As one of the most spectacularly beautiful places in Sicily, Taormina is, naturally, also one of the most popular. This delightful town makes the perfect base for exploring the island, or just staying put and enjoying the ambience and views. |
For true foodies looking to sample authentic Sicilian cuisine, however, rather than follow the crowds to the high-profile tourist haunts, I've got some suggestions to take you just beyond the town to hang out where the locals go.
This lovely bay sits under the shadow of Taormina and it's just a short distance by bus or car. Ristorante Pizzichella is an authentic local restaurant specialising in local seafood dishes cooked to perfection. If you go there during the day, they also hire out sun beds and umbrellas and can even take you out on a boat tour. The service is wonderful and the food is to die for. Sicilian cuisine just the way mama used to make it!
Head to the Mountain
This second tip is short and sweet. If you take a drive to the foothills of the magnificent Mt Etna (and let's face it, you're probably going there anyhow), stop off at any of the small villages in the area and you're guaranteed to get a proper traditional meal in a family-run bar or restaurant. As it's more off-the-beaten-track, they rely on local business – so you know it has to be good.
Just a short, picturesque funicular ride away, Mazzaro Beach is home to Il Barcaiolo, a family-run restaurant that's been in business for over three decades. If you can snaffle a table on the terrace you'll have a front row seat to beautiful views over the bay, but don't let that distract you! The food is traditional Sicilian cuisine using the freshest of fresh ingredients like local ricotta, Bronte pistachio nuts and, of course, succulent seafood. Take a chance and order straight from the Italian menu and see how you do! I'll give you a tip – nothing's bad.
Another lovely bay situated just beneath Taormina, despite its status as a popular seafront resort town, Giardini Naxos is home to an authentic gastronomic gem in Ristorante Nettuno. Serving up a fusion menu of seafood with a North African influence, you'll dine on delicious offerings like couscous-encrusted fresh tuna steak with marinated local vegetables. You'll find it tucked away on Via Lungomare Tysandros and it's easy to get there by car or bus from Taormina. (You can even walk down if you're feeling energetic, but don't plan on walking back up!)
Speaking of going up, my last tip is to head up the mountain to the lovely little hill top town of Castelmola. Once you've recovered from the view, seek out Taverna dell'Etna and settle in on the terrace for a lunch set against a backdrop of your own personal picture postcard. And if you're wondering – yes, the food is as good as the view. There's a large range of pasta dishes, seafood (try the fresh stuffed sardines with fennel) and a good local wine list.
There are plenty of other little out-of-the way local restaurants serving up fantastic real Sicilian cuisine in Taormina itself, as well, and the trick is to veer off the main streets, take a left, then a right and just around that last corner.... there it is – the true taste of Sicily!
John Dixon is an experienced world traveller and the Managing Director of Prestige Holidays. For over 30 years, he has been providing luxury holidays to Sicily to experience the culture, landscape and local Sicilian cuisine, as well holidays to Croatia, Bermuda and many other destinations around the globe. John tries to visit each of the destinations regularly in order to ensure the quality of his properties, and stay up-to-date about the latest local news and events. He has a taste for the finer things in life and has an interest in arts, history and culture.
Related Articles -