Sunday, January 8, 2017

Bella Sicilia: Parte Sesta (part six) - Ristorante Duomo, Ragusa

Chocolates at Duomo
Happy New Year, dear readers, I hope you had a wonderful holiday season!

Well, here we are at the end of my Sicily travelogue. Writing this for you has helped me relive how beautiful this trip was. I saved something special for my last Sicily post: the extraordinary lunch we had at Ristorante Duomo in the charming hill town of Ragusa. I hope you enjoyed this virtual journey as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Helmed by Ciccio Sultana (chef/owner), Duomo is everything you might expect at a Michelin starred restaurant: exquisite food, gracious service, beautiful surroundings (a food stall in Singapore earned a Michelin star in 2016 so remember fabulous food can be found anywhere).

Terry and Chef Ciccio
As you may know, when I travel I spend a great deal of time researching food and restaurants at my destination, and Sicily was no different. To me this is not drudge work, I love reading about the foods and restaurants at our upcoming destinations. A search turned up many good possibilities in the area, including four Michelin starred locales in the 2017 guide. After deciding on Duomo, I asked our tour leader to make a lunch reservation for us, and that morning during a walking tour of the city, we happened to pass by the restaurant. To my delight, Chef Ciccio was outside making a phone call and he kindly took a picture with me. I’m sure it was no big deal to him, but it made my day!

The lunch menu at Duomo is prix fixe, and quite the bargain 
 I think. For 59 Euros, you get five courses (with a couple of extra surprises), and three glasses of wine/champagne. The full menu is below. From beginning to end, this lunch was outstanding, and must go on my “top five” list* of memorable meals.
bread basket

Duomo Lunch:

smoked swordfish
  • Smoked swordfish with cantaloupe melon salad and pistachio sauce, with an olive stuffed pistachio marzipan and mock pit
  • spaghettone
  • Homemade spaghettone with moresca sauce “taratata” with tuna bottarga and carrot cream
  • truffle ice cream
  • Sicilian scorzone truffle ice cream
  • amberjack
  • Amberjack with Hyblean caper blossom powder, “Fiore” black olives stuffed with Pizzuta d’Avola almond, green beans, smoked sauce
  • cannolo
    espresso
  • Cannolo stuffed with Ragusa ricotta on lukewarm San Cono prickly pear soup served with Pizzuta d’Avola almond sorbet
  • Housemade chocolates

As I mentioned in Parte Due, one of my reasons for wanting to go to Sicily was to seek out any ancestral ties on my mother’s side. In corresponding with our trip leader, Alessio, before the trip, I told him that I was looking for connections to my mother’s family who had emigrated to the US from Palermo in the early 1900s. I told him the family name was Librizzi and perhaps he could help me research it when we got to Sicily. A short time later, Alessio responded that his wife’s maiden name is Li Brizzi, and he would be happy to introduce us. I nearly cried when I read that! What are the chances that our tour guide’s wife would have the same last name (albeit with a slightly different spelling) as my mother’s family? Pretty slim, I think. 

On our last evening in Palermo, Alessio invited the entire group to join him, his beautiful wife Cristina, and their two adorable boys for dinner.  I didn’t get to spend much time talking with Cristina, and most likely we are not related, but when Alessio said “no matter, we are “cugini" (cousins) and you will always have family here in Sicily,” I felt like the connection that I have always felt to this beautiful island was more real now than ever before. 

Ciao, bella Sicilia, fino al mio ritorno! (until I return).


* My “top five” (in no particular order):

Chez Panisse, Berkeley, CA
Vetri, Philadelphia, PA
Duomo, Ragusa, Sicily
Steireck, Vienna, Austria
The Lost Kitchen, Freedom, ME

Upcoming in early 2017: lunch at NYC's Bouley and the food scene in Sarasota, Florida! 

Stay warm, eat well, be happy!




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