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Dining in Sicily

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The one thing that surpasses all language barriers is a common love for food. Since so much of Sicilian culture is expressed in its food, the dinning experience is quite special. Sicilians spend hours of preparation in the kitchen to make eating a spectacular experience therefore meals are not rushed, so plan to wait a little longer than what you may be used to when eating out. A typical Sicilian meal consists of fresh pasta, fish, meats, vegetables and fruits. The thriving agriculture yields a wide variety of local vegetables, cheeses and meats that are always available. Moreover, the bounty of the Mediterranean Sea gives Sicily the freshest seafood .

Breakfast (Colazione):
Throughout Sicily you will find many cafeteria, commonly known as bars by Italians, that will make your breakfast an unforgettable experience. Most common is a cornetto (French croissant) or other pastry with different fillings of either chocolate, white cream or jam. This meal generally goes well with hot cappuccino or caffé espresso. In Sicily, the most traditional pastry is a Raviola, filled with sweet ricotta cheese. In summer it is common to have a Granita which is a cold treat similar to an ice-cream, with a brioche, sweet bread.

Lunch (Pranzo):
As the main meal of the day, pranzo can be one to three courses, depending upon your appetite. The appetizer course is called the antipasto and followed by the primo, consisting of a pasta dish, rice or soup. The secondo is a meat or fish dish and the contorno is a salad or a vegetable dish.
See below “An Italian Menù” for more details.

Dinner (Cena):
Dinner cena, is usually lighter but it will still include bread pan, pasta and either meat or fish and salad. Once you get settled in, head out in town to experience a great meal and practice your Italian.

Eating Hours:
Breakfast 5:00 am - 11:00 am
Lunch 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Dinner 8:00 pm - 12:30 am, little later during summer period. 
Peek hour is at 9:30-10:00 pm

Eating Places:
 
Pizzeria:
Place where varieties of pizza are served, and can sometimes be combined with a ‘Ristorante”. Pizza is a Neapolitan specialty, but Sicily has inherited all the secrets to offer their customers an unforgettable experience. Pizzas are generally baked in large wood-burning ovens forno a legna and can be ordered in different sizes such as small or piccola, portion for a child., medium or media, an adult portion and large or Maxi pizza for family (not all pizzerias offer this size). Pizza is made with lots of fresh ingredients, including tomatoes, mozzarella, meats, seafood and vegetables. Tip: In Italy, pepperoni is a bell pepper, so if you want a pepperoni pizza you should ask for a pizza with “salame piccante”. Most pizzerias are open only in the evenings.

Trattoria:
It’s a family owned, home-style cooking offered in a more relaxed dining atmosphere.

Ristorante:
restaurant; varies in standards

Agriturismo:
Farm located restaurants with a set menù where you can enjoy great local food in a very relaxing atmosphere. Most of these facilities have rooms for overnight stay at a very reasonable price.

Bills & Tips
Italian restaurants do not bring out the bill automatically when you finish, get the waiters attention and ask for il Conto. The tip mancia is not included in the bill and it is customary to tip about 10%. Tips are always left on table and can not be added to your credit card. Bills may indicate coperto, which varies between € 1.50 to € 3.00, to cover the cost of bread, linens and silverware. Note: Coperto should not be mistaken as the tip

Tavola Calda / Snack Bar / Panineria:
These will serve you with quick, light snacks and beverages. Tavola calda is found in most bars and some typical snacks are the arancini, cipollina, cartocciata, pizzetta, siciliana

An Italian Menu

Antipasti: appetizer
These dishes are generally highly flavored and the many varieties are available to ‘whet’ your appetite. In some restaurants you can choose your antipasti, you may have a choice of cured meats, vegetables, cheese or seafood. Tip: butter burro, is not served when eating out at restaurants.

Primo:
Pasta is eaten after the antipasto and before the main meat or fish dish. The wide variety of shapes and sauces make this a popular course and sometimes the main course. Sicily is known for its pasta alla Norma, spaghetti al Nero, pasta al Pistacchioand linguine alla Pescatora. Generally, Italians do not use cheese on seafood pasta, or eat bread with their pasta.

Secondo: Meat, fish or vegetables
A selection of meat carne, like beef manzo, veal vitello, pork maiale or chicken pollo. Horse cavallo is part of the Italian diet, so it is common to see it on the menù in some restaurants and in many panini stands, which are located through out the cities. Keep in mind that when you see bisteccaon the munu, they will serve you a thin cut of meat gernerally grilled, to get a thick cut, similar to T bone, ask for a bistecca alla fiorentina. Fish pesce, prepared in many different ways, baked al forno, fried fritto or soup zuppa. Fish being so bountiful, your experience going to seafood restaurants will be unforgettable. At seafood restaurants, the head of the fish is generally not taken off when served, however if you ask, they will debone it for you. Dressing for fish is mainly just lemon and olive oil.

Contorno: Side dish
Consists in a salad insalata, vegetables verdure dressed with olive oil, salt, white or balsamic vinegar. Other dressings like ranch, 1000 island, blue cheese etc. are not offered. Salad is not served at the beginning but with the meat or fish dish as well as bread pane which is loved by most Italians. When in season, fennel or finocchio is available as or with your salad. For the joy of kids and not only, French fries patatine fritte will be listed as side dish or appetizer.

Bevande: Beverages
A bottle of fizzy water, aqcua frizzante, or natural naturale is often ordered along with wine. Coca Cola, orange soda aranciata or beer birra, are also common drinks to order. Diet Coke or “Coca Cola light” is not common at restaurants. A typical Italian soda is Chinotto. It is uncommon for a single glass of wine to be served. The house wine, vino di casa, is often good and inexpensive, usually served in a jug for about € 3,00 to €5,00 or you can ask for the wine list and get a bottle of red rosso or white bianco, wine to accompany your dinner;.

Frutta: Fruit
Fresh fruit abounds in Sicily, especially citrus fruits (oranges, tangerines). Practically every month of the year, Italy is harvesting a different seasonal fruit, frutta di stagione, will be listed on the menu.

Dolci: Desserts
Cannoli, tiramisu', babà, and a large variety of gelato or ice cream are a few of your choices, those who have a sweet tooth feel like they are in heaven!

At The Bar
Italians refer to a bar as a cafeteria. Major types of coffees are: caffe` espressoand cappuccino, which comes in a standard size. American coffee is not served in bars, but when ordered, they will put an epresso in a large glass and fill it up with hot water. Other variations are caffe` macchiato which is espresso with milk latte macchiato a glass of milk with a small quantity of coffee without foam. Other popular drinks include hot chocolate cioccolata calda in winter time, icy cold espresso caffè freddo, and almond juice latte di mandorla in the summer time.The proper procedure is to get a receipt scontrino from the cashier, take it to the bar tender to order. Some Italian people leave a small tip when they order their drink. Most Italians have their cappuccino or coffee standing up. With an extra charge, bars will offer tables, chairs and the option for waiter’s service. Some bars in minor tourist areas will allow you to use tables and chairs without waiter service at no extra cost.

 

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