The foods in this section are specialties like “panelle, crocche’, vasteddi,
arancine, caciu alla argintera”, and other dishes and finger foods that are Sicilian delicacies and gourmet
foods, and served as appetizers in many restaurants and households.
Also it is included a recipe for pastetta, a batter used for
frying vegetables, fish or cheeses or to make special sweet fried
In my family, it was a rarity when appetizers were served before dinner, however a lunch or a dinner made up only
of various specialties and some appetizers were not so infrequent and it was well accepted by
“Il Festino”, the festivity of Saint
Rosalie was celebrated in my family with this type of food. The “Festino” was three days long and the most
important was the last day when the feast was concluded with fireworks, located in barges near the shore in
the gulf of Palermo and ignited with a brilliant display
of lights and sounds. Our cousins Barbaro’s house had a terrace overlooking the sea and from this terrace we viewed
the spectacular fireworks and celebrated the event with special foods.
The specialties consisted of vasteddi, panelle, sfincione, rice balls, prepared by “zia
Ciccinedda” and the “stighioli” the milk feed lamb‘s innards prepared by cousin Pino DeRosalia whose family was in
the meat business. Also an abundant quantity of “babaluci”, snails, were prepared and eaten by everybody. And very
importantly for us children, my mother prepared the “sfingi” sweet fritters, to conclude the saint's festivities.
We were indoctrinated from childhood to have respect and celebrate all holidays, taught prayers and the skill to
eat snails, how to appreciate the simple chickpea fritters like the panelli.
In recent times, many restaurants in the countryside have a fixed price dinner at a set
time and everybody is served the same menu, made of many courses and many local specialty
including freshly made ricotta, homemade pasta and sausages, prepared in the open kitchen in view of the patrons,
seasonal specialties and also
grilled eggplants and zucchine, just harvested in the nearby field, fresh fish from the local waters, baked in bed
of fresh vegetables, a variety of contorni, side dishes and cheeses
accompanied and local wines; to complete this hearty meal, cassate, cannoli
and other homemade desserts and limoncello, made with the lemons growing in their back yards, is served to
thepleased and satisfied customers.
visit Sicily, I suggest you go to a “friggitoria” a kind of a fast food establishment and enjoy a
lunch usually standing up. Sample some of the food they make :the “spiedino ca’ béciamela”, a Sicilian kebab with
béchamel, “fritto misto” which includes artichokes fried in batter, croquettes made with milk, and fried veal
brain, taste the “gratto’” which is a potato cake, or the “vrocculi a’ pastetta”, fried cauliflower. If you visit a
“friggitoria or focacceria” in Palermo, the “vasteddi, panelle, crocche’ di patate, calamaru frittu” and the
“maccarronello” small fish, fried to a crispy consistency, are just a few of the most common delicacies; more
sophisticated places have table service and on their menu have listed tripe “alla levitana” , sardines “a
beccafico”, fried eggplant and the “caponatina”.
“Boiled polpo” can be sampled in Palermo at the famous open market called “Vucciria” There in some kind of
rudimental kiosks, “polpo” the octopus, is boiled in front of you and you can taste the sweetest and most delicious
and tender “polpo” that cannot be found anywhere.
At Joe’s of Avenue U, the Focacceria
Palermitana in Brooklyn, we brought some of those culinary
traditions into the U.S.A.
We adapted those specialties to the
availability of the local supply and most importantly to the changed taste and trend of our customers without
sacrificing the traditional taste and by using quality ingredients.
We prepared a selection of specialty foods that appealed to the old timer, to the Sicilian-American, to the
occasional food adventurer and to the liking of the sophisticate gourmets. Our “Cucina Siciliana” was known further
than the tri-state area, the customers who moved away would visit us if they made a stop over
York and through recommendations, new
customers came in every day.
We served with pride our specialties and offered not only a gastronomic experience but a fantastic journey
to Sicily and to memories of days gone