An insider’s guide to Sicily’s Haute Cuisine

21 June 2023
Written by
Teresa Cremona

Take a gastronomic journey through the region

Sicily is a region known to be extremely rich on a gastronomic point of view, with traces of all cultures that have existed on the island over the last two millennia. But as well as international influences, raw materials are elevated due to the abundance of fresh produce grown and caught locally. From sweet to savoury dishes through mineral wines cultivated on the feet of Mount Etna, the entire region is a new discovery every single day from a culinary point of view. We have gathered our selection of top restaurants to book on your next trip to Sicily both in city centres and on the outskirts (always worth that extra drive).

northern sicily


Gagini Social Restaurant

Gagini Social Restaurant

Among exposed period walls and a décor thought out in detail, in the most genuine and ancient heart of Palermo, is Franco Virga and Stefania Milano’s social restaurant. This  comfortable environment puts at ease the customer as well as offering an impressive, extraordinary gastronomic proposal. The chef, inspired by the tradition dictated by the looming presence of the nearby Vucciria and the ancient marina of the Cala with an eye to innovation, comes up with contemporary, clean dishes such as lanzardo, local eggplant, cocoa and sweet and sour onion, linguine with redfish ragout, fifth quarter tuna, spinach, raisins and pine nuts, and again the battered amberjack, fish mayonnaise, pickled giri, bottarga and frigitelli. The menu is varies according to the chef’s inspiration and market produce. WEBSITE

Buatta Cucina PoplolaNA

Right in the center of town, a group of young people decided to give a new look to Palermo’s gastronomic tradition; thus the restaurant was born. An informal and cool atmosphere, essential mise-en-place and a menu that speaks of Sicilian recipes with a touch of creativity. The style of the restaurant is art nouveau with black and white flooring originating in the early twentieth century and wooden cupboards containing the classic buatte, preserving containers here filled with traditional recipes. From the technological open kitchen one can watch the brigade prepare caponate, pasta with sardines a beccafico and sfincione. Everything is served with grace by a young and informal staff. WEBSITE 

MEC Restaurant

Inside Palermo’s MEC Museum, the first Museum in Sicily dedicated to the IT Revolution, there is a gourmet restaurant headed by chef Carmelo Trentacosti. The building overlooks the majestic Arab-Norman cathedral and the cuisine highly respects the ingredients of the territory. You can order a la carte or one of two tasting menus: land and sea. Not to miss: the crêpes suzette prepared at the table, for at least two people. On Sundays there is an excellent brunch and for golden hour (7pm) enjoy cocktails paired with bites from the kitchen. The service is professional and the cellar full of national and international labels. WEBSITE

Bye Bye Blues, Mondello

The restaurant is cozy with a beautifully presented everything: from the interior decor to the dishes, painted on the dish as if they were art. This is the skill and capability of Chef Patrizia di Benedetto, whose cuisine is capable of satisfying the most discerning palates. Among the specialties on the menu, we suggest tasting the raw fish, green tea salt and honey lemon marmalade, black cavatelli in sea sauce and urchin foam and ancoral’agnello with bronte pistachios and caponatina. Good cellar, extensive list of spirits. WEBSITE

Spaghetti Sarde a Beccafico at Buatta Cucina Popolare

Cala Luna, Cefalù

Cala Luna at Le Calette

Chef Dario Pandolfo, after working with Norbert Niederkofler, returned to his town in Sicily, where he now leads Cala Luna, a fine dining restaurant at the charming hotel Le Calette. The location has an incredible view of the sea. The chef’s proposal enhances the territory, but his previous experiences around the world give it that original extra touch! WEBSITE 

Il Bavaglino, Terrasini

Chef Giuseppe Costa creates delicious and creative dishes with great passion in his small restaurant with an outdoor terrace. Some examples are Sicilian red prawn sashimi, wasabi and citron, tagliolini with rabbit ragout, basil pesto and goat cheese fondue, spaghetti with sea urchins and ginger powder, Seared tuna, chickpea cream, red onion and Nero d’Avola reduction. Grissini, bread (at least six different varieties), and pasta, are home-made. WEBSITE

I Pupi, Bagheria

An elegant, minimalist ambience with neutral tones and lava stone floors for gracefully revisited Sicilian cuisine. In this restaurant, where design and taste go hand in hand, Laura Codogno is the star of the dining room and her husband Tony Lo Coco of the kitchen, welcoming guess with excellent raw fish paired with different types of salt and flavoured oils, with spaghetti with urchins, parsley chlorophyll and stigghiola, a reinterpretation of Sicilian street food made with tuna and cuttlefish; try the desserts, a real treat. The dinner is harmoniously accompanied by one of the wines from the extensive cellar. WEBSITE 

Stazione Vucciria, Pollina (Pa)

