Sicily is awash with culture: set along the ancient trade route with Greece – the original ‘Silk Road’ – it was an obvious choice for the site of the first Greek colonization during the C8th/7th BCE.
This heritage, and succeeding reigning historical periods, has cemented Sicily’s status as one of the most fascinating islands in the Mediterranean. In addition to her mix of history, art, and culture, as well as her pleasant climate and incredible natural beauty, Sicily has yet another notch in her belt when competing for visitors’ attention: food.
Heralded as producing some of the most interesting and varied dishes in all Italian cuisine, Sicily offers delicacies quite unlike any other island in the Mediterranean. When exploring the island on a Mediterranean yacht charter, allow yourself time ashore to find out for yourself why Sicily is a food lover’s haven. We’ve compiled a list of the very best restaurants in Sicily.
Best Restaurants in Sicily
Duomo, Ragusa Ibla
At the southern most tip of Sicily lays the region of Ragusa, an ancient limestone town that is set between two deep valleys. Many settlements here date back to C2nd BCE and enchant visitors with architectural relics of a bygone era. Passing from the hands of the Greeks into the governance of the Carthaginians, Romans, and Byzantines, before becoming occupied by the Arabs in 848 AD and then the Normans in the C11th, the town has a fascinating and eclectic history. Many of the buildings are Baroque – including the magnificent St. George Cathedral – following the extensive reconstruction of the town after a huge earthquake in 1693.
The aptly named Duomo restaurant lies in the shadow of the Cathedral’s dome and offers a romantic setting for a charming evening meal. Overseen by Head Chef Ciccio Sultano, one of the most renowned chefs on the island, the restaurant has more than earned its 2 Michelin Stars.
Chef Sultano describes the influence of Mother Nature in his approach to cooking: “The cook is a transformer. Cooking is the art to vary, alter, manipulate textures, temperature, nature of the ingredients that our earth, the sea, and sky offer us.”
Stunningly presented, Sultano’s menu is based heavily on traditional Sicilian dishes, but with his own modern interpretation, which often reflects the town’s history. Indeed, he notes that he uses ingredients “from the site of the earthquake,” and many of his dishes are in tribute to the town; expect dishes that relate in one way or another to mediaeval hunting techniques, or ancient clay. A particular favourite dessert is the ‘Pistachio cous cous with cream of milk with lavender sorbet and flower water,’ which pays homage to the Sisters of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit of Agrigento.
Expert wine pairings can be made from the extensive underground wine cellar – itself an historical gem. If you’re especially kind to the waiter, s/he may well offer you a tour!
Locando Don Serafino, Ragusa Ibla
Close by is another stunning 2 Michelin-starred restaurant, Locando Don Serafino, which boasts a wine cellar of over 1,000 bottles and is set in a cave. Located by the Church of Miracles (a UNESCO site of historical interest), Locando Don Serafino is utterly charming. Headed up by Chef Vincenzo Candiano, the restaurant offers a menu that focuses on the traditional dishes from the area, with all produce sourced locally. Dedicated to creating an aesthetically stunning and conceptually innovative menu, the Head Chef merges an intense mix of flavours, leading him to be crowned ‘Best Young Chef in Southern Italy’ in 2007 – the same year he won the restaurant its first Michelin Star.
The seafood here is particularly exquisite: saffron risotto with goat’s cheese and creamed Girgentanta, and roasted lobster and Sicilian truffles are among the most popular dishes, however, it would be a mistake not to sample the “Grand Chef” Tasting Menu to get a full taste of the region.
If you are looking for an intimate restaurant for a dimly lit, romantic dinner, you cannot go wrong with the historic setting of an ancient Sicilian cave.
Ristorante Da Vittorio, Porto Palo di Menfi
Take advantage of your Sicily yacht charter and travel round the island to the North West coast to visit Porto Palo di Menfi, a small fisherman’s village in the province of Agrigento – an area with some of the island’s richest archaeological findings: Selinunte is the largest archaeological park in Europe; Agrigento itself is full of Greek Temples; foundations of a C6th Greek town can be seen at Eraclea Minoa; and the slightly more modern Mediaeval town of Erice is also well worth a visit.
Ristorante Da Vittorio is set overlooking the beaches of Porto Palo – 10km of white sand with dunes formed by sweeping winds from North Africa. Moor up and take your tender to shore, where you will be greeted with a selection of the freshest seafood – so fresh, in fact, that there is no menu. The catch of the day will be grilled on the BBQ on the beach, and antipasti might include marinated octopus or sea urchins. Pasta is also a specialty of the Head Chef’s, on which he comments:
“The pasta at Vittorio is a hedonistic expression of my personality, in which the fruits of the sea are the ultimate expression of flavours and colours, as if the dish was a palette on which to paint our Mediterranean.”
Take a seat on the terrace overlooking the sea and enjoy the typically laid-back Italian atmosphere, while sampling some of the finest wines from throughout Sicily.
Restaurant Principe Cerami, Taormina
On the North East coast lays the city of Taormina, which has been popular with tourists since the 1880s for its stunning beaches. One of the most ancient settlements on the island, the town has a fascinating history, and in more recent times has been used as a base by many artists and writers.
Haute cuisine meets the traditional in the Restaurant Principe Cerami, which is set within the 5* San Domenico Palace Hotel. Located in perfectly coiffured gardens, the restaurant enjoys panoramic sea views, enabling you to admire your yacht while you dine in elegant surroundings. With 2 Michelin Stars, the restaurant and its fare will not disappoint; the inventive and mouth-watering dishes make this restaurant a must: black piglet from Nebrodi, glazed with lemon, and red prawn from Mazara, floured with orange and long zucchini leaves.
Ristorante La Madia, Licata
Another coastal town, the major seaport of Licata is located halfway between the two ancient towns of Agrigento and Gela, and therefore offers many interesting archaeological sites to visit when on shore excursions. The approach by sea doesn’t appear all too special, until you set foot in the Port and start to discover the ancient streets and C16th buildings throughout the town, including the old castle at the top of the town.
Ristorante La Madia focuses on local produce and traditional dishes, making “mama’s” homemade dinners contemporary with a bit of culinary magic. Every dish is crafted around the seasonality and sustainability of the local farmers, providing a rich and varied menu of local delicacies. Cod in a smoking pinecone, or squid ravioli stuffed with tinniruma cucuzza with an anchovy sauce, should not be missed.
The restaurant itself is simple, so as not to detract away from the art on the plates. It is homely and traditional, and makes a ready respite from the heat of the Sicilian coast.
Enjoy the Sicilian coast cruising on a yacht to take in the beauty and spectacular views.
Charter M/Y OKTO
Enjoy a Mediterranean yacht charter in Sicily on a superyacht as distinctive as the location itself; M/Y OKTO – the belle of the ball at the Monaco Yacht Show 2015 after her launch the year before – is an exquisite 66m ISA-built powerhouse. For a gentle cruise on your Sicily yacht charter, the incredible engineering has led to lower noise and vibration levels while underway, with no other distractions other than the amazing scenery passing you by.
Up to 10 guests can relax on any one of her 4 sublime decks – her lower being the most striking, with a 6m infinity pool that can be filled with either fresh or sea water. The private Owner’s balcony is a perfect hidden getaway, as is the forward Jacuzzi up on bridge deck. The neutral interiors add perfectly to her guests’ relaxation, as does a trip to the on-board spa, cinema, and gym.