10 of the Best Sicilian Foods Not to Miss When Visiting

Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on May 24, 2024.

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It is hard to beat Sicilian food, and when exploring the island, you really have your work cut out for you with all the delicious dishes to try.

While there are far more than 10 iconic foods you must try in Sicily, these were a few of our favorites that we would order again and again. So do not miss these foods (and some recommended spots to try them) here!

Busiate

Busiate Con Le Sarde

Busiate is a unique pasta shape originating from western Sicily that can be found throughout the island. This one features a unique twirl that makes it look almost like an old telephone cord that offers a fantastic texture and the ability to hold on to ample amounts of sauce.

Two styles of Busiate dishes you'll want to seek out are Busiate Con Le Sarde, a rich and savory pasta with sardines, pine nuts, in an oil-based sauce and Busiate Con Pesto Trapanese, with a vibrant Trapani style pesto made with tomatoes and, often, almonds (although we found some without).

Where to try: Although busiate is on the menu all over the island, head over to Trapani for some of the best iterations of the dish that originated in the region. Virtually every restaurant we went to had iterations of this dish!

Pasta alla Norma

Pasta Alla Norma

Pasta alla Norma may be one of the more famous Siclian dishes that many may not think originated on the island. The name of the game with this particular pasta is a hearty helping of Sicily's delicious eggplants, a rich tomato sauce, and a mound of ricotta salata cheese on top for good measure.

Be on the look out for other dishes “alla Norma” which will likely include tomatoes, eggplant, and ricotta salata in some capacity- we found it on a pizza in a small town near Etna and loved the take!

Where to try: Much like Busiate, you'll find Pasta alla Norma all over; however, Trattoria La Bettola in Ragusa's old town made a stellar version. Be sure to get a reservation here.

Couscous Alla Trapanese

Couscous Alla Trapanese

In being so close to the coast of Africa, you would expect some influences to work their way into the cuisine of Sicily. One dish that encapsulates this perfectly is Couscous Alla Trapanese.

This dish has all of the hallmarks of a great Middle Eastern dish, delicious couscous cooked with a wealth of warming spices, but often topped with delicious seafood to bring it back squarely to Italian!

Where to try: Much like Busiate, Couscous Alla Trapanese is famous on the western side of Sicily, particularly in its namesake Trapani. We enjoyed this one at Maree in the heart of the old town, but it was available at many restaurants.

Genovesi Ericine

Genovesi Ericine

Every destination should have a famous pastry, and one regionally specific dessert is Genovesi Ericine, made in the hilltop town of Erice just outside of Trapani.

This one is a round shortcrust pastry filled with delectable lemon cream and served with a light dusting of powdered sugar on top. As Sicilian lemons are a treat not to miss in their own right, this one comes together for the perfect bite.

Where to try: Although you can find some Genovesi in Trapani, this one originated in the mountain town of Erice nearby. Bakeries like Pasticceria Maria Grammatico have been making this one for decades, and it is a must-stop when exploring the beautiful town.

Arancini

Arancini

Arancini is one of those ubiquitous foods of Sicily that can be enjoyed as a snack, a meal, or however you choose. These rice balls are filled, often with a ragu or other fun fillings, battered, and deep fried. There are also regional variations in terms of shapes, with some forming theirs into spheres and others forming into a more egg-like shape.

Where to try: Don't worry, you're going to find arancini everywhere in Sicily. However, we do recommend enjoying this one for lunch shortly after they come out of the oven for maximum freshness.

Sicilian Lemons

Lemons on Bam Bar Art

It may feel a bit weird to talk about a commonly grown fruit as a must-try when in a destination, but Sicilian lemons are in a league of their own.

There are many reasons for this, but it all comes down to the fact that every favorable feature you look for can be found in this lemon. It has a perfect sweet and acidic balance, the pith is quite thin, the skin is loaded with oils, seeds are minimal, and so on. Think of just about every use there is for a lemon, and Sicilian lemons will be a perfect match almost every time. 

