Monday, March 24, 2008

Palermo Restaurant Picks

We were in Palermo for a week which included Easter. We generally ate a large lunch and then snacked for dinner back in our apartment. We used the Osterie d’Italia Slow Food Guide to guide us in our restaurant choices while in Palermo. We enjoyed them all. Here they are with a couple of notes:

Antica Focacceria San Francesco, the most famous, was probably the least refined in terms of flavors and presentation but still is definitely worth a visit even if to just support the addiopizzo campaign. Queues can get quite long for this popular place. You grab a tray, order, get your food and sit where you can. We ordered something like Menu #4 because it gave us a taste of everything for 13 Euros. It hit the spot as our first meal in Palermo. The Antica Focacceria San Francesco is located on Via A. Paternostro, 58 and opens out onto a little piazza in front of a church.

Trattoria Primavera was our Easter dinner and we could not have a more pleasant holiday dinner. It was packed, but we reserved the night before so had a table waiting. On a second outing to the restaurant a few days later for lunch we talked to the owner for a while which sealed the deal for us as a favorite place to eat. You’ll find typical Sicilian dishes here. Trattoria Primavera is near the Quattro Canti in the Piazza Bologna.

Maestro del Brodo is near the center of the famous Vucciria market. (The most famous representation of this market is Renato Guttuso’s famous 1974 painting La Vucciria. Search for it. By the way, the painting is in Palazzo Chiaromente which can be visited.) Maestro del Brodo is great because you walk in (at least for lunch the two times we went) and you are pleasantly accosted by two dozen or so very tempting antipasto dishes laid out in a small buffet. Next to that are all the fresh fish you can pick from for your main dish. Both times we got the self-serve antipasti buffet, a pasta dish, and a main fish dish – about 64 Euros for everything including wine and water. As I write this I’m still thinking of an appetizer which was chopped bits of veal jaws and feet (sort of cartilage-y) with a condiment of lemon and salt and served cold. Sounds odd, but it was delicious. However, fish is the main attraction in this restaurant.The Maestro del Brodo is located on Via Pannieri, 7.

Trattoria degli Artisti was the simplest of the restaurants we tried. We visited for a late lunch and at first thought so-so, but then as the meal progressed and we talked with the chef we grew to like it quite a bit. The chef came out and gave us a lesson on the finer points of preparing the involtini di pesce spada – slightly different than this video, but gives you the idea. The Trattoria degli Artisti is located on Via Torquato Tasso, 118.

Cucina Papoff was the fanciest of the restaurants we visited and the most expensive of this small list of restaurants, though not prohibitive enough to try it. The door was locked when we arrived, but we could hear something going on and so rang the bell and then the door magically opened and we were greeted by one of their great wait staff. You’ll fine refined versions of popular Sicilian dishes. Cucina Papoff is located on Via Isidoro La Lumia, 32.

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