I can’t help but to think of food when I think of Italy. Does that happen to you, too?
What’s super cool is that each region of Italy is known for different food. But which ones are local and the perfect thing to eat? Good question! That’s why we have this list of 6 foods to try in Catania, Sicily.
In case you don’t know, Sicily is an island just off the coast of mainland Italy, on the south-side. It’s a beautiful island with a TON of history…and amazing food. So many cultures have passed through Sicily, and when they left, they left behind their best foods. Mix all of that with traditional Italian food, and you get Sicilian cuisine!
There are plenty of foods special to Sicily, but I’m a fan of narrowing things down so I don’t get overwhelmed with choice. These are my favorite foods from Sicily that I think you’ll love, too. If your favorite Sicilian food isn’t on here, let us know what it is in the comments below!
Watch our video on our favorite things to eat in Sicily
Number one food to try in Sicily is the Cannolo
That wasn’t much of a surprise, was it? It was the first Sicilian food I learned about…though I have no idea why!
What is a cannolo? You may know it as cannoli, but that’s just the plural version. It’s a fried pastry shell filled with delicious sweet ricotta piped inside. In case you’re like me and thinking, “that just sounds weird,” it’s probably different than you imagine. I recommend only trying a cannolo in a place that someone recommends to you. A bad cannolo could turn you off from tasting it again. Or you just might think that it’s nothing special. But when you get a good one…it’s magic.
There are different varieties. Sometimes you’ll get chocolate on the inside, you might find chocolate chips mixed in with the ricotta, you may find a candied orange slice on the end, or maybe pistachios or almonds. There are no bad options here.
Eating seafood on an island is a must
My favorite seafood to eat in Catania were the prawns…I just love prawns. Sean’s favorite was the octopus. But with a fresh fish market in the heart of Catania, you can’t go wrong!
There are plenty of fish restaurants in the town, but head to one by the fish market so you can take in all the sights, sounds…and smells that go along with catching and selling the fresh fish.
Always ask the restaurant what the fish of the day is and how they recommend preparing it. They want you to have a good meal, so they won’t steer you astray. And be prepared to try something new. Whether you’ve been to Sicily before or not, always keep an open mind when it comes to food.
Arancini will be your new favorite snack
If I’m being honest, I used to find arancini to be a bit overhyped. Like, ok, cool, it’s a rice ball with flavor. That all shifted in Catania. I love that we all grow and learn to appreciate things we may not have appreciated before. It’s also a case of my first couple not being super great.
In Catania, I had the ragu arancini and my life has been forever changed. If you watched our video on these foods to try, you’ll see my reaction. It was so good. In that moment, I said that it tasted like spaghetti in rice form. What I meant was that it was like a proper ragu meat sauce in rice form. Translation: DELICIOUS!
Now, I love arancini. It’s a great on-the-go snack. This fried-rice ball is more than the sum of its parts, and I think that it’s a super fun hand-held food.
Try an Iris for a not-too-sweet treat
This food is named after an opera that premiered in Palermo, Sicily…not the part of the eye (thought it can look like an eye). It was created in 1901 and the name stuck! I think an American would quickly compare it to a filled donut due to its size, shape, ingredients. It’s a bun created from a yeast dough with either ricotta (the traditional version), vanilla cream, or chocolate cream.
Unlike a donut, it’s not sickenly sweet and is filled quite well on the inside. We had the chocolate-filled version which made it taste more like a donut then a ricotta-filled one might. Either way, it’s a nice snack and perfect for anyone who doesn’t like their sweets being too sweet.
Minne di Sant’Agata
This dessert is a representation of courage — the courage of a girl. When she would not refuse her faith and give into the advances of a powerful man, she was punished. Her breasts were cut off and she died from her wounds.
That is pretty gruesome, but the Sicilians have admired this girl for over a millenia and these treats are created in her honor. They also have festivities in her honor in February, but you’ll find these confections any time of year.
Again, we see ricotta being used (I’m not complaining!), but also marzipan and powdered sugar. It’s made in the shape of a breast with a candied cherry on top. We’ve had some that were super sweet but when you find the right one, you just know. Ok, it may not be your life partner, but you’ll want to check this place out when in Catania.
Granita with brioche
Apparently, you should eat this for breakfast! That feels strange for this American since granita is a semi-frozen flavored ice-type dish. Lemon is very traditional in the summer, but coffee flavor is always an option. Makes sense, because then you’ll have your coffee and caffine in the food!
In Sicily, you eat your granita with a brioche. Go ahead, and make it as fun as you want! There’s no right way to eat them together. Use the brioche as a scoop for the granita or eat them separately. It’s such a refreshing and tasty treat…in the morning or anytime of day. The texture differences are pretty drastic and I have to say, I think the brioche helps from getting a brain freeze!
A DIY food tour map:
Which of these look or sound the best to you? There are so many amazing Sicilian foods and this is only a taste. It’s a taste of what I like to eat and what I found the most fun and interesting.
My advice is to try whatever looks good and I hope this serves as a rough guide as to your options. If nothing else, this little DIY food tour is perfect if you want to make your own DIY food tour of Catania, Sicily.
Wishing you joy and travels!