Where to try: Lemons can be found all over the island and served alongside many meals, in many desserts, and, of course, in granita- perhaps the best use of this lovely ingredient.

Granita

Granita at Bam Bar

When you think of ice desserts in Italy, odds are good your first thought turns to gelato- the famous ice cream known worldwide as being truly Italian. While you can find excellent gelato in Sicily, too, their treat of choice is granita, a form of shaved ice. The ingredients of fruit, water, and sugar are mixed together and frozen, then shaved, frozen again, and so on until you get a texture that, when done well, is really hard to beat.

Throw on a top of homemade cream and a side of a warm brioche roll to enjoy the granita with, and you have the perfect treat on a hot day. Try it with the famous lemon, but branch out to other local flavors as well. Sicilian blood orange was a personal favorite!

Where to try: You'll find granita shops all over Sicily, but the tried and true favorite is Bam Bar in Taormina. Don't let any line deter you, it is worth the wait. We even went twice on the same day in our last visit! On the west coast, don't overlook Colicchia Francesco in Trapani, too.

Eggplant Caponata

Eggplant Caponata

Caponata is another tried-and-true Sicilian dish that is often served as a side. This one features eggplant as the main ingredient plus other ingredients like peppers, capers, carrots, raisins, pine nuts, and other vegetables cooked down in oil and a sweet-and-sour, vinegar-based sauce. 

For a dish that is, admittedly, rather simple, it comes together for something that is greater than the sum of its parts. The balance of oil and that sweet/acidic flavor combination makes it the kind of side you should put in as a regular order when dining out.

Where to try: Honestly, anywhere. Every restaurant seemingly has their own take on caponata, and it is always delicious. 

Sicilian Wine

Benanti Wine

Is wine food? Yes? No? Either way, you need to have plenty of it when in the country.

Sicilian wine is fabulous for many reasons, not only because the island has a wonderful climate with warming winds from Africa, cooling winds from mainland Europe, a ton of sunny days, and, of course, rich volcanic soil that the island's indigenous grapes thrive in. 

While delicious wines can be found all over the island, we found the best collections on store, bar, and restaurant menus to be nearest to the regions the grapes are grown. So when near a major wine region, be on the lookout for the best selection and top producers- especially if you want to buy a bottle for later!

What to try: There are several kinds of wine to try all over Sicily. In the Etna region, look out for wines featuring Nerello Mascalese and Carricante (Benanti and Tenuta Tascante were favorites). In the southeast near the Vittoria region, look out for Frappato and Nero d'Avola (Occhipinti is a stellar producer). In the southwest near Marsala, look out for an assortment of grapes like Grillo, Inziola, and Zibibbo to name a few plus the fortified wine, Marsala, named for the city (De Bartoli is excellent at all styles). The smaller island of Pantelleria nearby is also known for making a dessert Zibibbo made with dried grapes. Don't overlook Ben Rye from Donnafugata if you can try it!

Cannoli

Cannoli

Finally, we come to what is arguably Sicily's most famous dessert- cannoli.

This treat features a fried pastry dough in the shape of a tube (of varying sizes) and stuffed with a sweetened ricotta mixture, primarily made from sheep's milk. While the traditional version of this one is served plain, you can find many variants all over Sicily including where the ends of the dough are dipped in chocolate, pistachio, or other nuts, sometimes flavors added directly to the cream, or, our personal favorite, with candied orange peels topped on the cream at the edge.

A light and refreshing treat available all over the island!

Where to try: Virtually every bakery in Sicily carries cannoli in some form, so you're always going to be near this treat. Two of our favorites were Cannolo e Passito in Trapani and Osteria del Pane Cunzanto in Ragusa. The latter was a treat because their ricotta was made with cow milk over sheep and had a lovely texture!

Do you have a favorite Sicilian food? Where did you try it at? Comment below to share!

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About Jeremy

Jeremy from Living the Dream

About the Author: Jeremy is a full-time travel writer based in Pittsburgh and primary author of this site. He has been to 70+ countries on five continents and seeks out new food, adventure activities, and off-the-beaten-path experiences wherever he travels.

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