Arancini siciliani
Arancini siciliani

Sicilian street food

 The local Sicilian cuisine is among the most appreciated in Italy and besides the traditional "restaurant dishes" there are a lot of "street-food" specialities, sold at the various town markets or coffee shops which can be eaten while standing or walking. Below you find a selection of the most typical Sicilian street-food. Some recipes are originally from the Island, other are typical common dishes all over Italy but meanwhile part of Sicilian customs.

Arancini sicilianiArancini/Arancine: It's the most classic street-food in Sicily and a reason of discord among the locals of the island who dispute about the correct name. It's possible to understand if people come from the eastern or western part of Sicily depending on how they call this delicious food. In Palermo and western Sicily it's called "arancina" while in eastern Sicily it is called "arancino". It is a rice ball, breaded and fried. Arancini have a conical or oval shape and are the traditional filling is with ragù (meat sauce) and and peas. An other beloved variant of arancini is filled with mozzarella cheese and ham and in the last years more and more "rosticcerie" become specialized in this food and offer many different tastes, for example with pistachio or vegetables. It's possible to buy arancini at many bars, rosticcerie or bakeries. Each town has of course its best place, well known by the locals.


Granita e briocheGranita

Icecream is excellent in every region of Italy but granita is strictly Sicilian. Every province and town in Sicily has its own specific recipe and assures that it is the orginal and best granita. Technically seen the granita is crushed ice, flavored with lemon or almond but this description does no justify the unique and refreshing taste of this special sorbet. The granita has origins from the ancient "niviere", underground storages, carved in the rocks, where the winter snow was preserved during the warm season. People took a handful of snow and addes a squeezed lemon. The traditional granita tastes are almond (especially the almond from Avola) and lemon. A typical Sicilian summer breakfast ist granita with brioche, a round or oval sweet bread. In the last years also "brioche con gelato", a brioche sandwich filled with icecream is ever more loved as summer breakfast in the coffee shops. Granites are sold during the summer months in every bar and by peddlers. In many touristic towns granite are meanwhile available all over the year also in other flavours like pistachio, coffee, orange or strawberry but be sure only those who offer seasonal flavours produce them still in the traditional way.

Cannoli sicilianiCannoli

Cannoli are probably the most famous Sicilian pastries, together with the cassata which is not strictly a street-food. Cannoli are composed by a cylindrical wafer, filled with sweet ricotta or chocolate cream. Many bars fill the wafer at the moment. This is the best solution to maintain the wafer crisp. Sometimes the wafer is covered inside with chocolate. The creame is often seasoned with almond pieces, chocolate or candied fruit. Beside the traditional ricotta and chocolate cannoli, other beloved tastes are e.g. with pistachio or vanilla cream. The pistachio of Bronte is excellent. For those who worry about the line, there are also small cannolis, called "cannolicchi".



SalsicciaSalsiccia and horse meat

Salsiccia is the typical Italian sausage and also Sicily has its own recipe. Horse meat is also very appreciated by Sicilians. Salsiccia is considered a traditional but poor food and usually it's not present on the menus of the restaurants. It's possible to taste salsiccia at agriturismi (farmhouse restaurants) in the countryside or it's possible to buy salsiccia sandwiches at the stands which fill the streets of the towns every evening until late night. At this "paninerie", sandwich stands it's also possible to buy more international hamburgers, chips and wuerstel but also Sicilian sandwiches with grilled sausage, spiced with black or chilly pepper and fennel seeds, or horse meat.  The area of the "pescheria" market in Catania is very famous for many good "paninerie" specialized in horse meat.

Sfincione, Scacciata and Cipollina

Beside the round pizza of the pizzerie, in Italy it's possible to buy also take-away pizza variants. Typical in various areas of Sicily are the sfincione, the scacciata and the cipollina. The first one, sfincione, is a recipe from Palermo. The pizza bread is covered with tomatoes sauce, anchovies, onions, origanum and mozzarella cheese. Sfincioni are selled in western Sicily in bars or "rosticcerie" and also peddlers with folcloristic "lapas", it's the name, in Sicilian dialect, for a three wheeled vehicle. The scacciata is also called scaccia or 'mpanata is a type of folded, pizza, baked in an oven. It can be filled with vegetables (e.g. spinach, eggplants), potatoes, sausages or onions. The area of Ragusa, in southeastern Sicily is famous for its excellen scacce. The cipollina (literally "little onion") is a speciality of Catania, available in every bar. It's cooked with puff pastry and filled with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, ham and onions..

Sfincione palermitano          Scacciata detta anche scaccia o 'mpanata         Cipollina catanese


Tradizionale chiosco dove viene servito il seltzSeltz is the name for a cocktail of flavoured sparking water. It's not a Sicilian invention but it's a classical summer drink, served in every town. The old town centres of Catania, Palermo and Syracuse have ancient octagonal kiosks, dating back to the end of the 19th century, which serve these drinks. The most requested is the lemon seltz, with sparkling water, lemon and a lot of salt. Fruit syrups are also beloved like cherry syrup ("amarena") or mint drinks. Another typica sweet drink is almond milk.


Street food in Palermo

Palermo, Sicily's main town, deserves an own chapter itself thanks to the many local street food options. Some of them are available only in Palermo and surroundings but not in other areas of the island.

Pane e panelleBread and panelle

Panelle are a speciality of Palermo, available almost exclusively in western Sicily. They are thin, salted pancakes, cooked with chickpeas' flour. The recipe is very simple but a perfect frying is very important for the best panelle. Usually they are eaten directly from a paper bag or with sesame covered bread. A lot of people like to flavour them with lemon. Panelle are selled mostly near the markets, in small shops or stands.


Cazzilli are also selled by panelle vendors in Palermo. They are also called crocchè. They are a sort of not breaded potato croquettes, cooked only with potatoes, oil, parsley and fried in oil.


Stigghiole is another typical food of Palermo's markets. Stigghiole are suggested for the more adventurous visitors who like to taste the particular gastronomy in each country.  Stigghiole are skewers of lamb gut, grilled and seasoned with parsley, onion and often lemon. The smoke and the smell of this street-food , skillfully spread-out by the stigghiulari, are typical of Palermo's markets.


Pane ca' meusaPane ca' meusa

It's a sandwich with spleen and it is another food speciality of Sicily's main town. The bread is always spiced with sesame and is filled with lamb's spleen and sometimes also with lung pieces. First the lung is boiled and then it's fried in lard at the moment of the purchase. It can be eaten simply or seasoned with pepper, lemon and cheese. This is a very ancient recipe of Sicilian's popular cuisine dating back to times when it was necessary to eat also the poor parts of the animals as simply people could only buy the poor parts of the animals.


Street food tours in Palermo and Catania

If you want to taste the original Sicilian street-food, a walk through the most famous street markets is a must. In Palermo there are the Vucciria, Ballarò and the mercato del capo while in Catania there is la Pescheria. A good choice is to take part at a street-food tour with a local guide who will take you to the best typical stands, telling about the origins of the various recipes and about the life in Sicily. There are various companies who organize street food tours. Streaty is very reliable company who organizes small group tours in the markets of Palermo and Catania. In Catania also Sicilying organizes tours. All tours are bookable online.



Photo credits: Minerva Studio/Fotolia; A.Mendrek/Flickr; S.Leggio/Sicilystockphoto; Mat's eye/Flickr; G.Cannatella/Fotolia; S.Nieuwendijk/Flickr; A.Wiegand/Wikicommons; R.Porrovecchio/Wikicommons. Images under creative commons license