Where to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner in Calatabiano, Sicily, Italy

 

THE EXPERT

Born in Sicily, the owner (alongside his brother Ezio Gatto) and chef of Sud in western Sydney, Paolo Gatto honours his southern Italian culture in his modern rustic food. See sudfood.com.au

BREAKFAST

A typical breakfast on the Ionic coast where I come from is an iris alla crema, a brioche bun filled with custard cream in either chocolate, vanilla or pistachio flavour. It's shallow fried, then dusted with icing sugar and cinnamon. You can find it in pretty much any bar or coffee shop from 6am until lunchtime. A ristretto coffee is a perfect accompaniment to the iris alla crema. Bar Duina specialises in sweets, and in the morning has a wide range of croissant brioche and iris as well as great panettone. (Via Duomo 1)

SNACK

Tavola calda is precooked, hot fast food, something similar to the sausage roll or hot pie you might find in a warmer oven in Australia. But in Calatabiano, we have small pizzette, cipolline or arancini. These small dishes can be found in caffeterias all around Sicily, on any corner, as popular snacks and for brunch. Sweet Bar di Fortunato is very famous for its selection of tavola calda. (Via Giuseppe Macherione 120)

LUNCH

Lunchtime is pasta time in any restaurant in any Calatabiano. In the Calatabiano kitchen, pasta is undisputed queen. My favourite is pasta ca muddica (pasta with bread crumb), and to this day I still have it on my menus. My favourite place to eat it is at my mum's place, and she is very happy to host visitors. But if you can't find her, one of the best places for pasta is Blue Ice, an unassuming restaurant with excellent service. It feels like eating with family. (Contrada San Marco)

APERITIVO

When it's hot in Sicily, we head to the beach to drink fresh juice or cocktails but the famous granita Siciliana is also a great option to refresh from the hot summer. The granita is a perfect drink for morning, brunch, lunch, afternoon, aperitivo or after dinner – basically any time is acceptable. In the morning it can be served with Sicilian brioches and panna, or as an aperitivo it is mixed with soda water or fresh tea in many flavours. After dinner, this drink is often a substitute for gelato. My favourite place to enjoy a granita is Bam Bam (Via di Giovanni 43)

DINNER

The variety of fresh local catch means fish is always a good option, and my favourite nights are those when we set up a barbecue and we eat freshly caught local seafood such as anchovies or another small fish that we call pesce azzurro (blue fish). Pair the crispy charcoal-grilled fish with cold house-made white and red wine, and salmoriglio sauce that comprises extra virgin olive oil, garlic, parsley, lemon, chilli flakes and dry oregano. A blood orange and fennel salad dressed with organic extra virgin olive oil and house-made vinegar is a fine match as a side dish. Pino Verde Ristorante is where I started working 25 years ago, and they still serve the best fish barbecue on the beach. (Strada Provinciale 12)

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