the tasty folded calzone pizzas and arancini fried rice balls Sicilian street vendors serve are considered delicious local delicacies, often washed down with cool granita fruit juice ices on Sicily’s hot summer days. Brioches filled with ice cream are another cool summer treat served at most traditional Sicilian trattorias and cafes. Most of Palermo’s finest restaurants are located in its La Kalsa district, while the Central Station area offers the cheapest eats in the capital.
Many Sicilian meals begin with appetizers of caponata, a salad with olives, celery, capers, and eggplant. Onions, tomatoes, and occasional anchovies are the traditional toppings of sfincione, the Sicilian pizza more frequently sold in bakeries than pizzeria. Garbanzo beans are used to make creamy maccu soup or crushed into a thin panella paste. All of the tasty fish and seafood served in Sicily’s restaurants comes from the fresh daily catches of local fishermen.
Diners, however, must not forget to save room for Sicily’s world famous desserts, the best known of which may be cannoli, the tubular fried pastry shells found on the dessert menus of numerous Italian restaurants across the United States. Although bruccellati, biancomangiare and braccilatte may not be as familiar to English speaking visitors, they are no less delicious.