What to Eat in Sicily

Arancini what to eat in Sicily

Welcome to the culinary paradise of Sicily, a stunning place known for its rich history, vibrant culture, and most of all, its delectable food! 

Nestled in the heart of Italy, Sicily offers an irresistible blend of flavors and influences from various civilizations that have shaped its unique gastronomy over centuries.

In this article, we will take you on a virtual journey, exploring the iconic dishes and must-try delicacies that make eating in Sicily an unforgettable experience. So, sit back, relax, and prepare to embark on a culinary adventure through the flavors of Sicily.

1. What to Eat in Palermo

1.1 Street Food in Palermo

Street food in Palermo is a culinary experience like no other. The vibrant capital city of Sicily is known for its delectable and diverse street food options that will leave your taste buds dancing with joy.

From the world-famous “arancine”, deep-fried rice balls filled with ragù, mozzarella, and prosciutto, to the tantalizingly fragrant and flavorsome panelle, fritters made from chickpea flour that are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. 

Stroll down the bustling streets and you’ll encounter numerous food stalls and vendors selling mouthwatering treats such as sfincione, a thick and fluffy Sicilian pizza topped with tomatoes, onions, and cheese. 

A wide variety of Palermitan sandwiches can be found along the streets: among the most popular are pani ca’ meusa (sandwich with spleen), Pane Cunzato, and sandwich with octopus.

arancine sicilian street food

The best part is that you can savor these delightful street food dishes while taking in the vibrant atmosphere of Palermo, creating a truly unforgettable culinary experience.

1.2 Best Pasta in Palermo

Pasta in Palermo is a delightful culinary experience that offers a variety of traditional dishes.

One must-try specialty is pasta con le sarde, a delicious combination of pasta, fresh sardines, wild fennel, raisins, pine nuts, and saffron.

Another traditional favorite is pasta with anchovies and breadcrumbs, where pasta is paired with anchovies, breadcrumbs, garlic, and olive oil, creating a flavorful and aromatic dish.

Anelletti al forno is a baked pasta dish that features small ring-shaped pasta tossed in a rich tomato sauce with meatballs, peas, and cheese.

For a healthier option, pasta with broccoli arriminati is a perfect choice. This Sicilian dish combines pasta with tender broccoli, garlic, chili flakes, and pecorino cheese, resulting in a satisfying and nutritious meal.

Lastly, pasta con la glassa is a unique pasta dish served with a sweet and tangy glaze made from tomato paste, sugar, and vinegar, providing a delightful twist to the traditional pasta recipes Palermo has to offer.

1.3 Second Courses

When it comes to second-course dishes in Palermo, you can’t overlook the flavorful involtini alla palermitana, tender slices of beef rolled with breadcrumbs, cheese, and a hint of garlic.

Don’t miss the mouthwatering Sarde beccafico alla palermitana, where fresh sardines are stuffed with a mix of breadcrumbs, pine nuts, raisins, and aromatic herbs. 

Sarde Beccafico
Sarde Beccafico by Daniela Fran

The city is also famous for its polpette di sarde, or sardine meatballs, made from a combination of sardines, breadcrumbs, eggs, and grated pecorino cheese, resulting in a delightful and unique taste.

For meat lovers, the Cotoletta alla palermitana is an absolute must-try, with its succulent breaded veal cutlet seasoned with lemon and parsley, creating a harmonious fusion of flavors.

These second-course dishes represent the rich culinary heritage of Palermo, showcasing the city’s passion for fresh ingredients and traditional cooking techniques.

1.4 Desserts in Palermo

Palermo is especially renowned for its delectable desserts that have delighted locals and visitors alike for centuries.

Traditional Sicilian desserts like cannoli, brioche with ice cream (or granita), and cassata reign supreme in this culinary haven. They are sold all over the region – you won’t have any difficulties finding them! 

brioche con gelato
brioche con gelato by the big macaron

One of the most iconic and exquisite sweet treats found in Palermo is Frutta Martorana.

