Reading that one of Palermo’s favorite dishes is pasta con le sarde, spaghetti with sardines and fennel, didn’t exactly set my stomach on fire with unquenchable desire. But after seeing plate after plate being ordered at Ristorante Amato, near the Teatro Massimo, I figured there must be something to it. So I hopped on the bandwagon and ordered my first ever pasta/sardine/fennel dish. And it won’t be my last.
Delicious. Somehow, the big grass-like clumps of fennel work perfectly with the sardines and thick spaghetti to create one of the best plates of pasta I’ve had in Palermo. And we picked a great place to try it out. Amato is a very nondescript joint near the Teatro Massimo, to which we were tipped off by one of our readers.
On first glance, the restaurant looks like nothing more than a bakery, and we thought “No way”. But there are tables around the corner and, at around 1pm, the place fills up with business people looking for a cheap and filling lunch. There is a ton to choose from, but no menu; just the dishes scrawled almost illegibly on a whiteboard. We sat there for ten minutes with a dictionary and pen, much to the amusement of the waitress.
All our plates were excellent; after the pasta, I had involtini, which are fried steak rolls filled with ham and cheese. Jürgen had ricotta pasta and escalope, but ordering both primera and segunda plates was really unnecessary, and we left with bellies bursting.
Do any of our other Palermitani readers have other suggestions? So far, the restaurants we’ve learned of through tips have been much better than those in guidebooks. Let us know!