Saturday, May 14, 2011
One of the major advantages of staying at a large hotel is the concierge service. On our visit to Palermo, the Excelsior Hilton didn't have a person designated as the concierge, but the hotel staff manning the front desk did a stellar job in covering the service. Alejandro offered us the suggestion of 2 restaurants in the neighborhood, one a trattoria and one a ristorante. We selected the humbler of the two, hoping to find classic Sicilian dishes and we did.
As one expects, we were served bread, a very good bread with a moist crumb and a respectable crunchy crust. Our aim was to go for an antipasti and a pasta, so the shrimp salad looked like a good choice and it was. I especially liked the texture of the fried breadcrumb garnish, which is traditional in Italian cuisine, if the dish includes fish or seafood as a main ingredient.
One of the most classic Sicilian antipasti is caponata, a combination of eggplant, tomatoes, onions, olives, and celery with a distinctive sweet and sour sauce. It reminds me of ratatouille in a way, probably because of the tomato eggplant combination, but that's where the resemblence stops. This version had a silky mouth feel and was generous in the use of a fruity olive oil. It made me want to make it at home again...and again. It's delicious on its own or with bread. We discovered the perfect drink with which to wash it down, a Danish beer, Ceres Red Erik that reminds one of a Belgian beer with no strong hop taste or bitterness.
There were so many fried dishes going by our table we ordered fried artichoke hearts and they were good enough to encourage me to order more fried foods from this restaurant on our next visit to Palermo. My pasta with broccoli was the one disappointment. There is a more detailed review of it on the RestoReco link on the top left of this blog. Suffice it to say, I am intrigued enough with it to try and create my own much improved version of the recipe.
The real star of the evening was the home made gnocchi with the Gorgonzola cream sauce. It was sprinkled with grated pistachio nuts and I am told it was wonderful in every way. Being allergic to mold, I could not taste it for myself. The spinach gnocchi were light and the sauce was very rich and buttery. The pistachio garnish added a nice bit of texture to the completed dish.
Via Agrigento 12
90141 Palermo Sicily
+39 091 625 9999