10 Things to eat in Taormina and where

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Martí Micolau

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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Located on top of Mount Tauro, Taormina is an authentic jewel of the eastern side of Sicily and is located in the province of Messina. It offers breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea on one side and wonderful views of the Etna volcano on the other.

Together with the important cultural and artistic beauties, the city it is also famous for its vast gastronomic culture which makes it an indispensable and undisputed destination of Sicily. His kitchen, as indeed its history, it is linked to Greek, Arab and Norman culture, a combination that has given life to dishes with a unique flavor. Find out the 10 things to eat in Taormina and where.


  1. Swordfish rolls
  2. Pasta to the norm
  3. caponata
  4. Cuzzole or cudduruni
  5. Croquette
  6. Cannoli with ricotta
  7. Brioche with ice cream or granita
  8. Pasta with sardines
  9. Octopus salad
  10. Focaccia messinese
  11. Where to eat in Taormina: best restaurants, typical bars and street food
  12. User questions and comments

1 - Swordfish rolls

It is one of the main pillars of Sicilian culinary culture and the fish used to prepare them is considered "noble" because of its distant and ancient origins: the Phoenicians, the Greeks and even the Roman people prepared their dishes based on this exquisite fish.

There are several variants at the base of the preparation (with reference to the ingredients used), however it generally consists of stuff thin slices of fish with an excellent filling based on breadcrumbs, which is seasoned with pine nuts, olives, capers, tomatoes, garlic and fresh basil. The final roll will then be breaded with breadcrumbs and olive oil. A goodness for the eyes and for the palate.

  • Recommended to: lunch and dinner
  • Average cost: € 12,00
  • Main ingredients: breadcrumbs, pine nuts, olives, capers, tomatoes, garlic and fresh basil

2 - Pasta alla norma

Among the must-sees not to be missed, the dish has a strong link with Taormina and the Catania area has even been elected as a favorite regional gastronomic specialty by Italians!
It is a dish made from macaroni (usually) seasoned with tomato sauce to which fried aubergines, ricotta salata and fresh basil are subsequently added.

The name of this dish seems to have been given to the famous Catania playwright Nino Martoglio, who, seeing and tasting this inviting dish for the first time in his life, exclaimed "Chista è 'na vera Norma!" (this is the real Norma!), comparing it to the great masterpiece of the composer Vincenzo Bellini.

  • Recommended to: lunch and dinner
  • Average cost: € 10,00
  • Main ingredients: pasta, fried aubergines, salted ricotta and fresh basil

3 - Caponata

Dish known for its delicacy and uniqueness, it is one of the cornerstones of Sicilian cuisine.
Not everyone knows that it owes its name to the fact that, among the ingredients at the base of the recipe, there was originally the delicious capone fish; however, the "poor" cuisine over the years has replaced it with the ingredients known today which are aubergines and other types of vegetables.

After frying the eggplant, the tomato pulp is added cooked with onion and celery, and then everything is mixed with the other ingredients: olives, capers, salt, pepper, vinegar and sugar.

  • Recommended to: lunch and dinner
  • Average cost: € 10,00
  • Main ingredients: aubergines, onions, tomato pulp, olives, capers, celery, vinegar, salt, pepper

4 - Cuzzole or cudduruni

In Sicily fried bread dough has a long tradition, it takes different names and is loved by all its islanders and especially by those who taste it for the first time; to be enjoyed both sweet and savory, the cuzzole are nothing more than pieces of fried bread sprinkled with sugar. In ancient times, Sicilian mothers kneaded the bread in the house for the whole family weekly, according to an ancient and traditional rite and, with the remaining pieces, I prepared these simple but exquisite sweets, a custom today that has remained alive even in many families!

These "cudduruni" today are also served in the best restaurants and are present as street food in various village festivals.

  • Recommended to: always
  • Average cost: € 4,00
  • Main ingredients: bread, oil, sugar

5 - Arancino

The most famous fried rice ball in the world is one of the specialties not to be missed: for its fame it has been included in the list of traditional Italian food products (PAT) with the official name of "rice arancini".

Regarding its origins, not many know that there is a lexical diatribe between the western and eastern sides of the island: while in Palermo the arancina is female, in the Catania area it is male, so if you go to a restaurant in Taormina you always have to ask for an arancino!

Its "birth" boasts Arab origins (the Arabs introduced rice in Sicily), the stuffed meat sauce and the breading have Norman origins. Today, the filling of this fried rice ball can be varied: ragù, salmon, ham but in Tormina you must not miss the pistachio one!

  • Recommended to: lunch, dinner, snack
  • Average cost: € 2,00
  • Main ingredients: rice, breadcrumbs, meat sauce and peas

6 - Cannoli with ricotta

It is a typical culinary specialty of Sicilian pastry, its name is linked to the river reeds around which in ancient times the wafers were rolled during preparation.
Regarding the origins there are two well-rooted hypotheses: the first places their birth in remote times to celebrate the carnival, the other even traces them back to the Roman and Saracen peoples. Another tradition traces them back to a carnival joke that consisted in making the ricotta cream come out of the cannolo instead of the water. This dessert was born in the territory of Caltanisetta and began to enjoy notoriety in Palermo who perfect the recipe together with the Messina pastry chefs, who invented the variant with dark ricotta and chocolate cream.

It is a fried dough wafer with a filling made with sifted and sweetened sheep's milk ricotta, to which candied fruit and chocolate chips are added, finally sprinkled with powdered sugar. You will find cannoli everywhere!

