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Most of these restaurants are open evenings, and some serve lunch, too. In Sicily the luncheon hour starts around 1:00 PM, and dinner is usually served from around 8:00. Many restaurants are closed Mondays, and trattorias, less formal restaurants which don't always serve evening meals, are usually closed Sundays. Pizzerias usually serve dinner but not lunch. Wine bars and ice cream & pastry bars are listed elsewhere. (For this rstaurant list we've divided the city along Via Cavour, the street that runs from the Teatro Massimo to the sea, defining the east side, including Piazza Olivella, the "old" city and the west side the "Via Libertà" area.)
Zafferano. Specialising in seafood, this restaurant off Via Libertà offers an intimate setting in the middle of town yet secluded from the noise of the main squares. €40 per person. Via XII Gennaio 8.
Biondo. Pizzas and pastas in an informal setting off Via Libertà. €15 per person for pizza with a beer. Via N. Garzilli 21 at Via Carducci.
Lo Sparviero. Mostly pizza, in an informal rustic setting a few steps away from the Teatro Massimo opera house. €14 per person for pizza and a beverage. Via Sperlinga 23, behind La Rinascente department store.
Pipì Room. On a street parallel to Via Libertà (toward the south), this charming little restaurant specializes in pizza, pasta and a few meat and fish courses. The grilled seafood is exceptional. About €25 per person. Open evenings. Via XX Settembre 59.
Cin-Cin. It's hidden down a flight of steps behind a gate on Via Manin, off Via Libertà between the Politeama opera house and the English Garden (Giardino Inglese). The setting is serene and elegant, the cuisine aristocratic "Baroque." The beef fillet in brandy is exquisite, and the pasta with urchin sauce is not to be missed. Dinner averages about €40.00 per person (with wine). Open evenings, all year. Reservations are required (ristorantecincin.com). Major credit cards are accepted. Via Manin 22.
La Bufalaccia. This charming pizzeria located midway to Monreale offers a more refined atmosphere - and better pizza - than most restaurants of this kind. Evenings only, closed Monday. A pizza and drink averages €15. Corso Calatafimi 740. Reservations are suggested. LaBufalaccia.It
Il Cambusone. An interesting eatery in that it is a very rustic ambience in the middle of the city. Cuisine is very Sicilian and there is often a buffet. Open most evenings and sometimes for lunch. Meals average €40. Piazza Verdi 25 (behind Teatro Massimo).
Spinnato. Stylish but affordable café-style eatery offering tasty lunches (in a central part of the city where finding restaurants that serve lunch is next to impossible). Salads and cold plates, baked pasta with beef or aubergines (eggplant), rice balls (arancine) and even sfincione (a cheeseless Sicilian pizza). The bresaola (cured beef slices) served on a bed of fresh endive and arugula, with slices of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and seasoned with olive oil and lemon, is a timeless favourite. Outdoor service in warmer months, when the ice cream is fantastic. Get there between 12:30 and 1:00 to avoid the cowd. €20 per person. Via Principe di Belmonte 117.
Di Martino. This restaurant with plenty of outdoor seating is perfect for an informal lunch. Their specialty are sandwiches made from the most delicious salamis, hams and cheeses. Best for lunches but they're open evenings too. €12. Via Mazzini 52 off Via Libertà.
Dima's Late Night Pizza and Sandwiches. Dima's isn't too special for atmosphere. Truth be told, their pizzas, though delicious, aren't necessarily superior to those served elsewhere in Palermo, a town distinguished for its pizza. What makes Dima's special --at least for a Sicilian restaurant-- is their hours. They're open from early evening until about 3 in the morning. Great for a midnight snack when your hotel's restaurant is closed. Dima's is centrally located on Via E. Amari 108 near Via Roma and the Politeama theatre. They deliver in central Palermo. Just have somebody who speaks Italian ring them up. They're usually closed Mondays.
Gagini. Traditional Sicilian fare in a refined but relaxed setting whose arches and stone walls resemble those of a castle. The "updated" Sicilian specialties haven't changed much in two or three centuries. The food is complemented by an exceptional wine list. On a street leading to the Vucceria street market from the Cala harbor, near Piazza Marina. Lunch and dinner every day but reservations preferred. About €40.00 per person. Major credit cards are accepted. Via Cassari 35. (GaginiRestaurant.Com)
Focacceria di San Francesco. In warmer months there's outdoor table service of the "Baroque" menu of creative seafood and pasta dishes in Piazza San Francesco, dominated by a Romanesque-Gothic thirteenth-century church. In winter there's dining inside, with an emphasis on delicious --and less pricey-- folksy Sicilian specialties such as pane con la milza (spleen sandwiches), sfincione (thick Sicilian pizza), caponata (aubergine salad). San Francesco is something of a local institution. From €20 per person. Lunch and dinner. Via Paternostro 58.
Palazzo Trabucco. Traditional Sicilian and Italian specialties and a good wine list. Trabucco has a nice eighteenth-century atmosphere with outdoor seating in summer. We like this restaurant for its direct, simple approach to preparing and serving exceptional food. The grilled lamb chops are a welcome change in what is essentially a fish-and-seafood town. Dinner averages €30 per person. Via Bottai 24 near Piazza Marina.
