Sicily, ‘God’s kitchen’     

By Fred Steinberg
This item appears on page 14 of the December 2016 issue.
Mixed-seafood grill, including swordfish, tuna and lobster. Photo by Ging Steinberg

There are many reasons to visit Sicily, including its natural beauty and historic ruins, but for dedicated foodies like my wife, Ging, and me, who visited the island in the summer of 2015, it comes down to the bread, pizza, granita, artichokes, eggplants and, arguably, the best pastas in Italy. It’s no surprise that Sicilians often refer to their island as “God’s kitchen.” 

Many food writers identify Sicilian pizza — the thick-crust, deep-dish version — as Italy’s best national example.

Arancini (deep-fried rice balls), typically stuffed with meat, mozzarella and tomato sauce, make for an excellent, if somewhat heavy, appetizer. 

Artichokes are an island specialty, whether steamed, stuffed or in dips. Ging and I chose them and stuffed mushrooms as our standard dinner appetizers. Artichokes stuffed with seafood and bread crumbs were our favorite.  

Each region in Sicily seems to have its bread specialty. Locals are very proud of their breads and, if asked, will usually direct or even take you to their favorite bakery. 

For entrées, most good restaurants feature a wide variety of pastas, with swordfish being the most popular seafood of choice among locals. Pasta alla Norma, featuring tomato and stuffed eggplant, is also popular, as is seafood stew. Other dishes feature local sardines, tuna and cod. 

For dessert, cannoli stuffed with ricotta, mascarpone cream and granita (a whipped, semifrozen treat that resembles a cross between sorbet and Italian ice) are most popular.

Local wines, including Etna Rosso and Bianco d’Alcamo, are excellent and very reasonably priced. A split of a good selection can run as little as 4 (near $4.50).

Just around the corner from the Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa (, our hotel (Oct. ’16, pg. 12), we dined one evening at Casa del Brodo (Corso Vittorio Emanuele 175, Palermo, Sicily; phone +39 091 321 655,

 We started with an excellent local Prosecco, just 6 for a full bottle, accompanied by a 12-item antipasto buffet (9). Our entrées of pasta with swordfish and stuffed eggplant were excellent. Dessert was a refreshing, small, 3-flavor sampling of the chunky, Palermo version of granita. Our total bill for two was just under 80.

It was our best Sicilian meal.


Riverside, CT