  • Recommended to: always
  • Average cost: € 2,00
  • Main ingredients: waffle of pasta, oil, sheep's milk ricotta, sugar, candied fruit and chocolate

7 - Brioche with ice cream or granita

It is really unthinkable not to taste it: it is not just any brioche, but the "brioscia cu tuppu", a name that derives from the shape that recalls the traditional chignon that in ancient times Sicilian women wore and which was called tuppo.
It is a soft sweet made from sweetened pastry baked in the oven, with a unique flavor and that absolutely goes enjoyed with ice cream, even better, with granita.

During the summer, the brioche with ice cream is also consumed for breakfast by many Sicilians, even if this delicacy does not disdain even for a tasty afternoon snack!

  • Recommended to: breakfast, snack
  • Average cost: € 5,00
  • Main ingredients: flour, sugar, eggs, honey, orange peel, milk, lard, salt, brewer's yeast, ice cream

8 - Pasta with sardines

In Sicilian "pasta chi sardi", it is a unique delicacy of Sicilian cuisine.
This rich pasta dish is recommended eat it in the period between March and September, a moment in which the freshest sardines are found and in which the wild fennel, a fundamental ingredient, after the sardines.

Tradition has it that it was invented by a cook of Arab origins in the service of General Eufemio da Messina who needed to feed his troops in a military campaign in the Syracuse area; another legend tells that instead of the general being on a mission in the mazara del vallo area and that here, having to create a dish with only the poor ingredients he had available, he used the humblest flavors of the earth (i.e. pine nuts and fennel that grows spontaneously in the fields) and period fish (sardines).

  • Recommended to: Lunch Dinner
  • Average cost: € 10,00
  • Main ingredients: pasta, wild fennel, pine nuts, sardines

9 - Octopus salad

Octopus is an extremely widespread fish in the Mediterranean Sea and, for this reason, dishes based on this tasty fish in many different variations are very popular throughout Southern Italy.
The land in which this fish has seen its culinary "growth" is Sicily.
In fact, the Palermitans were the first cooks to study the recipes, revealing that the secret to preparing an excellent octopus is cooking! Today the main and widespread recipe also in the territory of Taormina provides for the cooking of octopus which is cooled and subsequently comes then seasoned with lemon, garlic, oil and parsley.

  • Recommended to: lunch, dinner, snack
  • Average cost: € 7,00
  • Main ingredients: octopus, lemon, garlic, oil and parsley

10 - Focaccia from Messina

It is a widespread focaccia, easily understood, in the province of Messina and obviously also in the city of Taormina: it is a very soft and high dough which is baked in the oven and is covered with anchovies, escarole, cheese of various kinds (tuma or mozzarella) and chopped tomatoes.

The recipe has ancient origins, in fact this focaccia was prepared for the first time in the early twentieth century by Messina bakers and did not include the use of tomatoes.
You will find the messinese focaccia in all the rotisseries and bakeries, however there are also many variations in the rest of the Sicilian provinces.

  • Recommended to: lunch, dinner, snack
  • Average cost: € 2,00
  • Main ingredients: salty pasta, anchovies, tomato, salt, cheese

Where to eat in Taormina: best restaurants, typical bars and street food

Taormina is full of clubs and restaurants for all tastes and budgets: you will find starred and luxury restaurants, but also small bistros and bars where you can taste the best Sicilian delicacies, from take-away foods to the most typical first and second courses (pasta with sardines or grilled fish).

The central streets of the city are certainly the most popular and beautiful ones ever, enjoying an excellent ice cream looking out from the terrace of the belvedere is truly priceless and is a habit for locals who go there especially in the evening.
Whether it's time for breakfast, lunch or dinner, you will always find an outdoor place to go to taste some Sicilian delicacies! Here are the best places to eat in Taormina.

1 - La Capinera

  • Description: Michelin-starred restaurant, is one of the best restaurants in Italy that offers catch of the day, dishes based on fresh vegetables and all the Sicilian excellences
  • specialty: fresh fish dishes
  • Average price: from € 65,00 per person
  • Address: via Nazionale, 177 - Get directions / tel: 338 158 8013

2 - Osteria Rosso Divino

  • Description: restaurant-wine bar located in the heart of Taormina, offers meat and fish specialties prepared in the show kitchen
  • specialty: octopus salad with almonds
  • Average price: from € 35,00 per person
  • Address: vico De Spuches, 8 - Get directions / tel: 0942 628653

3 - Trattoria Don Ciccio

  • Description: restaurant with a sober and familiar look, specializing in traditional Sicilian cuisine, in particular in the creation of fish-based dishes
  • specialty: caponata
  • Average price: from € 20,00 per person
  • Address: via Damiano Rosso, 19 - Get directions / tel: 0942 628341

4 - From Cristina Taormina

  • Description: a few steps from the Duomo, this is a small restaurant-fast food that offers homemade cuisine at affordable prices
  • specialty: arancini
  • Average price: from € 5,00 per person
  • Address: via Strabone, 2 - Get directions / tel: 0942 21171

5 - Sicilian Bistrot Sikè

  • Description: restaurant-bistro with terrace that offers a suggestive view, offers typical Sicilian dishes with sea and land products
  • specialty: dishes based on fish
  • Average price: from € 17,00 per person
  • Address: Corso Umberto, 104 - Get directions / tel: 0942 24677

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