There are few other cuisines as popular as the Italian one. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t ever tried pizza, pasta or tiramisu. And most people love it too! So imagine my excitement at finally having the opportunity to taste the real deal. No interpretations, no shortcuts, the real Italian food right from the source.
If you ask me what I liked most I will probably give you a less popular answer: prosciutto, olives and limoncello. I could have lived off of that! But that doesn’t mean I didn’t have the most wonderful pizza, bruschetta or pasta while there.
Since we only stayed in Taormina, I can only recommend good eats in that area, but I am sure Sicily has amazing flavours wherever you’d go. So let’s start with the beginning.
1. Villa Zuccaro Taormina
On our first evening there we asked our host to recommend a few places where to eat. This was her first recommendation and we were so happy we went there. The setting was so romantic with large and small tables in a beautiful garden beautifully adorned by lemon trees.
We chose a small table in a quiet corner, ordered to pizzas and the house wine and loved it! I had a pizza Regina di Bronte with prosciutto crudo, mozzarella and pistachio cream. I think my boyfriend had the Diavola one, but I can’t remember exactly. They were both delicious and the wine amazing: I had Rose and he has Nero d’Avola.
2. Lido Pigna
When in Mazzaro, we were recommended the Barcagiolo restaurant. But it had a weird timetable and we were never able to get there at the right time. So we settled for Lido di Pigna and didn’t regret it.
I had to try the traditional Sicilian pasta with tomato, eggplant and salty ricotta. But my boyfriend hit the jackpot with pistachio and prawn gnocchi – amazing! The view wasn’t bad either 🙂
3. Tiramisu Ristaurante
Dinner usually found us too tired to search for a new restaurant, so we settled for something nearby: bruschettas at Tiramisu Ristaurante. They were perfect for a light dinner and so close to our accommodation that we kept coming back in the evenings.
4. Da Cristina
Da Cristina was a miss for me. Everyone recommended the arancini here, and the place was beautiful. But I really didn’t like arancini at all – way to heavy and greasy for me. And the pizza here had nothing to do with all the lovely pizza we had everywhere else.
Should you give it a try? Maybe – if you have a strong stomach. I wouldn’t recommend it and wouldn’t go back.
5. Vecchia Taormina
We got to Vecchia Taormina on a late afternoon, when we were hot and desperately looking for an open restaurant. Apparently all restaurant are closed after noon, so if you want a late lunch, tough luck!
However we managed to find this rare gem on another small street and we had a delicious meal. I had a Sicilian fish, with potatoes and olives – light and good! And my boyfriend had some really tasty grilled meatballs with baked potatoes – so good! We definitely recommended wether you want a late lunch or not. It reminded us a little of the Greek food we love so much.
6. Alcantara Gorge Cafeteria
This spot was a big surprise! After a hike through the Alcantara Gorge we were so hungry that we could have eaten anything. So we grabbed a couple of slices of pizza and some some ravioli. The pizza was mediocre but the ravioli, a dream! They had a cream and walnut sauce so delish we had to go for a second serving.
1. Bam Bar
Bam Bar was definitely my favorite place in Taormina. It took us a while to get there as it is tucked away on a small street and never bumped into it. But once I had my first taste of almond granita I was in heaven! The cold, sweet (but not too sweet!) desert is perfect served with a dollop of cream, a brioche and a coffee on a hot afternoon. Or morning. Or evening.
We also tried the peach granita and it was so fresh and light. You could actually feel the peaches inside. Amazing! The only regret I have is not going more often so I could try each and every option. But then there’s always the temptation of having almond granita every time…
2. Pasticceria d’Amore
We had our first breakfast at the apartment we had rented: toast, prosciutto crudo, olives, cheese and coffee. Nothing better! But on our way to explore the city we bumped over Pasticceria d’Amore and we couldn’t miss the opportunity to try our first cannoli. My boyfriend fell in love with them! I think pistachio were his favorite. I thought they were ok, but would much rather prefer the marzipan.
3. La Pignolata Guinness Cannoli
We bumped over La Pignolata Guiness Cannoli while shopping for groceries at a supermarket nearby. And as my boyfriend was keen on trying each cannoli he could find we made a pit stop here too. I can’t say the cannoli here were different to the others, but they were good and definitely worth a try.
4. Mennula Sicilian Bakery
At every turn in Taormina there’s a new bakery where you can buy cannoli or any other Italian/Sicilian sweet treat you can think of. Mennula looked fancy and oh, so attractive – we had to go in.
It was really hard choosing only a few of them, so that we didn’t overdo it, but the little cannolo, cassata and almond/pistachio cookie were delicious.
I think for such a small town Taormina has a lot to offer for foodies. From something you can buy at a neighbourhood grocery store to feast on back in the room, to fancy restaurant, there’s something for every taste.
As I said in the beginning, I mostly loved buying cold cuts, cheese, olives, tomatoes and grapes from a store nearby. They made for a lovely breakfast on the terrace next to a cup of coffee. Or a very romantic and intimate dinner with a nice glass of wine or limoncello. But if dinning out is more your style, there are plenty of options. Just remember to ask the locals for recommendations. It will help avoid tourist traps and find those hidden gems, well tucked away from the hustle and bustle of tourist groups.