These delicate marzipan fruits, skillfully handcrafted by talented local artisans, resemble real fruits so intricately that it’s almost impossible to tell them apart. Each bite is a burst of sweetness and artistry, making them an extraordinary delicacy to savor.

Another delicious dessert dominating Palermo’s culinary scene is the Iris. Consisting of a soft and fluffy brioche bun filled with mouthwatering ricotta cream, candied fruit, and dusted with powdered sugar, this treat is a symphony of flavors and textures.

Whether indulging in the vibrant and vivid Frutta Martorana or relishing the heavenly delight of an Iris, Palermo’s desserts are sure to captivate and enchant all those who have the pleasure of tasting them.

2. What to Eat in Catania

2.1 Fish Street Food in Catania

Fish street food is a popular culinary delight in Catania, Sicily. The city is renowned for its fresh and flavorful seafood, and the street vendors in Catania capitalize on this by offering a wide range of mouthwatering fish-based snacks and dishes.

From arancini stuffed with shrimp or anchovies to crispy fried calamari, the options seem endless.

The vibrant fish market, La Pescheria (A’ Piscarìa), is the hub of all things seafood, where locals and tourists can indulge in delectable street food while immersing themselves in the lively atmosphere and rich culinary traditions of Catania.

Right at the entrance to the market is “Scirocco Sicilian Fish Lab”; a gourmet street food venue famous not only for its excellent fried squid, anchovies, and prawns but also for the fried macco sticks, battered vegetables, arancinetti with squid ink and freshly cooked fish balls.

2.2 Pasta in Catania

Catania, a beautiful city located on the eastern coast of Sicily, is known for its delectable pasta dishes.

One of the most famous and beloved pasta dishes in Catania is Pasta alla Norma. This dish is named after the opera “Norma” by local composer Vincenzo Bellini and consists of perfectly cooked pasta topped with a luscious tomato sauce, fried eggplant slices, ricotta salata, and basil. The combination of sweet tomato sauce, crispy eggplant, and tangy cheese creates an explosion of flavors in every bite. 

pasta alla norma
pasta alla norma by Katty S

Another popular pasta dish in Catania is Spaghetti alla Carrettiera. This rustic dish features al dente spaghetti tossed with garlic-infused olive oil, dried red chilies, and a generous amount of pecorino cheese. The simplicity of the ingredients allows the flavors to shine through, making this dish a favorite among both locals and visitors.

2.3 Second Courses in Catania

Catania offers a diverse range of second courses that are sure to tantalize the taste buds of adventurous food enthusiasts. One notable dish is swordfish, a popular seafood option in this coastal city. Known for its firm yet tender texture, swordfish is often grilled or pan-fried and served with a rich sauce, highlighting the unmistakable flavors of the Mediterranean Sea. 

An unconventional option that some of you might find not so intriguing is horse meat. Often prepared as thinly sliced cuts or in traditional recipes like horse meat stew, it offers a unique taste experience for those willing to explore different culinary horizons.

Since in Catania meatballs are the undisputed queen of street food and represent a valid low-cost alternative to more refined dishes, an original idea would be to try horse meat in a characteristic polpetteria (meat shop). Here you can eat various kinds of meatballs or simply have an aperitif in a charming place.

If you’re a vegetarian, no worries! Catania boasts a traditional dish called “macco di fave,” a hearty fava bean puree mixed with various seasonings such as garlic, onions, and herbs.

It is a typical soup of the feast of San Giuseppe in Ramacca, in the province of Catania. In ancient times this dish was considered “the dish of good luck” that landowners offered to all farmers to celebrate the end of the work.

Macco di fave
macco di fave by caprilemon

2.4 Desserts

Once in Catania, you cannot miss trying Minnuzze di Sant’Agata, sweet marzipan treats shaped like breasts, paying homage to the city’s beloved patron saint.

