It was an overcast September day in Ortigia. I walked past the Temple of Apollo towards Via De Benedictis to have a look at the market. The vendors were closing up shop, packing away olives, nuts, sun drenched buckets of u strattu di pomodoro (tomato paste). My heart sang. Smells of the sea, fish, salt, and burning firewood filled the air.
I peeked into a modern and simply designed restaurant, scanned the menu and the kitchen and via… I grabbed the corner seat at the bar with a view over the fish display and kitchen. Sitting at the bar brought back memories of years living in NYC. As a single traveler, I felt happy and at ease. Giulia, who works the front of house, was sweet and helpful. We talked about the restaurant. It is owned by her family. Her grandfather (pictured below) like mine, was a fisherman. Her family sold fish in this very spot until a few years ago. The family continues to fish and sell fish in Siracusa which guarantees a “fish to table” meal.
They opened in August 2016 and have a small but ample lunch menu as well as a full dinner menu which changes seasonally. I started with bruschetta topped with anchovies and stracciatella cheese and a glass of moscato di noto white wine. The wine list is being configured and will feature both large and small Sicilian wine producers.
As my first course, I chose penne shaped pasta with pesce azzuro, fresh mint and tomatoes. The pasta was perfectly al dente, mixed with luscious sweet tomatoes, saber fish and yes more anchovies but this time fresh ones, and a touch of mint.
Dessert was Sicily in a cup: mousse of ricotta with caramelized almonds and pistachio granules. Sicily is known for her creamy sheep’s milk and cow’s milk ricotta, sweet and bitter almonds and Pistacchio Verde di Bronte D.O.P. The creamy mousse was layered and topped with crunchy nuts.
I went back a second time during my three-day visit and was delighted with the fish tartare, casarecce pasta with pumpkin, shrimp and mint and the ricotta mousse again. I couldn’t resist it. I left Ortigia happily stuffed with good food and conversation.
Cucina e Bottega
Via De Benedictis, 25
Tel + 39 0931 1623944
Call for opening times.
Photo credits ©Gina Tringali