Set in the heartland of Sicily, Caltagirone has been beckoning lovers of Sicilian pottery for centuries. The name derives from the Arabic word for “Castle of Pottery Jars”, “qal’at-al-jarar”. Home to Sicilian Ceramics, this lovely baroque city is also home to some excellent restaurants. There is also a place that I must recommend on the outskirts of the city, an easy taxi ride.
Il Locandiere Caltagirone. Don’t expect fancy. Expect great food!
Within an easy walk of the most famous Cathedral in the city, Santa Maria del Monte, this unassuming restaurant serves up incredible Sicilian fresh fish and meat dishes with recipes which reflect the diverse cultural weave of the island-from Greek to Arabic to Spanish to French.
In a word? Go. I do recommend reservations. If you are staying in Caltagirone, or in the nearby villages or hills, this is absolutely a place to reserve and dine.
Via Don Luigi Sturzo, 55, 95041 Caltagirone CT, Italy
Phone: +39 0933 58292
Call head for opening hours.
Imagine the warmth of the fire at Rustico accompanied by fabulous food
A short twelve-minute taxi ride from Caltagirone, or a rental car trip, west of the city you will come to the small village of San Michele di Ganzaria. Out of the way, a bit remote and a bit daunting…let me tell you, the Ristorante Rustico in the Hotel Pomara (watch for signs on the buildings on your left as you enter the village) is worth every minute of the trip.
I’ve been enjoying meals at this place for more than ten years. Never have I been disappointed. The wait staff is animated, they love American visitors, appreciate our kind words about this food (as if we couldn’t say anything BUT good!) and offer meals from the wood fired grill and kitchen that will delight your senses.
They offer a great local wine selection as well-and if you stay at the hotel you can stumble…I mean walk…up the short hill to your rooms with little difficulty, satiated and ready for a great night’s rest.
If you are in the Caltagirone area and are looking for a clean and safe place to stay, the Pomara is a great destination hotel.
Loc. San Michele di Ganzaria
Via Vittorio Veneto, 84
Entrance to Ristorante Don Camillo Ortygia, Siracusa
Since 1985, Don Camillo has been preparing exceptional meals for discerning diners in Siracusa.
Truth be told, this restaurant is on the island of Ortygia, the location of the first Greek colony on this part of Sicily. The island received its name, it is believed, from the ancient Greek word for Quail which, apparently, inhabited the island in abundance.
Speaking of abundance, with a sixteen page menu you can imagine the nearly limitless options you have for meals at Camillo.
Dining Room at Don Camillo, Ortygia Siracusa
Some examples: Appetizers: Filet of Grouper with Powdered “Matallota” sauce: Filet of Tuna with a Marmalade of Peppers. Primi: Spaghetti of the Sirens with Shrimp and Sea Urchin or Lamb Cutlet in a potato crust with spicy sauce of Spring Onion and Saffron. Secondi offerings? Sword Fish with Honey and Sour Vegetables or Wild Black Nebrodi Mountains Pork Chop in Nero d’Avola wine sauce and sour pears…Madonna mia, what a feast awaits those lucky enough to enjoy a meal at this fabulous restaurant.
Via delle Maestranze, 96, 96100 Siracusa SR, Italy
Phone: +39 0931 67133
Hours: 09:30AM – 2:30PM and 7:30PM – 10:30PM//CLOSED SUNDAY
Choices, choices. The first of three restaurants listed here provides an easy and simple ambience with great food, the second offers a lovely city center romantic and refined atmosphere and dining experience, and the third offers breathtaking views with great food; it all depends on what you wish to enjoy in concert with your meal, great conversation and excellent wine.
The first, Trattoria dei Templi, attracts a large tourist crowd at lunch, but in the evening, the greatly reduced crowds and easy ambiance of the interior provide the perfect setting for a delightful meal. The location, close to the city walls of Agrigento, provides for easy access.
The Trattoria offers typical local fare at an exceptionally affordable price point; the locals eat here and that is always a sign to me that the food is very good and the prices are more than fair. Try the vino di tavola by the 1/2 liter or full liter, depending on your group size and don’t forget to ask about the specials of the day from your wait staff.
