There are so many wonderful places in Taormina to experience typical Sicilian food, great hospitality and beautiful scenery. I always contact a hotel before we visit for a list of their recommended restaurants and I did this as usual but the concierge told me there was no real need to book far in advance. This was correct as everywhere we went fit us in easily. I also didn’t research the area to level I usual do as I was a bit more casual about this trip waiting to see what we felt like on the night and asking the concierge to book things at the last-minute.
Here are a nine bars and restaurants that we tried on our babymoon to Sicily.
1. Timeo Restaurant at Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo
The restaurant in our hotel, Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo, was our favourite that we tried during our time at Taormina. Which was pretty fortunate as we were on a half board package so we ate there a few times. The restaurant has an intimate indoor area but the top tables are out on the terrace with sweeping views of Mount Etna and Naxos Bay.
Guests can visit for lunch and dinner (there are two different menus) and try Sicilian classics made from local ingredients. The lunch menu features delicious antipasti such as the crispy red mullet fillets on artichoke cream that I had one day plus a list of soups, pastas and rice including a risotto with lobster, zucchini flowers and wild fennel that Mr S had one day and eggplant gnocchi with tomato and fresh oregano sauce that I loved. Main courses are a mixture of meat and fish and then traditional desserts and cheeses for afterwards.
The evening menu includes a ‘family recipes’ section which is made up of traditional dishes beloved by chef Roberto from his native Sicily. It includes the oven baked aubergine layered with tomato sauce and cheese which was a big part of my staple diet whist in Sicily.
Roberto’s signature dishes include such stunning plates as tortellini pasta filled with Sicilian Pecorino cheese and basil and Mazara red prawn. As with lunch there is a full list of anti-pasti, pasta (including the best prawn pasta I tried whilst in Sicily), soup and risotto.
And once again meat and shellfish. One night we shared a sea bass cooked in salt which was just so perfectly cooked that it melted in the mouth. It’s also prepared table side for added drama!
If you’ve come to Italy to live the dolce vita, there’s also plenty of sweet treats to choose from!
2. Restaurant Oliviero at Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea
The half board dining plan that we opted for during our stay also included lunch or dinner once a day at sister property, Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea in Taormina Mare. Restaurant Oliviero has a beautiful location overlooking the beach and the cliffs of Sicily.
We came here once for lunch and once for dinner and like the sister restaurant there are two different menus with slight variations and both incorporating fresh local ingredients and flavours.
The anti-pasti includes Italian favourites and traditional dishes, Mr S enjoyed beef carpaccio with rocket and parmesan cheese whilst I stuck to my favourite Sicilian aubergine parmigiana plus I also tried the minestrone soup.
Once again you can choose pasta, rice and soup either for starter, intermediate course or main and then there’s a fantastic selection of meat and fish with plenty of traditional dishes in the mix. At both lunch and dinner I had homemade maccheroni with aubergine and tomato sauce (because aubergine is my jam, and a so much other stuff was off the menu for me) while Mr S had the beef fillet. Again there’s good selection of dessert and cheese for after. Oliviero was our next favourite restaurant after Timeo, but we definitely enjoyed the experience more at lunch with the beautiful views of the beach and the sunshine on our faces. In the evening the restaurant was very quiet but that might be down to bad weather on the evening we went / time of year.
3. Red and White Hostaria
Red and White is one of those quiet tiny restaurants that doesn’t seem to make much noise, just sitting there quietly but trust me the food does all the talking. It’s one of those places that you have to be ‘in the know’ to find and the concierge at our hotel recommended it to us.
Owner Gianluca Savoca was born in Taormina and clearly takes huge pride in his food as he explained the whole concept to us personally. He told us he keeps the menu very small and it changes frequently as he only uses the highest quality ingredients in Sicily and dishes are traditional with a modern twist. Mr S opted for the freshest mussels to start in a light sauce whilst I had purple aubergine balls with heart of ragusa mozzarella and cherry tomato.
Main courses were a red prawn linguine for me and pollack and courgette pasta for Mr S. Despite dining in Michelin star restaurants during our stay, for me the pasta at Red and White was a contender for the best we tried! The restaurant can be found down a side street in Taormina town, about a five-minute walk from Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo. There is also a cooking school on site.
4. Bam Bar
When I heard about the famous Bam Bar, I thought it would be a bar (basically what it said on the tin) and not necessarily a top hangout during pregnancy. However, it turned put to be a cute cafe serving the most renowned granita in Sicily.
The beautiful sunshine yellow tiles at Bam Bar caught my eye before I even knew where we were and I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s a pretty Instagrammable location!
You have to order the granita when you’re there and if like me you’d never had it before it’s basically a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water and your choice of flavour. You can top it with whipped or ice cream if you wish and add a brioche in the side. I’d definitely recommend doing so as it helps no end with brain freeze!