Another specialty is Olivette di Sant’Agata, olive-shaped pastries filled with almonds, pistachios, and candied fruit, symbolizing the city’s deep connection to its spiritual heritage.

Minnuzze di Sant'Agata
Minnuzze di Sant'Agata by Francesco Pappalardo

For those craving something more indulgent, the Raviola awaits, a savory fried pastry filled with ricotta cream or chocolate.

And how can we overlook the irresistible Nzuddi, delicate almond biscuits topped with icing sugar that leave you craving more? Indulging in these mouthwatering desserts in Catania is a true sensory experience, unraveling the city’s sweet identity through every delightful bite.

3. What to Eat in Syracuse, Italy

3.1 street food in Syracuse

Syracuse offers a delightful array of street food flavors and textures that are a true treat for the taste buds.

One cannot miss trying the famous Scacce, a traditional savory pastry filled with various ingredients like tomatoes, cheese, and local herbs. The Scacce is prepared with thin layers of dough that are folded and baked to golden perfection, creating a crispy crust that encases the delicious fillings.

Another must-try street food is Cucche, a popular sandwich that originated in Syracuse. These tasty creations feature a soft bun filled with tender slices of horse meat, topped with a flavorful sauce made from tomatoes, capers, and onions.

To satisfy your sweet tooth, indulge in the heavenly Pastizzetti. These small pastries are filled with a sweet and tangy filling made from ricotta cheese and candied citrus peel.

Street food in Syracuse is a feast for the senses and the soul, providing an authentic experience of the city’s rich culinary heritage.

3.2 Best Pasta in Syracuse

Syracuse has a strong culinary tradition, and pasta is an integral part of its gastronomic heritage. 

Let’s start with the pasta shapes. From the famous cavatelli, a short pasta particularly suitable for collecting tasty sauces, to ravioli, often filled with ricotta and Sicilian macaroni.

These types of pasta make up some of the typical dishes of Syracuse, like pasta with Syracuse-style sardines, enriched with Pachino tomatoes, maccheroni alla Norma – a pasta dish with fried eggplant, tomato sauce, ricotta salata, and basil, and Syracuse-style fried pasta, with garlic, anchovies, and breadcrumbs, another tasty easy-to-prepare and good-to-eat classic.

Don’t miss tasting pasta with taddi (zucchini leaves), or lolli with broad beans, a winter specialty also popular in the Ragusa area.

Quite a thing is the Moresca sauce, based on tuna bottarga, cinnamon, orange, and lemon juice. Also many fish-based dishes, a great protagonist on Syracusan tables, with pasta or in soups.

Whether you choose to dine in a cozy trattoria or explore the vibrant local food markets, the pasta in Syracuse promises to be a delightful and memorable experience for any food lover.

3.3 Second Courses

One must-try second course in Syracuse is Matalotta, a sumptuous fish stew made with a combination of freshly caught seafood, tomatoes, garlic, and aromatic herbs.

Another popular choice is Puppetti i muccu, which features tender beef rolls filled with a mouthwatering mixture of breadcrumbs, grated cheese, and various seasonings, then slow-cooked in a rich tomato sauce.

If you’re craving something more unique, Stimpirata is a standout option. This dish is a flavorful combination of vegetables, such as bell peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes, stewed with capers, olives, and anchovies for a burst of Mediterranean flavors.

Lastly, Vavaluci, traditional Sicilian fried rice balls, offer a tasty filling of meat, peas, cheese, and saffron-infused rice, all deep-fried to golden perfection.

3.4 Desserts

One sweet treat to try in Syracuse is Gghiotta, a mouthwatering pastry filled with cream and coated with chocolate icing.

A local delicacy prepared for Easter is Pupi cu l’Ovo, which consists of a fluffy brioche bun topped with a whole boiled egg, representing the abundant fertility of the land.

‘Nfigghiulati is a traditional cookie made with almonds, honey, and lemon zest, offering a delightful combination of flavors.