A pop-up restaurant that brings a little something new to the culinary scene every year. This summer, Yoji Tokuyoshi will take the reigns of this small coastal eatery. His extensive experience includes working alongside Massimo Bottura’s at the Osteria Francescana and later opened his restaurant in Milan in 2015, with a cuisine that has contaminated his Japanese roots with his adopted Italian ones. At Vucciria, Chef Tokuyoshi will bring a slice of his Bentoteca restaurant to the coastline, where the menu will strictly feature Sicilian, high quality ingredients. WEBSITE 

Stazione Vucciria. Ph. Credits Fabio Florio
Stazione Vucciria. Ph. Credits Fabio Florio

eastern sicily

Materia Spazio Cucina, Catania

The renowned chef Bianca Celano has opened her new restaurant inside Habitat Hotel. She cooks local ingredients in a creative way. The convivial space is a gastronomic atelier that tells the story of Sicilian ingredients and small producers. WEBSITE

Faraglioni Restaurant, Aci Castello

Faraglioni restaurant at Grand Hotel Faraglioni

Beautiful views overlook the sea and the restaurant features an interesting menu by Sicilian chef Simone Strano. His cuisine is a tribute to his land. Taste Linguine Alla “Carbonara Di Tonno”, Latte Di Mandorle E Bottarga, with tuna fish, almond milk and tuna roe. WEBSITE 

Ristorante Zash, Riposto

The restaurant, one Michelin star, is housed inside a charming 19th-century palmento, brought back to life by a meticulous restoration, preserving its magical, historical atmosphere. Giuseppe Raciti’s cuisine expresses itself at remarkable levels through thematic tasting menus, whose dishes, however, can be extracted a la carte and freely chosen. His proposals contain many references to the island, but also references to personal “memories, travels, experiences.” Spread throughout the property, in the refined rooms one can end a dreamy stay. WEBSITE 

Shalai, Linguaglossa

An elegant and refined restaurant with one Michelin star situated at the foot of the volcano within the hotel Shalai, whose name in Sicilian dialect means full joy. The cuisine offers local flavours revisited in a modern key by the young chef Giovanni Santoro, who creates unusual combinations of seasonal raw materials and local products. The wine list presents a careful selection of Etna labels, aimed at representing the new local viticulture. The restaurant is open year-round for dinner and Saturday and holidays also for lunch.WEBSITE

Coria, Caltagirone

The two young chefs of this restaurant, Domenico and Francesco, put their experience and love for Sicily into their creations. In fact, the dishes are an example of how new recipes can be reinterpreted without betraying the original spirit and the “Sicilianità”, which is actually enriched. Try the half pacchero with scampi sauce, almond curd, sautéed escarole, capers and olives; Modica-style lamb breadcrumbs, chickpea cubbaita and fried tuma cheese. One of our favourite deserts: cornucopia of ricotta, hot fig soup and nougat ice cream. WEBSITE


Otto Geleng, taormina

Enter the Otto Geleng Salotto and taste Chef Roberto Toros’ Mediterranean menu created with local fish and vegetables. Thanks to the natural ingredients of the region, the Chef wants to take its clients on a nostalgic culinary journey. WEBSITE

La Capinera, taormina

Surrounded by the beautiful sea of Taormina, La Capinera will welcome you to its elegant and refined terrace. Chef Pietro d’Agostino uses mostly Sicilian ingredients: fish of the day, local olive oils, Giarratana onions, salt from the island of Mozia, cheese and fresh ricotta to reinterpret typical Sicilian dishes. WEBSITE

St George by Heinz Beck, taormina

Heinz Beck is one of the oldest 3-Michelin-star hotels in Italy. With the aim of using local and seasonal products, the St. George Restaurant by Heinz Beck offers a unique menu that is always in evolution. WEBSITE

Otto Geleng at Grand Hotel Timeo, a Belmond hotel

Southern Sicily


CodaRossa, noto

A beautiful location created within an old farm, amidst greenery, swimming pool and casual chic furnishings with majolica tiles. A modern and elegant structure in which you can enjoy both fish and meat dishes. Try the tuma persa burnt cream with crunchy asparagus and homemade goose ham, marinated with Sicilian citrus fruits and Zibibbo and also the Damigella linguine with turnip greens with chilli pepper and Aeolian amberjack with lemon thyme. Good desserts with local wines in combination. WEBSITE

ristorante Crocifisso, noto

Il Crocifisso Noto

Near the Chiesa del Crocifisso, Ristorante Crocifisso is a contemporary styled restaurant with simple, clean interiors and well presented dishes made with seasonal ingredients. There are four tasting menus that range from 4 courses to 7 courses (vegetarian, meat and fish). Among our favourites: linguine Mancini, with mussels, turnip greens sauce, Ragusano cheese and candied orange. Last but not least, the desserts are all to be enjoyed! In the cellar, a good choice of mostly local labels. WEBSITE