Osteria dei Vespri. This is one of those places that re-creates Sicilian specialties by adding a contemporary twist to traditional favourites. The pasta in sauce of Nebrodi Swine (a Sicilian variety of pork) is delicious. Delightful atmosphere with outdoor seating in summer. Evenings. Dinner averages €40 per person. Piazza Croce dei Vespri 6 in Palazzo Gangi across from the Modern Art Museum, at the end of Via Sant'Anna, an extension of Discesa dei Giudici.
Trattoria La Cambusa. Located on the edge of Piazza Marina near the Garraffo fountain, Cambusa offers a varied menu to suit just about every taste, with outdoor seating in warm weather --though this part of the square can be a bit noisy. Lunches and dinners from around €25. Piazza Marina 16.
Il Carretto. You'll find this charming little restaurant behind the apse of the cathedral, at the beginning of a narrow street off the square. Lunches and dinners based on pizza or pasta from around €20. Salita Artale 5.
Kursaal Kalhesa. Located along the old city wall (Mura delle Cattive) between the Greek Gate (Porta dei Greci) and Via Lincoln, this restaurant, built in an old Catalonian Gothic palace, has a garden-terrace overlooking Piazza Kalsa, centre of what used to be the Arab quarter. One enters through a door in the medieval wall, passing through the bookstore/lounge area to reach the restaurant upstairs. Good seasonal menu and ample wine list. The chicken breast Marsala is recommended, also the artichoke-filled ravioli in shrimp sauce. Meals average around €45 per person; a 10% service charge is added to the final bill. Dinner only (served beginning at 8:30), closed Sunday. Foro Umberto Primo 121.
Corvo dei Beati Paoli. Located in Piazza Marina near the Steri Castle and the Garibaldi Gardens (next to La Fenice), this is mostly a pizzeria, and of the thirty varieties "capricciosa," topped with ham, cheese and artichokes, is the most typically Sicilian. But they also offer lamb and seafood, as well as pasta and some creative salads. Inside, the dark stone walls create a faintly rustic atmosphere, but outdoor seating is also available most of the year. (On Saturdays in summer get there early, a bit before 8, if you don't want to wait for a table.) About €15 per person for pizza (with a beverage and appetizer), €30 for meals with main courses. Dinner only. Piazza Marina 50.
Café Latino. Like Spinnato, one of the few places to sit down and enjoy a light, informal lunch or snack in central Palermo. Table service. Open during the day for breakfast and lunch, closed evenings. Corso Vittorio Emanuele 276 between the Quattro Canti and Via Roma.
Kaleido. Like Latino (above), a great place for a quick, informal lunch or snack in central Palermo. There are tables but no waiters. Open during the day for breakfast and lunch, closed evenings. Corso Vittorio Emanuele 446 near the cathedral.
La Vecchia Strada. You'll find this charming eatery tucked into a narrow street branching off Via Roma near the main post office, almost across from Piazza San Domenico. The pork chops in a Nero d'Avola wine sauce were exceptional. In spring there's spaghetti in urchin sauce, another Sicilian specialty. About €25 per person for a meal that includes a main course. Dinner only. Via Monteleone 34.
Pizzeria Italia. Good selection of pizzas in a quiet setting (inside) despite the noise and chaos of the narrow street. A meal (pizza and beer) runs to around €12. Via Orologio 54.
La Traviata. Tunisian specialties such as couscous. Averages €20 per person. Lunch and dinner. Piazza Olivella at Via Spinuzza and the narrow Vicolo Carino.
Pelledoca. A few steps from Trabucco and Cambusa (above) is Pelledoca, by local standards slightly eccentric because, in addition to pizza, they specialize in chicken on a skewer served with potatoes --usually a take-away food. Sicilian restaurants hardly ever serve poultry, which here in Sicily is considered a very domestic and even "undignified" dish for historical reasons too complex to explain here. Flavoured with Sicilian spices, this regional specialty is delicious. The clientele is almost exclusively local, and there's outdoor seating in warm weather. Evenings only; get there by 8 if you want a seat or a chicken, which runs out by 9. About €12 per person for a half-chicken with potatoes and a beer. Via Bottai 33 at Piazza Marina.
Il Proverbio. Located on a street leading from the Martorana and Santa Caterina to Via Roma, this rustic, slightly "tourist-ish" trattoria is (like Pelledoca above) a slightly "eccentric" choice because we don't usually review restaurants of this type. That said, it does traditional Sicilian specialties well, offers comfortable seating and affordable prices, and --unlike many restaurants in Palermo-- it's open for lunch even on most Sundays. Not a "tourist trap," however, as it's equally popular with Palermitans and visitors. Set ('fixed') menus from around €20. Discesa dei Giudici 24.
Trattoria del Pesce Fresco. Another "eccentric" selection --this one in the Kalsa district-- is open for lunch and dinner from May through September, including most Sundays, with outdoor seating (there is actually no indoor dining area) along a pedestrian walk near the coast. At times you can smell the roasting seafood and fish (which is all they serve) just walking past the tables. The menu is based on daily seafood specials. Complete meals, with wine or beer, average €35. Foro Umberto Primo (Foro Italico) number 3, a few steps from the Porta Felice gate in the nearby Mura delle Cattive (or 'Spanish') wall facing the shore.
