Palermo, May 13, 2010—OH WHAT AN EXCELLENT restaurant we found tonight, thank you Faith Willinger for having written about it, thank you Atlantic Monthly for having published her round-up; you can be sure we'll be looking for other ideas from the series of dispatches she ran last December.
Our first course reminded me of one of our first meals in Europe, at the old l'Atre Fleuri in the Chartreuse, back in 1974, when everything was new to us, and we were often excited at the table. Tonight's discovery was a unique kind of caponata, or maybe a Sicilian ratatouille. It involved apples, onions, capers, pine nuts, fennel, maybe some peppers, olive oil and salt, all bound in a light tomato sauce, and it was delicious. With it, grilled eggplant and zucchini and radicchio, and peppers à la grècque.
Next, Tagliatelle al nero d'Avola e Ragusano: pasta that must have been cooked in the red wine, which would then have been reduced and combined with cheese for the sauce — a deep, somber course, beautiful and intelligent.
Then grilled tuna steaks, served simply with a lemon half and a zucchini cup that held a kind of pesto which I'm sure involved mirto, that small-leafed myrtle I so enjoy.
Dessert was a return to the apple, served in a sort of rissole-tart and drowned in what was billed as a blanc-mange but seemed to me a thin milk custard, not entirely successful. But oh boy otherwise what a fabulous meal; if we return a few times I may have to nominate this place to the Five Restaurants.
Catarratto, Girgis, 2007