Ionian Coast

ACI CASTELLO Alioto

Via Mollica 24-26, 95021 Tel 095-494 444

This seaside village restaurant offers a wide selection of fresh fish and shellfish. Main courses include risotto alla pescatora (rice with fish and seafood); linguine al cartoccio (pasta and seafood steamed inside paper wrapping); and pasta with lobster. End your meal with a delicious strawberry cake or cassata. Closed Tue; 2 weeks Aug.

ACIREALE A’Cumarca

The main attraction here is the terrace with its view of Etna, the mountains and the sea. The food is traditional and responsibly priced, with antipasti, caponata (aubergine stew), pizza and light snacks being the most popular fare. Open only for dinner till late (about 1am). Closed Mon.

ACIREALE La Grotta

Via Scalo grande 46, 95024 Tel 095-764 81 53

Built inside a grotto by the sea, this small restaurant sits only 25 people inside, but the outside area more than doubles that number. Fish is the speciality and prices are reasonable. La Grotta’s most popular dishes are the seafood salad and mixed grilled fish. There is also a limited selection of Sicilian wines. Closed Tue; mid Oct-mid Nov.

ACITREZZA Verga da Gaetano

Via Provinciale 119, 95021 Tel 095-276 342

Near a small harbour, this restaurant has walls hung with photographs from the Luchino Visconti film “La Terra Trema”, in which the owner’s wife had a role. Outside, the view is the sea, the Cyclops Island and a lighthouse. The small trattoria specializes in fish and offers 20 Sicilian and Italian wines. Closed Thu; Jan.

CAPRILEONE L’Antica Filanda

Contrada Raviola SS 157, 98070 Tel 0941-919 704

This elegant hillside restaurant offers excellent meat dishes as well as local cheeses. Nero dei Nebrodi pork is prepared in a variety of ways, as are lamb and goat. Local wild field greens and mushrooms are used liberally, and bread is made in their wood-burning oven. Impressive selection of cheeses and wines. Closed Mon.

CATANIA Antica Marina

Via Pardo 29 (Catania fish market), 95100 Tel 095-348 197

This is the ideal place to come for those who want to dine in the midst of Catania’s fish market. It is best at lunch when the action is in full swing (except Sunday, when the market is closed). Recommended dishes are the mixed seafood starter and the spaghetti with sea urchins, but check to see what is being offered on the day. Closed Wed.

CATANIA Sicilia in Bocca

Piazza Pietro Lupo 16, 95100 Tel 095-746 13 61

This trattoria dates back to the early 20th century. The speciality is seafood at reasonable price. Try the fish-stuffed ravioli or one of the many pasta dishes with a fish sauce. Choose from the day’s catch, which might be swordfish, snapper or grouper, and accompany it with one of the 50 wines on offer. Friendly service. Closed Mon; 2 weeks Aug.

CATANIA Sicilia in bocca alla Marina

Via Dusmet 35, 95100 Tel 095-250 02 08

This atmospheric trattoria in a 14th century palazzo attracts a young crowd. You can enjoy the pizza and lively outdoor dining scene downstairs, or dine on the terrace upstairs, which offers a great view of the Duomo and the Museo Diocesano. Closed Mon.

CATANIA Azienda Vinicola Benanti

Via Garibaldi 475, Viagrande, 95029 Tel 095-789 35 33

The prestigious Benanti winery offers a tour of its wine cellar and vineyards followed by a wine tasting. By advance reservation only, a lunch with wine tasting will be prepared for a minimum of five (and a maximum of 100) people. Diners can finish with cigars and spirits from Benanti’s select collection. Ask about dining outside in summer.

CATANIA La Siciliana

Via Marco Polo 52A, 95126 Tel 095-376 400

One of Catania’s most popular restaurants. The food prepared includes some inventive dishes, as well as plenty of traditional favourites, like pasta alla Norma (pasta with fried aubergine, aged ricotta and tomato sauce), cuttlefish risotto black from its ink, and local ricotta cheese. Closed Mon.

CATANIA Osteria Tre Bicchieri

In a 19th century palazzo, this wine bar is elegant to the last detail: Rosenthal porcelain, Riedel glasses and silver cutlery make dining here a truly special occasion. The selection of over 500 wines, good cheese and salami platters, and creative Mediterranean cuisine also contribute to the fine dining experience. Closed lunch; Sun; most of Jul-Aug.