5. St George Restaurant at The Ashbee Hotel
I wasn’t actually sure whether or not to recommend St George Restaurant at The Ashbee Hotel. We’d asked our concierge to suggest somewhere a bit special for us and St George came up as one of the Michelin-starred options. Now obviously I love fine dining but a think a restaurant still needs that perfect combination of good food and ambience plus in Italy I love a genial environment. Pictures I saw of St George depicted a beautiful view on a terrace but in the bad weather we were inside in a rather sombre dining room.
As you can see there weren’t many people there plus slightly strange music actually made the place feel a little creepy and while the service was excellent, it was so overly formal and not what we were really looking for. However, the food here was really amazing and the only place where we had true haute cuisine – the chef is German-born multi-Michelin starred Heinz Beck. Also you might be looking for somewhere very formal so St George could be a perfect option.
The meal started with a vast array of amuse bouches and perhaps one of the most generous bread baskets I’ve seen – seriously all this just for the two of us!
Raw local fish – sushi style (for Mr S)
Langoustine with courgette flowers.
Tortellini with sardines.
Maccheroncini with red prawns, aubergine coulis and bread crumb.
Lamb three ways.
Lemon catch of the day.
Mix berries frozen sphere with Earl Grey chocolate – a Heinz Beck signature dish.
6. Villa Zuccaro Osteria
Our hotel recommended Osteria Villa Zuccaro as another local place in Taormina. Keen for a pizza on a very rainy day and with a great location near our hotel, Mr S and I nipped in here for lunch.
It wasn’t the best pizza I’ve ever had but it was tasty and good value, I would be interested to try their sister restaurant Villa Zucarro Pizzeria also located in Taormina.
7. Vicolo Stretto
Vicolo Stretto was another restaurant recommended by the concierge at our hotel. I was a little dubious at first as the restaurant is reached by a very narrow and steep passage way but once you’re through that and into the intimate atmosphere of the restaurant and a terrace with a stunning view across the bay – it’s totally worth it.
Food is Sicilian with a modern twist and there’s plenty on the menu to please anyone!
I ate mozzarella and prawns for starter while Mr S had spaghetti and clams and then it was sea bass cooked Sicilian style for my main and mixed fish for his. The food wasn’t the best of the trip but the views were amazing and we appreciated the more laid back atmosphere of the restaurant.
8. La Capinera
In the small amount of research I did do La Capinera kept on coming up as the best restaurant in Taormina. With a Michelin-star and a menu by Sicily’s most famous chef, Piero D’Agostino, it seemed the perfect choice for our five-year wedding anniversary dinner. The restaurant is a little out-of-town and has a hillside location in Taormina Mare and once again I was won over by pictures of a beautiful terrace with a view. Now a little word of warning as when we arrived at La Capinera I thought we might be in the wrong place! The terrace was closed so we couldn’t sit out there anyway but had we been able to, the restaurant is literally right on the roadside and the other side over looks the railway station. Rather noisy and not as romantic as I imagined, plus the sea views I saw in the photos are beyond the railway so if you do choose to visit this restaurant, manage your expectations in this respect.
While I preferred La Capinera’s more casual, rustic interior to St George’s very formal one, I had hoped for something a little more special and I was disappointed not to be sat on a beautiful terrace for our anniversary night. But negativity out of the way, the food here was really sensational.
The menu is an interpretation of Sicilian cuisine using local produce and the food is as delicious as it is beautiful. Mr S’s large mixed marinated sea fish served with salt from Mozia and extra virgin olive oil starter looked fabulous and made me very sad about me avoidance of raw fish.
My red-mullet stuffed with mushroooms, potatoes and crispy bacon was like delicious comfort food wrapped in a package of haute cuisine!
My pasta dish was rich in taste but not overly so and consisted of aubergine and potatoes ravioli served with beef ragout and Sicilian cheese fondue while Mr S had home-made agnolotti pasta served with sea-food sauce and fresh tomatoes.
For main course Mr S chose oven-roasted red snapper fillet with lard from Nebrodi and wild fennel.
Despite my initial doubts about the location of La Capinera, there is no doubt that the food is truly excellent!
Morgana was definitely a hidden gem for us, though if you Google best bars in Taormina it is likely to come up. We decided to go for a quick drink before dinner and found Morgana down a side street in Taormina – ‘ooooh it’s Instagrammable’ I said as we walked in.
The bar has a gorgeous garden-like feel where you can sip a cocktail made from local ingredients underneath an orange tree. While I can’t vouch for the cocktails myself, the list is created by Christian Sciglio and is designed to accompany different sensations of touch, smell, and taste.
There was have it. Nine bars and restaurants that I visited in Taormina, Sicily. Have you been? Where would you recommend?
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