Vicari, noto

Located behind the S. Nicolò cathedral, the young chef Salvatore Vicari alongside his wife Jessica, decided to open this eatery in the heart of the historical quarter of Noto. The menu is tied to the flavours of Sicily, with ingredients that speak of tradition with a fresh outlook. A must try is the Arancino Fumo with bufala ragusana and Nebrodi pancetta – extremely tasty as is the Cannolo, presented in a glass jar as if it were a mousse. The wine list is extensive with the presence of artisanal beers for those who love a cold brew with their meal. WEBSITE

Locanda Don Serafino, Ragusa

What used to be an inn, today is a charming hotel housed within an ancient palazzo in Ragusa Ibla. Here the La Rosa brothers have given life, together with the chef, to a cozy place, with exposed stone and vaulted ceilings, offering a cuisine with genuine island flavours reworked with flair. Nice cellar, both in terms of bubbles and selected labels. WEBSITE

Duomo, Ragusa Ibla

With a recognisable profile and a shrewd hand capable of pampering raw materials by enhancing and deeply exalting flavours, chef Ciccio Sultano operates within his restaurant with confidence. An intimate and familiar atmosphere offering a unique culinary journey that touches both sea and land. Special mentions must go to the Cod a Sfincione, with crispy puff pastry and a strong sour sauce, the Ragusano Dop gnocco, carbonara di seppia, rockfish with pistachio and lemon aroma. The desserts are not to be missed and perhaps well savoured with a glass of passito from the well stocked wine cellar. WEBSITE

Inside Duomo. Ph. Credits Benedetto Tarantino

Accursio Ristorante, Modica

A simple, familiar atmosphere with antique tiles on the floor and up cycled objects that give charm and character to the place. Chef Accursio Craparo offers dishes related to Sicilian cuisine, among the apetizers, a tribute to the typical Sicilian ‘street food’ with arancino, prawns, sea urchins and mozzarella, while in the following courses you return to the table with Spremuta di Sicily, pasta with anchovy, tuna roe, spring onion, wild fennel and toasted bread. Followed by scampi with baby spinach and pine nuts and sweet and sour bread and onion with Fiore Sicano, black truffle, beetroot and spiced bread and the inevitable dessert; try Iris, with ricotta cream, pistachio, saffron, peppers and fruit. WEBSITE

I Banchi, Ragusa

A relaxed, casual atmosphere plays the backdrop for an intricate culinary experience. I Banchi, of Ciccio Sultano, is the perfect example of a quality all-day-dining concept which was born as a bakery and expanded as a convivial place to enjoy lunch, afternoon snack, aperitif and dinner. Bread is the heart and soul of this place and not only, it is said than in Sicily, this crusty, crispy delight is as important as wine. Here, you can enjoy warm, home baked breads made with ancient grains as well as savoury quiches, scacce ragusane (Sicilian stuffed flat bread) and sfincione palermitano (a type of pizza typical of Palermo). WEBSITE

Cuisine at Accursio Ristorante
Il Cannolo at I Banchi. Ph. Credits Melissa Carnemolla

Western Sicily 

La Madia, Licata, Agrigento

The temple of Italian gastronomy, reason being that nothing should distract from the dishes, their flavors and the suggestions that the brilliant Pino Cuttaia creates and recreates. Come in and let Loredana, his wife, lead you through this wonderful culinary experience, suggesting, for example, the tasting menus or, from the a la carte menu, some of his staples such as the Pizzaiola, the pinecone-smoked cod, or the arancino di riso with mullet ragout and wild fennel, and even the garlic-spiked nostrano lamb. Dense with memories of childhood and tradition, finally, the desserts. WEBSITE

Foresteria Planeta, Menfi

La Foresteria

Framed by tall palms and carpets of aromatics (they have more than 50 of unusual species such as the allusive coke sage), there is a hearty lunch waiting for guests. Angelo Pumilia prepares recipes from tradition or taken from the book of the monsù, the cook of Sicilian noble families. Many recipes have been simplified and lightened such as the traditional cassata has half the recommended doses of sugar (hence a must try). Each dish has its recommended wine and at the end a digestive herbal tea with herbs from the garden is recommended. WEBSITE 

Capitolo Primo, Montallegro

Capitolo Primo. Ph. Benedetto Tarantino

In a typical 19th-century Sicilian palazzetto, well restored with even some hospitable rooms, this lovely restaurant opens on the ground floor. In the kitchen is Damiano Ferraro, a chef of long and vast experience, amply confirmed by dishes strictly made with island ingredients and someone local. The proposals on the menu testify to all the technique and flair of the chef. WEBSITE

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