Fasten your seatbelts and come along with old Don Tano to see and taste these three pizzas that any local would recommend when you go into one of our Sicilian pizzerias.
Buonasera ragazzi! Old Don Tano is back again and as always I’m here to trust you with more secrets of my beloved island of Sicily. You can secretly pass these secrets on to your friends however.
Allora, since you found this page you’ve just proven to me that you’re a smart traveler. And smart travelers like to prepare themselves with a little information before they head out to their destination.
Naturally, you’re going to want to know where you can find the best pizza in Palermo, giusto? (right?) Of course you are.
Bravo. That proves you’re a smart cookie and you’re not only smart but lucky to boot. “Why?” you may ask, “am I lucky?” Okay, Don Tano is here for you and I’m gonna tell you why..
By the way, please don’t mention any of this to Nico (he’s just the guy who founded this platform.)
Nico gets to feeling a little dejected because he started this and now I’m getting all the attention and he thinks I think I’m a regular rock star — well, I’ve always been popular with the ladies until I got married — and I do enjoy their attention but hey, that doesn’t make me feel too important.
Beh, forse un po’. (well, maybe just a little bit)
Ecco, let’s get on to the business of pizza that I started to tell you about.
1. The Omnipresent Parmigiana
Bene, if we were to sit down together in a pizzeria and you happened to ask my advice on what to order, this is my opinion on just what to try.
Allora here’s one that’s a mouth-watering blend of tomato sauce, parmesan cheese and mozzarella fior di latte and eggplant.
Eggplant has long been one of Sicily’s more delicious vegetable, fruit, berry — ?. I’m confused and so is everyone else. People can’t make up their minds about what to call an eggplant.
But there’s one thing everyone can call it with confidence, namely: delicious.
Today, eggplant is one of the most common and most popular ingredients on our traditional Sicilian menus.
If you check out Nico’s travel guide you can find a listing of all the best local eateries and the best food. He won’t steer you wrong and he never charges anyone for plugs.
I’ve known him since he was a little ragazzo trying to sneak a ride his big brother’s Vespa, (I managed to stop him before he broke his neck!). That’s how I know he tells it like it is.
I can promise you that.
By the way, here’s a little bonus tip
When you order a parmigiana, your waiter may ask you whether you want the fried or the baked melanzana (that what we call eggplant around here). Okay, the baked may be lighter but trust me. Old Don Tano can tell you from long experience, fried will transport you into another world!
2. The Faccia di Vecchia
Translated as The Old Lady’s Face, Faccia di Vecchia doesn’t sound so good maybe, ma aspetta! (wait).
Don’t let the unattractive name freak you out. It has nothing at all to do with the flavor of this little gem.
This one is a blend of scamorza (an Italian cheese), onions, tomato sauce and breadcrumbs.
I have to recommend this because it’s a genuine Palermo original and, truth be known, it’s the same as our Sfincione.
Another bonus tip
Torretta is a small town very close to Palermo. Torretta is famous for the the very best Faccia di Vecchia in all of Sicily. If you have a car, head out to Torretta. You won’t have a problem finding a restaurant for this pizza. Just look for the restaurant called, Faccia di Vecchia. Can’t miss.
3. A revised version of Margherita: the Bufalina
The is the last one that I highly recommend.
That’s the Bufalina. This is a local version of the globally-recognized margherita pizza.
Similar to the original, the bufalina however has tomato sauce and fresh basil, but steps away from the margherita by the inclusion of mozzarella di bufala i.e. buffalo mozzarella.
This is cheese made with buffalo milk .
Sam Anderson in the New York Times called mozzarella di bufala “The apotheosis of diary: the golden mean between yogurt, custard, cottage cheese. heavy cream, and ricotta”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
You can find this in many locations across all of Sicily. This combination accurately describes the taste palate of all of Italy.
Three pizzas you SHOULD NEVER order
Here in Sicily, we take our food seriously. We certainly don’t play around with our pizza.
My grandma Giulia-Angelina — may she rest in peace — used to tell me that every time a tourist comes here and orders weird pizza, a Sicilian dies.
Now in other countries, the following pizzas may be considered somewhat traditional, but — thanks to the god of pizza — here, these unfortunate flops are next to impossible to find.
Here are three pizzas you SHOULD NEVER order:
This one has been named for traditional pasta topped with bacon, pecorino, mozzarella, and eggs. Don’t misunderstand. We love carbonara, but nobody would order a pizza with these toppings.
This one derives its name from the Italian city. A pizza with mozzarella and beef sauce topping. The name may look familiar but this is unpopular in Italy and especially here in Sicily.
In Sicily as well as in most of Italy, Alfredo pasta doesn’t even exist. I’ve seen it during my youthful travel days and Alfredo pasta came topped with a mixture of butter, cream, parmesan and chicken. This is not something that’s going to get most Italians up and running. Well, running away maybe. Very unpopular in Palermo.
Wherever you go, and especially here in Sicily, the way to order pizza is to remember that a good pizza is a simple pizza. And that’s why the margherita is famous the world over.
The margherita can almost be a symbol for Italy.
The margherita has mozzarella (white) basil leaf (green) and tomato (red). The colors of our flag!
Your takeaway here, caro turista, is that you can’t always be too happy when trying to order anything, pizza included.
Nico’s guide brings you a list of some of the best pizzerias in Palermo. Check it out, and you can trust his advice.
That’s all for this article. Wherever you are, it’s time to go have some pizza. Just keep it simple, no cream, pineapple, no nothing. As with many things in this world, when it comes to pizza, less is more. That’s it.
Don Tano Bongiorno