Tourists flock to spectacularly beautiful Taormina on Sicily’s east coast.
What to do, where to go for real life eating experiences with local people? On Skype I asked Taormina resident, Sebastiano of Sicily Life at sicilylife.com which offers a wonderful variety of tours and tourism services throughout Sicily.
Go outside Taormina’s centre where Italians go: five ways
1. Take the funicular from the centre down to Taormina’s popular Mazzaro beach on a beautiful little bay. Dine at Il Barcaiolo, run by a local family since 1981, with a small terrace overlooking the bay. Light, simple cuisine like Sicilian pesto with basil, tomatoes, ricotta and Bronte pistachio nuts. A piece of paradise! See their info page at barcaiolo.altervista.org. The Italian version tantalizes you with descriptions of their food while the English version says less.
2. Take a bus or car down to another exquisite bay under Taormina, Isola Bella. At one end of the bay, on the beach you’ll see Ristorante Pizzichella (pizzichella.it) which runs a beach concession with sun cots, umbrellas and boat excursions. They pride themselves on fresh local seafood dishes. Sun, sea, seafood and sorbetto! A heavenly way to enjoy a day at the beach!
3. Take a bus or car down to Giardini Naxos on the bay below Taormina. On the seafront promenade, Via Lungomare Tysandros at #68, stop at Ristorante Nettuno (ristorantenettunodasiciliano.it) for dishes like tuna with a cous cous crust on a salad of grilled zucchini and red onions from Tropea in Calabria.
4. Venture way up the mountain above Taormina to hill top town, Castelmola with forever views of the coast. Sebastiano likes Taverna dell’Etna (latavernadelletna.com) where you dine on classic Sicilian dishes like pasta with sardines, fennel, pine nuts and raisins as you sit on their terrace awestruck by panoramas.
Also in Castelmola, a little restaurant with tables in a piazza, Ristorante Bocciola (ristorantebocciola.com) beckons with plates like baked eggplant layered with marinated sword fish and crunchy basil with tomato puree.
5. Drive up into the foothills of Mount Etna and eat in any small town. Those restaurants depend on local business, so have to be good to stay open.
In Taormina itself, stay off the main streets when looking for restaurants. Sebastiano likes Rosso Peperoncino tucked away in an alley behind the Duomo. No website found. ViaSacramento 2. Phone 0942-625150.
Lots of locals love the pizza cooked in a wood fired oven and antipasti at Pizzeria E Antipasteria Varo hidden on a quiet little street at 1/b, Via Jean d’Orville in Taormina.
Phone 0942 628049. No website.
What & How To Order?
Don’t order off the menu. Ask what the chef can do today. You’ll get a list of typical plates not on the menu, like freshly caught fish that’s the fish of the day.
Order seafood like swordfish, shrimp, sardines, rockfish. Or typical Sicilian pasta like pasta alla Norma with tomato sauce, eggplant and ricotta. Many desserts feature pistachios, almonds or citrus fruit.
Enjoy eating true Sicilian style in the Taormina area before or after your Mama Margaret cooking tours in eastern Sicily.