LETOJANNI Nino

Via Rizzo29, 98037 Tel 0942-361 47

Begin with the heavenly antipasti: small fish cakes, squid with artichokes, octopus with home-pickled garlic, blood orange stuffed with shrimp and wild fennel, large shrimp stuffed with mashed fennel potatoes. The main courses are equally creative. If you are still hungry, end your meal with the home-made ice-cream. Closed Tue in winter; Dec-Feb.

MESSINA trattoria Anselmo

Via Largo Grande 29, Ganzirri, 98100 Tel 090-393 225

Ganzirri is at the northeast tip of Sicily, where the island almost touches Calabria, in the windy Strait of Messina. Some say the strong sea currents make the fish taste even better, and this restaurant certainly provides ample proof of such outstanding quality. Located in a rebuilt area, Trattoria Anselmo specializes in shellfish. Closed Mon in winter.

MESSINA Da Piero

Via Ghibellina 119, 98100 Tel 090-718 365

Locals, many of whom consider this to be Messina’s best restaurant, come here for its classic local cusine, which is a tradition since 1962. Seafood and meat dishes are featured, as well as some lighter vegetables or salad plates. Attentive, standard level of service. Closed Sun; Aug.

SAN GIOVANNI LA PUNTA Giardino di Bacco

Via Piave 3, 95037 Tel 095-751 27 27

Dine on the southeast slope of Europe’s largest volcano, Mount Etna. This careful, well-run restaurant is in the former gatehouse to a grand villa and makes for elegant dining in the evening. The emphasis is on local cusine, which is prepared expertly. Closed lunch (except on holidays); Mon; Jan.

SANT’ALFIO Azienda Agricola Casa Perrotta

Via Andronico 2, 95010 Tel 095-968 928

On Etna’s slope, this 16th century monastery offers views of the volcano and the sea. The menu offers more than 40 antipasti, meat or vegetables, hot or cold. Try the spicy pork with sweet-and-sour sauce or the beef involtini (roulades) in lemon leaves. Desserts include gelo di cannella, a cinnamon-based sweet. Closed lunch (Mon-Fri); Mon in winter.

TAORMINA Casa Grugno

Via Santa Maria dei Greci, 98039 Tel 0942-212 08

In the heart of medieval Taormina, this 16th century palazzo highlights its architectural features with modern decor and candlelight. Traditional and historic recipes are given modern interpretations by the chef, who keeps the flavours very Mediterranean in style. Excellent wine selection. Closed Sun; part of Feb and Nov.

TAORMINA La Baronessa

Corso Umberto, 98039 Tel 0942-620 163 or 628 191

The lovely 19th century decor creates an elegant Victorian ambience. Anchovy and wild mint timballo (soufle), pasta with lobster, cannoli (roulades) with artichokes and broad beans, the signature sformatino (layered pie) with ricotta and aubergine, or millefoglie (paper-thin layers) of swordfish are all good main courses closed lunch.

TAORMINA La Giara Ristorante e Pianobar

Vico la Floresta 1, 98039 Tel 0942-625 083 or 233 60

A splendid example of that vanishing species of elegant supper and dancing club, La Giara draws an upmarket clientele for drinks, dining, music at the piano bar and dancing. Except to see a well-heeled, traditional crowd with the occasional jet-setter stopping by. Closed winter (except for special events).

TAORMINA Maffei’s

Via San Domenico de Guzman 1, 98039 Tel 0942-240 55

This Taormina chef has an extraordinary refined, subtle touch – his sauces enhance flavours without ever being heavy or dominating. Try the fresh oysters from Messina, the light and flavourful spaghetti with sea urchins, or the delicious sea snails in tomato sauce. Great service and a superb wine selection. Closed 7 Jan-20 Feb.

TAORMINA Ristorante Vicolo Stretto

Via Vicolo Stretto 6, 98039 Tel 0942-249 95

This gem of a restaurant is tiny (30 seats inside) and features traditional Sicilian cusine with creative variations. Start with raw fish, fish salads or delicious vegetable antipasti. Gnocchi (potato dumplings) with shrimp and pistachios are tasty. Fish cous cous or grouper involtini (roulades) are popular. International wine selection.

TRECASTAGNI All’Angolo

Via Catania 37, 95039 Tel 095-780 69 88

Set at the foot of Mount Etna, west of Acireale and north of Catania, this old farmhouse offers an Italian (rather than Sicilian) menu in an intimate setting with just 20 seats. The interior is furnished in part with antiques and you can dine in the garden during summer. The list of 180 wines includes some international labels. Closed lunch (open on request only).

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One Response to “Ionian Coast”

  1. Chance Fino scrive:

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