Cassateddi is a charming little pastry shaped like shells and filled with sheep’s milk ricotta, candied fruits, and chocolate.

The famous Totò cake, named after the famous Italian actor Totò, is a rich almond and chocolate cake.

Mucatoli are twisted cookies flavored with orange zest and cinnamon, while Mustazzoli are dense and chewy cookies made with almonds and flavored with citrus zest. In addition to these, you can find all the most popular Sicilian pastries, from cassata to cannoli to almond pastries.

3.5 Syracuse Typical Products

Typical products of Syracuse are excellent cheeses, from ricotta to primosale, provola, pecorino with peppe, and caciocavallo. The highly prized olive oil from Tonda Iblea is an omnipresent ingredient in the Syracusan cuisine and the sweet cherry tomato from Pachino is widely used in pasta dishes.

And what about the wine? In this area, the undisputed king of wines is Nero d’Avola, a typical Sicilian vine cultivated in Syracuse since ancient times.

4. What to Eat in Ragusa

4.1 Best pasta in Ragusa

Ragusa, a picturesque city located in Sicily, Italy, is renowned for its delectable culinary offerings.

You cannot miss indulging in the local specialty, cavati al sugo, which is a mouthwatering dish of homemade pasta served with a rich meat sauce.

cavati al sugo by Eugenio Schininà
cavati al sugo by Eugenio Schininà

Another Italian delicacy found in Ragusa is ravioli di ricotta. These delectable pockets of pasta filled with creamy ricotta cheese are just amazing.

If you’re looking for something savory, mpanate is a must-try. Stuffed with a combination of meat, cheese, and vegetables, it’s a delightful flavor explosion.

Lastly, capuliatu is a traditional dessert from Ragusa for those with a sweet tooth. These cherry-filled pastries are a perfect indulgence to end your culinary journey in the exquisite food scene of Ragusa, Italy.

4.2 Desserts

Let yourself be seduced by the sweet flavors: almond nougats, cubbaita, ‘mpanatigghie and macallè, and cuddureddi.

September is the month of the harvest, the pressed must end up in barrels waiting for it to become wine, and a small part is transformed into desserts.

Even today, on the days of pressing, a strong smell of cooked must emerge from Ragusa’s kitchens because they prepare mustard and cuddureddi (or lolli ‘nto mustu in Modica). These two specialties have peasant origins, in the past, they were prepared to celebrate the grape harvest.

Testa di Turco (Turk’s Heads) is a divine dessert that celebrates an important historical event, the victory of the Christians against the Saracens in 1091.

It is said that the people of Scicli and the Normans led by Ruggero D’Altavilla would have chased away the invaders only thanks to the intervention of the Madonna, who, on the back of a white horse, drawing her sword, fought alongside the Christians. According to tradition, after the Turks returned home, a turban-shaped dessert filled with ricotta was prepared.

4.3 Typical Products around Ragusa

Cioccolato Modicano
Cioccolato Modicano by Mussklprozz

Among the typical products you can find in this area are some delicious Slow Food presidia such as the exquisite Giarratana onion, the sweet Cosaruciaru bean from Scicli, and the Cottoia broad bean from Modica.

Do not forget Cioccolato di Modica, known for its distinctive texture and flavor, which sets it apart from other types of chocolate.

The recipe dates back to the Spanish domination of Sicily in the 16th century when cacao beans were first introduced to the island. No cocoa butter or milk is added during the process, making Modica chocolate gluten-free and lactose-free.

The chocolate has a distinctive appearance, usually sold in solid blocks or rough-hewn pieces, with a slightly gritty texture that melts in the mouth. It has a rich, intense flavor with hints of fruitiness and spice.

5. What to Eat in Sicily: Conclusions

From mouthwatering street food to exquisite seafood dishes, Sicilian cuisine is a true delight for the senses. Hope this article will be useful on your travel around Sicily, and my wish for you is to try all that this wonderful island has to offer!

Thanks for reading this article! Please come to visit my beautiful country:)

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