I learned about this Society too late. The Society of Ulysses. Le Soste di Ulisse. This is like the Michelin guide of Sicily. Please check this website before coming here and you will already be ahead of the game. I thought the guide to look into for Italy was the Gambero Rosso, translates to the red prawn. This is the informal Michelin guide for the rest of Italy:
But, I did not learn about Le Soste di Ulisse until I took this photo. You’re welcome.
This is the best restaurant in Siracusa. No fancy molecular shit, just amazingly fresh seafood. The oddest thing happened in this restaurant when we were at dinner. There was this woman in the other room who would have these outbursts where she would start yelling like she was going to kill someone, I mean like violently. I would look around to see if anyone noticed or said anything but everyone just acted like nothing was going on. I think they were all regulars and they looked at us and thought “who the fuck are these tourists?” Barely any English spoken here, I guess this goes to show you that Sicily does not get as many US travelers like the rest of Italy. Back to the screaming lady. I think she was a regular who had Tourette’s, from my cursory Psychiatric assessment, and everyone was used to her cussing like this on her regular night out, so they paid her no notice. Since waiters and chef did not speak English, we could not even ask what was going on, so it was a fascinating soundtrack to our dinner.
Amazing vaulted stone ceiling, like an old Abbey.
Amazing Sicilian white wine to start. Super mineral with lots of salinity. 87 points on cellar tracker. Great with seafood.
2013 I Vigneri di Salvo Foti Vigna di Milo
By the way, for 70 Euros per person with wine pairing, this is a fucking steal of a dinner. Here comes olive oil #4 for Erika’s smuggling list. Mt. Etna olive oil, with some amazing balsamic as well.
Before we start with the tasting menu, we have some amuse bouche of some sort. Like a parmesan foam with cured seaweed.
This was my favorite thing in Sicily thus far.
Black rolls of scampi with sea urchin sauce, with some sauteed escarole. Think this is the signature dish here. It was so damn good, like uni sushi rolls stuffed with scampi. Again, this is the real scampi shrimp. The one that looks like a langoustine, which I will show you momentarily.
Sauteed octopus carpaccio on vegetables with rosemary. I was very impressed by the tenderness and liked the simplicity of the rosemary adding to the flavor but not drowning the marine essence of the octopus. Again, what can you do to super fresh seafood that does not distract, they had the right idea.
Scampi and Red Prawns. Local, fresh, and just killed me with their natural umami. I had some quiet time to myself as I zoned out into some brain sucking trance. The prawn guts and brain were so saline and oceanic I was in my own little world. I think this plate was called the Gran Crudo di Crostacci. It also came with smaller shrimps served like a ceviche. For the life of me, I could not remember what the flavor of this ice cream was, but it was perfect for cleansing the palate after I was done. It was either parsley or seaweed, but after a quick google search, I did see another TripAdvisor comment on the parsley ice cream here, so I can safely say that this is what it was. Again, just a little olive oil and crushed pepper and sea salt to highlight this amazing seafood.
OMG, look at that. I just sucked on these shells to get every ounce of umami out of this specimen. I know these just look like any other prawn you have seen, but I knew there was something special and different about the Sicilian Red Prawn. In Italian, it’s called Gambero Rosso, which is the name of the Italian Michelin guide I mentioned above. I can see why they picked this mascot. After some online searching, I discovered that they have specialized boats that fish for this giant red prawn up to 1000 meters deep. Here is a quote from a website I found: “Only marine life of the finest lineage swims in the southwestern region of Sicily. The Sicilian red prawn is one of them and is often found scurrying on the Mediterranean and Atlantic Ocean floor. The surrounding water pressure of its habitat is what results in its indisputable texture and taste.”
I know I am a Japanophile snob that always holds higher regard to Japanese seafood as compared to any other when I think about quality, but these two specimens are what people in Japan probably lust after. This seafood here is probably the only other equivalent to the seafood outside of Japan, Vietnam, etc. Imagine a Japanese sushi chef having access to this seafood here. I am curious if there is even a good caliber sushi restaurant in Sicily, hmmm food for thought. Again, killer scampi with the giant claws, not this fake scampi they serve at Red Lobster or other Italian-American places.
This was the spaghetti carbonara with smoked shrimps. Finally, a decent portion of pasta, none of this one bite molecular gastronomy tasting size. This really hit the spot, and since it was a carbonara, with all the appetizers I was very satisfied and ready for dessert.
Another special wine, 90 points on cellar tracker, it was dark, earthy, lots of tannins, a long finish, with spicy tobacco notes. Actually tasted like a Burg, but just not as elegant, more dirty, the way I like.
2006 I Vigneri di Salvo Foti Etna Vinupetra
We saw a bottle of this in a wine shop on the way home, did not last more than a month after getting back home. If you find this, get it. Paired so nicely with the smokiness of the shrimp and carbonara.
Erika got the coffee pannacotta, which was like an inverse affogato. Simple but amazing. The image does not do the flavor justice. You can easily be fooled the simple appearance of these dishes.
I was on a ricotta kick, I wanted this in every way, shape and form I could get, so when I saw ricotta cheesecake, there was no hesitation.
I think it had a lemon meringue layer on top, with dessicated lemon slices. What a perfect dessert to go with some amazing grappa. Look at how quintessentially Italian, sitting on top of a lace doily.
There is the chef, dressed like a ninja, assassinated my hunger for sure. Mille Grazie Lo Chef Giovanni Guarneri!