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
Also included is a recipe for pastetta, a batter
used for frying vegetables, fish or cheese
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 was not so
infrequent and was well accepted by everyone.
Festino, the celebration of
Saint Rosalia, 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 cousin 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 (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 important to us children, my mother prepared sfingi, sweet fritters, to conclude the saint's festivities. From childhood, we
were indoctrinated to respect and celebrate all holidays and were taught prayers, the skill to eat snails and how
to appreciate simple chickpea fritters, like the panelli.
times, many restaurants in the countryside have a prix fixe dinner at a set time, where everybody is served the
same menu, made of many courses and local specialties including freshly made ricotta, homemade pasta and
sausages prepared in the open kitchen in view of the patrons grilled eggplants and zucchini just harvested in
the nearby field, fresh fish from the local waters and baked in a bed of fresh vegetables, a variety of
contorni (side dishes) and cheeses accompanied by local wines. To
complete this hearty meal, cassate, cannoli and other homemade
desserts and limoncello, made with the lemons growing in their
backyards, are served to the satisfied customers.
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 their menus list tripe alla levitana, sardines a
beccafico, fried eggplant and caponatina.
Boiled polpo can be sampled in Palermo at the famous open market called
“Vucciria.” There, in rudimentary kiosks, polpo, or octopus, is boiled in front of you, and you can taste the sweetest,
most delicious and tender polpo that cannot be found anywhere
At Joe’s of
Avenue U, the Focacceria Palermitana in
brought some of those culinary traditions into the
those specialties to the availability of the local supply and, most importantly, to the different taste
preferences and trends of our customers without sacrificing the traditional taste and by still using quality
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 sophisticated gourmands. Our “Cucina Siciliana” was known further
than the tri-state area, as the customers who moved away would visit us if they made a stopover
and, through recommendations, new customers came in every day.
We served our
specialties with pride and offered not only a gastronomic experience but a fantastic journey
of days gone by.