Myself and my wife are visiting Sicily for two weeks later this month. We will be spending time in Palermo, Cephalu, Syracuse, and Catania Has anyone in this community got any recommendations for restaurants and any wine experiences? Need to start booking stuff. Really appreciate any help in this.
Last year my wife and I went on a Sicilian food and wine tour with Esplora.
My best memory in the cties that you mention is a restaurant called La Galleria behind the Duomo in Palermo.
Going in a group one probably goes to different establishments to those when one goes privately but I suggest looking at tour companies’ itineraries to get some ideas.
Can’t contribute but watching this thread with interest as planning a trip in June!
Not actually in those cities, but we enjoyed a stay at Azienda Agricola COS - near Vittoria in the SE - including the food and the wine. Also a no frills seafood restaurant in the same area, on the coast, called Sakalleo. Both can be readily googled. But it depends very much what you are after - there is plent to chose from.
I can recommend Camuto’s book “Palmento: A Sicillian Wine Odessy”. He describes both the places I mentioned, and a lot more.
My friend used to live in Sicily. I went to visit her and her boyfriend and stayed on a beautiful orange grove. Most of what I remember involved the beach, Mount Etna, all night clubbing (In the biggest outdoor nightclub I have EVER seen) and generally feeling hot an dsticky. (It was August).
I would recommend heading to the Elephant square in Catania and visiting the market but apart from that Ive no other tips .
Can’t help you with any wineries, off limits when I was there !
But can help with a couple of restaurants where you are staying.
In Taormina, not far from Syracuse the brilliant by the sea at Mazzaro, Il Barcaiolo
but you will need to book in advance by a few days.
In Syracuse in the lovely Ortigia district there are a couple I can recommend
Bistro Bella Vita, nice cafe with dining at the rear
Via Gargallo 60
and also in Ortigia
also high class.
Can’t give any others as they were all in small towns and villages elsewhere, fabulous island and the interior landscape is stunning.
Different cuisine from the rest of Italy less pasta more rice and the arab influences especially the desserts.
I’d recommend John Julius Norwich’s very readable history of the island - v easy to read and makes the whole place even more interesting. Food there is so good, especially seafood, that you can’t go wrong - follow your nose!
"I’d recommend John Julius Norwich’s very readable history of the island "
Totally agree, sadly there are no restaurant or wineries recommendations in it, but for the history unbeatable.
Indeed, but I’d contend that a great thing about Sicily and Puglia (and probably lots of other bits of Italy outside the tourist hotspots) is that you really don’t need restaurant recommendations - the food and value for money are that good!
What a shame that’s no longer so in France where there are lots of pretty dull restaurants these days, and it really pays to do homework.
For vineyards however you’ll need homework. Pretty sure there were discussions of this on the wine-pages forum that can be searched. I’m a fan of Cos, but there are lots of interesting wine makers there now!
I agree entirely. I mentioned COS mainly down to personal experience from staying there, and because it might be handy en route to Syracuse, and for the food.
I wanted to be helpful, but it is difficult sometimes to know how to respond without simply generating a list of well-regarded producers that could be found relatively easily online. For me, Etna is probably the most fascinating wine region on the island, but I would find it difficult to select producers good to visit, especially if based in Catania.
On a more general note, I found it very difficult to book producer visits on websites and by email. Most queries are simply ignored. I don’t think they want to be unwelcoming - it is more that Sicillians much prefer to use phone for communication
I’ve never been to Sicily, but have completely fallen in love with wines made by Planeta. They got vineyard sites spread over the island, so maybe worth looking into:
My tone of voice was lost in a hasty post. I meant I like and find Cos wines really interesting but there are lots of other interesting wine makers there that I don’t know about - it was a humble point, without reference to the earlier mention of Cos. I can see it could have looked otherwise - apologies.
No apology needed at all. I read your post in the spirit you intended, and just wanted to say I agreed. But it was possible to misconstrue my post , and wanted to clarify that my two reccos, though heartfelt, were based on limited personal experience, and in one part of the island.
I visited Sicily (Noto and Syracuse) last September and fell in deep love with their wine. I recommend:
Enoteca Solaria (wine shop with some food) on Ortigia island on Syracuse - great price for a wide collection of the best of Sicilian wines.
Do try to visit Frank Cornelissen’s wine. His wine is controversial but I am a big fan having trying it at a restaurant called Manna in Noto (which is a very good fine dining restaurant for Sicilian wine). You can contact him directly to arrange a visit (he is based north of Mount Etna: https://www.frankcornelissen.it/estate-visits/) I didn’t go but my friends went and were very impressed.
Hope you have an amazing trip!
Wow! Thank you all so much! This is really a wonderful community. I will definitely be checking these out.
If you can venture south of Palermo, Hotel/Restaurant Da Vittorio is tremendous and Giorgio Locatelli’s favourite place. Marco de Bartoli near Trapani is well worth a visit for a tasting.
We also stay on Etna’s northern slopes, near Randazzo and can recommend San giorgio e el Dragone restaurant in Randazzo plus the iconic Cave Ox a few miles east, where Sandro has a magnificent list and his wife cooks amazing local grub (Pizza in the evenings).
I highly recommend you visit Taormina north of Syracuse. Visit the San Domenico Palace hotel which is an old monastery perched on top of a hill about 200 m above the sea. They have an excellent selection of local wines by the glass, especially the wines which come from the volcanic soils of Mount Etna. My wife and I have been there twice, once over St Valentine’s Day where we enjoyed the special menu for €36 (5 years ago). The wine waiter if not busy will give you a running commentary of all the Sicilian wines is. His English is perfect. If you can afford it try to spend a night. It is a highly unusual 5 star experience.
Fantastic wine tasting last year when we stayed at Mt. Etna. Wineries to recommend:
Frank Cornelissen - great wines and tour, he does not sell wines on premise but they are very good.
Tenuta delle Terre Nere Winery, Contrada Calderara, 95036 Randazzo CT, Italy - great wines. If you visit ask for Kristian Listro (he is a sales manager and tell him George from London sent you.
BIONDI Azienda Agricola, Via Ronzini, 55a, 95039 Trecastagni CT, Italy
BENANTI, Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, 361, 95029 Viagrande CT, Italy
Stayed a great castle/wine hotel Hotel Feudo Vagliasindi, SP89, 95036 Randazzo CT, Italy. It was great value and owned showed us his cellar.
Let me know if you have questions!
+1 for Feudo Vagliasindi with the bonus of fantastic views over Etna and a lovely pool.
I’d add Passopisciaro as a lovely winery to visit. Re Cornelissen, you’ve got to love very natural (sic) wines to enjoy his. I’m not a fan!