How much heterogeneity in Catania cuisine: the answer to the question “what to eat in Catania” would result in an infinite list of typical products, which also vary according to the time of year.
The result of a mixture of peoples – Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Jews, Normans, Spaniards and others -, each of which has left its mark, bringing ways of cooking and ingredients of its own tradition, involving the tables, from the popular to the nobles. And it is perhaps more appropriate to start from the ingredients : they tell their story, which is intertwined with that of the city, and can be easily found in the many typical preparations of Catania.
Among the vegetables, the queen of Catania cuisine is the aubergine . The journey of the aubergine is long, coming from Asia; its importers in the South (and most likely in Sicily as a landing place), the Arabs. It earns pride of place at the table, first of all passing through the pan: it is fried, in fact, which is most used (and appreciated).
The dishes in which the fried aubergine is the protagonist are, first of all, two: the pasta alla norma and the parmigiana , in both cases accompanied by tomato and cheese. Starting from these, the norm can be found in the form of pizza, as well as the arancini alla norma (typicality more typicality!). Parmigiana is prepared in many ways: from the basic three-ingredient preparation, to variations on the theme to which eggs, ham, different types of cheeses, and different forms are added. Also light versions: with roasted aubergines instead of fried.
Even the street food in Catania has its own peculiarity: not only made of “fish coppi” and diner (in its many forms: arancini, pizzette, cartocciate, onions and so on), but also of much more substantial foods. Among all, horse meat . Initially considered a popular product, the prerogative of the lower classes, the soul of this ingredient remains popular but also conquers the restaurants in the city center.
It is the undisputed protagonist of the “arrusti and tip” , that is, of those meats cooked on the grill and to be eaten while still hot. From the most typical meatball to the roast slice of meat, to rolls, even sausage: there are many ways to consume horse meat, accompanied by a generous brushing of a mixture of oil, salt, vinegar and oregano, and put inside a sandwich.
The green gold of Etna: it is the Bronte pistachio , beware of imitations. Even this imported by the Arabs, who graft it into Etna’s soil and devise a way of cultivating it that has been handed down almost identical for centuries, becomes a versatile ingredient, used in both sweet and savory preparations.
An appetizer could be made from marinated anchovies or sardines, or fried in batter and served with squid, shrimp, baby octopus: it is easy to find places that serve fried fish based on the catch of the day. The first, however, strictly pasta with sardines : a dish with a thousand aromas, from fish to fennel, to pine nuts. And, finally, sardines a beccafico : a recipe borrowed from the tables of the rich, where the beccafico is a prized bird served stuffed. The “low people” appropriates it and replaces the game with the cheaper sardines: and the result is even better than the original!
And finally, the ricotta. If on the one hand Catania has the sea, on the other it has expanses of countryside, hills, mountains, places with a vocation not only agricultural but also pastoral. And from this hinterland come the strong flavors of cheeses, and above all ricotta.
If, on the other hand, you would like to enjoy a moment of relaxation and have a taste of all these goodness, the Sale Ristorante – Pizzeria is the place for you. If it is true that Catania cuisine is made up of both dishes but also of typical ingredients, it is precisely on these that we based our idea of cuisine: indebted to tradition, but also open to new interpretations of typical dishes, for flavors that are known and surprising at the same time.
Consult the menu and come and visit us: you will find us in via Santa Filomena 10 , in what is now the acclaimed distric food of Catania.