Palermo is delightful without the daily bustle. The city, without its current executioners, becomes benevolent, tranquil, reassuring. Lovely. But not everything contributes to alleviating the heat and humidity.. There are few places to visit in a hot summer evening, above all in the historic center of the city. An amble through the points of attraction for visitors might require rest stops where one could stop and breathe in.
Accordingly, at Palermo at the end of June, in the grip of a suffocating heat wave, I found comfort in a few places which have – despite the temperature – stimulated my attention. At affordable prices.
Gianluca Di Giorgio’s Bocum Mixology, a Wine & Restaurant Bar (Cassari street) situated on the ample curve of the Cala port, is located in the headquarters of the Gagini Social restaurant. The post will soon move to Sikelia on the island of Pantelleria, but in the meantime I am able to sip a cocktail which is utterly pleasurable, above all in an evening like this. “Frangiflutti” is a fresh and savory summer drink which blends London Dry Gin, Ancho hot pepper liqueur, citrus juice, syrup of sugar, seawater, a lemon froth, and powdered seaweed. The preparation is shown in the video below.
A few minutes walk from Gagini along the Cala pier, full of boats, is sufficient to reach Nautoscopio and its beach. This is a technological structure which is easily visible from far away and is cranked up from the earth by means of a pole with a winch. The rotation mechanism, the base it rests on, and its anchorage to the soil are in carbon steel. A box in birch wood is the part which can be occupied, that which lifts up, and the interior space is in oak. The energy is supplied by a wind-driven generator. The park below is furnished with tables and chairs, and the pier is licked by gentle waves. The wines to accompany a tasty fish fry are the whites from Sallier de la Tour and Spafafora.
To dine: what could be better than the recently renovated and restored Piazza Bologni. It is the fulcrum of the city, its historic center, a symbolic spot, the perfect place for a restaurant with an excellent typical cuisine reworked with a certain fantasy. The set for theh sceneconsists of Palazzo Alliata di Villafranca, which once belonged to Luigi Bologna, Baron di Campofranco, by Palazzo Ventimiglia di Belmonte, later the property of Barone Giovanni Riso di Colobria and, in the background, the 16th century Palazzo Ugo delle Favare. The scene is dominated by Scipione Li Volsi’s elegant bronze statue of the Hapsburg Emperor Charles. The emperor appears to signal with his hand …. but let it go. I Cucci is a comfortable bistrot-restaurant, or rather a “bistorante”. The name refers to the color red, Kuque in Albanian. The color is found everywhere: in the décor, in the kitchen with tomatoes and peppers and with … Sarah Bonsangue, the resident-chef of the locale. Two dishes above all, which immediately justify a second visit: the grand plate of fried calamari on a bed of mashed potatoes, a simple but inspired dish which breathes ginger in its aroma, and the fresh twisted pasta with chopped mint, basil, fried capers in an emulsion of Aspra anchovies, cherry tomatoes confit, toasted pine nuts and lemon zest. All watered by a perfect Erse Bianco from the Tenuta di Fessina estate, a light and elegant Etna Bianco.
Those looking for pizza can tranquilly go to find Antonio Pucci, the pizza chef at Tondo (Piazza Ignazio Florio on the corner with via Principe di Granatelli). Passionate and methodical, his pizzas are masterfully made according to the dictates of the Neapolitan school. The leavening and rising are perfect, the border is high, the texture is textbook, the ingredients choice. In short, high quality and full taste. The outside tables in via Granatelli profit from the gusts of wind. Worth noting as well is the five tomato pizza – an off-menu masterpiece – and the fried pizza, another Neapolitan specialty. We tasted the one with vegetables and cottage cheese. The Regno delle due Sicilie pizza is monumental.
(end of the first part, to be continued)
Gagini Restaurant & Bocum Mixology
Via Cassari, 35 (Porto della Cala)
Tel. +39 091 589918
Piazza Bologni, 3/4
Little Sicily – Street Food Gourmet
Porto della Cala, Molo Sud
Piazzale Capitaneria di Porto
Tondo – Pizzeria
Piazza Ignazio Florio (angolo via P.pe di Granatelli)
Tel.: 091 328254
Le pizze di Antonino Puccio
Il cocktail Frangiflutti di Gianluca Di Giorgio