Al Ferro di Cavallo. The 'Horseshoe' trattoria, located in what (2,000 years ago) used to be the bed of the Papireto River along a Phoenician wall, is a good choice for lunch. Their couscous is especially good. The menu embraces a wide range of Palermitan specialties, and the place is popular with locals from every social class. €25 per person, based on a daily menu. Via Venezia 30 off Via Roma near Corso Vittorio Emanuele.
Piazza Olivella - Home of the Kebab. Hidden from the eyes of the casual tourists walking the main streets, this is one of Palermo's most popular informal spots during the warmer months --and that's most of the year. It's not one restaurant but over thirty in and around the square near the archeological museum and San Filippo Neri Church, within the rectangle formed by Via Cavour, Via Roma and Via Maqueda, near the Teatro Massimo. Instead of reviewing a particular restaurant in the small but fascinating Olivella district, we'd like to mention that about three dozen dining places, wine bars and pubs are located in the square itself and also along Via Orologio, Via Bara all'Olivella, Via Spinuzza and the surrounding streets. Open evenings beginning around 8, with outdoor tables year round, many of the restaurants offer hot sandwiches and other delicious specialties with a Middle Eastern flavour --especially turkey-meat souvlaki platters (shown here) which they call kebabs, made with (among other things) lettuce, radicchio, carrots, cucumbers, onions and yogurt sauce. Good beers too. La Corrida, at the corner of Via Orologio, also serves pizza. The wine bars and (Italian-style) pubs are charming and reasonably affordable, with longer hours. Kebab plates and salads from about €6.00, bottled imported beers from about €4.00, Sicilian vintage wines (by the bottle) from around €10.00. It's crowded on Friday and Saturday evenings, when you should arrive just before 8 unless you want to wait for a table.
Dietro l'Angolo. In a town known for its many pizzerias, this restaurant, hidden down a narrow street behind the apse of Monreale's cathedral, does them exceptionally well, with chunky toppings. The meat and pasta is excellent too. The beef filet made with Marsala wine is delicious. In cooler months the dining room provides a comfortable atmosphere, and in warmer weather the upstairs terrace offers a panoramic view of Palermo and cool breezes when the city below is steaming hot. Pizza (with a beer or soft drink) from about €15 per person. Meals with main courses from an affordable €25. Lunch and dinner. Via Piave 5, Monreale.
Il Trogoletto Ristorantino. Located right behind the cathedral and town hall along the street for Palermo, this is an exceptional little restaurant and wine bar with a good selection of Sicilian specialties and wines, as well as assorted cheeses and salames to accompany the latter if you're visiting just to try a Nero d'Avola. Very nice, intimate setting. From €25. Lunch and dinner. Via S. D'Acquisto 28, Monreale.
La Bufalaccia. This charming pizzeria located outside Monreale on the road to Palermo offers a more refined atmosphere - and better pizza - than most restaurants of this kind. Evenings only, closed Monday. A pizza and drink averages €15. Corso Calatafimi 740. Reservations are suggested. LaBufalaccia.It
Gelato della Piazzetta. Best ice cream in town; in fact, some of the best in the whole Palermo area. A great choice following lunch or dinner in one of the restaurants reviewed here. Via Roma 91, Monreale.
Peppino. This rather elegant restaurant is located in a medieval watch tower near the coast. The pasta with scampi sauce is the best we've ever tasted. €30. Lunch and dinner. Via Torre di Mondello 36.
Nicolò. On the 'other' side of the square, with airy terrace seating. Great fresh seafood. The pasta with urchin sauce is a specialty €30. Lunch and dinner. Piazza Mondello 44.
Trappitu. Located on a historic street, with a seaside terrace overlooking the rocky shore, this charming restaurant offers a number of Sicilian specialties and (in evenings) pizza. Good seppia (cuttlefish). Ambience is slightly rustic. The word "trappitu" is Sicilian for an olive mill stone, and one stands in the middle of the main dining room. €25 per person for lunch or dinner. Via Bordonaro 96.
Al Porticciolo. With its delightful atmosphere, indoors or out, this restaurant along the shore offers all kinds of seafood specialties and lots of pasta dishes. €25 per person for lunch or dinner. (Closed late November through January.) Via Bordonaro 66.
La Pentolaccia. Rustic, informal spot in an old stone building. Seafood couscous is a specialty. The stuffed meat roll (they call it "falsomagro") is good, too. €30.00 per person for lunch or dinner. Via G. Guarnotti 17.
Monte San Giuliano. Located next to Grammatico's pastry shop (a temptation in itself), San Giuliano has an extensive and affordable menu with occasional, seasonal dishes-of-the-day. The stuffed eggplant (aubergine) rolls are exceptional. As a change (from pasta), try the couscous. €25.00 per person for lunch or dinner. Vicolo San Rocco 7.
© 2008 Best of Sicily Travel Guide. Used by permission.