Trattoria dei Templi, Agrigento
Trattoria dei Templi
Via Panoramica Valle dei Templi, 15, 92100 Agrigento AG, Italy
Phone: +39 0922 403110
Hours: 12:30PM – 3:00PM and 7:30PM to 11:00PM
Ristorante Kalos Dining Room
Another option, Ristorante Kalos, is located in the center of Agrigento at the intersection of the Piazzetta San Calogero and Via Atenea, not far from the Centrale train station. There is a lovely Italian word often used to describe the atmosphere and food; raffinato, refined. This memorable restaurant offers that kind of feel in abundance. The atmosphere is intimate, quiet and ‘raffinato’. Fresh seafood, taken daily from the nearby coast below Agrigento and Kaos (home of the Sicilian playwright Luigi Pirandello), is offered in various recipes and the continually changing seasons bring a varied a menu as you can find in southern Sicily.
Salita Filino, 1, 92100 Agrigento AG, Italy
Phone:+39 0922 26389
Hours: 12:00 Noon – 3:00PM and 7:00PM – 11:00PM//CLOSED MONDAY
Ristorante Il Re del Girgenti
Ristorante Il Re del Girgenti
Via Panoramica Valle dei Templi, 51, 92100 Agrigento AG, Italy
Phone: +39 0922 401388
Hours: 11:30AM – 3:00PM and 8:00PM to 11:30PM//CLOSED TUESDAY
Taormina has been affectionately named the “Portofino of Sicily”. Attracting the yacht crowd in summer, the lanes of this gorgeous picturesque village above Giardini Naxos (arrival point of the Greeks in 734 BC) offer shopping, views and wonderful restaurants.
This short list of three restaurants, much like those provided for Agrigento, offer various kinds of dining experiences, price points and terrace views.
This small place is a delight. Be sure to request a terrace view table when you reserve for dinner-strongly recommended. The views down to the sea and, on clear evenings, over to the mainland of Italy are unforgettable. The seven page menu changes often and offers fresh seafood as its specialty.
The restaurant is very easy to find; walk in from the Porta Messina and you will find L’Incontro at #20 Via Luigi Pirandello in the village.
Via Luigi Pirandello, 20, 98039 Taormina ME, Italy
Hours: 12:00 Noon – 3:00PM and 6:00PM – 10:30PM//CLOSED TUESDAY
Views, views, views. This is what draws so many visitors to Taormina and there is no question that the views from Ristorante Al Saraceno are part of its allure. Located on a terrace above the main part of the village, this restaurant matches the views with remarkable food. While the name might fool you with the word “Pizzeria” in the mix, don’t be mislead. This place offers great Sicilian seafood and specialties worthy of the location.
The View from Al Saraceno with Mt. Etna in the distance
Their seafood is as fresh as it can be and the preparations offer a wonderful balance between European and north African spices, special touches by the chef and exceptional side dishes.
Without question, reserve in advance and request a terrace view table!
Via Madonna della Rocca, 16/18, 98039 Taormina ME
Tel +39 0942 63 20 15
Hours: 11:00AM – 3:00PM and 6:00PM to 12:00AM Midnight//NO CLOSE DATE
Osteria Nero D’Avola
Okay. There has to be one splurge in the mix. The Osteria is a justifiably famous place for great meals. Located just off of the Piazza San Domenico. Located very close to the most famous hotel in Taormina of the same name (San Domenico Palace), this place offers a rooftop terrace with views and some outstanding food. The prices are a bit steep, yet so are many other places in Taormina.
Osteria Nero D’Avola
The name of this restaurant pays homage to the most famous grape (and wine) of Sicily, the Nero D’Avola. The menu is varied and offers unusual delicacies like White Olives marinated in olive oil from the Sicilian Baroque city of Noto, fresh anchovies prepared in lemon juice, olive oil and spices (don’t say ‘No’ until you have tried them!) and fresh lamb chop marinated in Nero D’Avola and served with local vegetables. Incredible.
Reservations strongly advised, especially in season (June – September).
Osteria Nero D’Avola
Piazza San Domenico, 2, 98039 Taormina ME, Italy
AND A FINAL TREAT – For those who have read this entire article, a special dessert from one of the restaurants listed in this blog. Can you guess which one?
Tort made with fresh chocolate, pistachios from Bronte-Italy’s famous city of pistachios, and fresh orange marmalade. Talk about HEAVEN!