Helen Burge, communications & marketing manager of Baker & Cook, shares her insights to this delicious city.
Italy is somewhere we love to visit as a family, mostly because food is a large part of where we go. If we could, Italy would be on our list of countries we want to visit every year. Our family is vegetarian, and what I appreciate about Italy is how well it lends itself to doing vegetarian food. Italian food is built upon simple, unadulterated fresh produce grown locally. Even simple dishes like a Caprese salad, for instance, shines with just three main ingredients.
It’s also a great place for family trips; we find Italian people very laidback and accommodating to children when it comes to dining. Be it at a local café, or a three Michelin-starred restaurant, kids are warmly welcomed (and not given that suspicious side-eye by a sharp-suited staff).
Here are some of our best finds on our recent trip to Sicily.
1. O’SCIALITY - FOR GREAT GELATO
Piazza Antonio Abate, 11, 98039 Taormina ME, Italy
Taormina is considered the most celebrated town in Sicily because of its natural beauty. We stumbled upon this fantastic gelato shop while we were exploring the town by foot, and seeking cool respite from the warm weather. What caught our eye were the towering layers of gelato, piled high with plenty of fresh ingredients like nuts and fruits. The kids loved the pistachio that came with fresh nuts, while I enjoyed the espresso gelato that was not so sweet, and came with whole coffee beans that were great to nibble on.
2. FRATELLI BURGIO - FOR PEOPLE-WATCHING
Piazza Cesare Battisti, 4, 96100 Siracusa SR, Italy
We were shopping the market when I spotted this produce store that is my name sake! Besides selling homemade pestos & preserved vegetables, this store also does amazing cold cuts, cheeses, really simple salads and wines. We loved the vegetable platter, with cured vegetables, cheese, pickles and bread. I also picked up some inspiration for my salad class at the Baking & Cooking School — using orange segments with capers, mint and sherry vinegar for really amazing flavours together.
3. CAFFÉ SICILIA – FOR THE BEST CANNOLI AND GRANITA
Corso Vittorio Emanuele, 125, 96017 Noto SR, Italy
This family-run café has been open since 1892, and came highly recommended by chef Lino Sauro of Gattopardo in Singapore. Lino incidentally will be doing a Sicilian cannoli class at our Baking & Cooking School on 23 June, Saturday. This sweet pastry is usually served with pastry cream and a sprinkle of sugar, but the snack here is famous all over Italy because it is filled with ricotta cheese, dipped in cinnamon sugar and served with a sprinkle of fresh pistachios. I also enjoyed the espresso granita and orange brioche dessert. It’s an unusual pairing that goes really well together!
4. DUOMO RISTORANTE – FOR THE MOST CHILD-FRIENDLY MICHELIN STAR EXPERIENCE
Ibla, Via Capitano Bocchieri, 31, 97100 Ragusa RG, Italy
Touted as the best restaurant in Sicily. I was quite nervous about taking my two children to this two- Michelin-starred restaurant, but this was another recommendation by chef Lino and I didn’t want to miss it. So we put on our fancy dresses to try the degustation set menu here. What I loved most about this restaurant was my girls were served the same vegetarian menu as me — no kids’ menu here; the children are treated equally like adults —and they finished every bite! The food here is traditional Italian fare, plated beautifully. You’ll find familiar dishes like pastas and risottos, with gelato for dessert. Wines here are sourced from the local area as well, which is a great touch.