Are you going to Catania, Sicily, soon and want to know more about the local specialities? Perfect! That’s exactly what this Catania Food Guide is for!
In my opinion, Sicilian food is the best food you can find in Italy. Only Napolitan food can actually compete with it but yet, it’s quite different.
Sicily is a truly unique place and experiencing the food, specifically Catanese food, is a must-do.
Sicilian food is very diverse and you won’t find quite the same in Palermo, Agrigento or Catania for example.
Catania is where the sea and the mountains meet. You get a mix of products from the sea, from the mountains and amazing crops due to the volcanic soil of Mount Etna.
This diversity of landscapes added to the melting pot that Sicily is, made Catania an extraordinary food hot spot.
So, are you ready to discover the best Catania foods? Here we go, you will find below all the things you should eat in Catania.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no extra cost for you!
Typical Street Food in Catania
Street food is particularly popular in Catania. You will find many stands in the streets, market and snacks in cafes.
Here are some of the best street food delicacies in Catania!
The arancino is the most famous Sicilian delicacy. This very popular snack is available everywhere in Catania! You will find it in every cafe, restaurant and street food stand.
It consists of a ball of rice filled with a sauce (ragu), coated with bread crumbs and deep-fried. You will recognise them very easily as they have a unique pointy shape. This conical shape was inspired by Mount Etna.
You may already know them as arancini. Don’t worry about this, they are the same. In Italian, masculine names finishing by “o” are singular and the one finishing by “i” are plural. Therefore we say 1 arancino and 2 (or more) arancini.
It was recently officially added to the list of traditional Italian products (prodotti agroalimentari tradizionali italiani (PAT)) by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture.
You will find various versions of them including:
– Arancino al ragu: This one is the most common type of arancino. As a matter of fact, if it only says “arancino”, you can assume it’s the one with ragu. The sauce is made with tomato sauce and meat.
– Arancino al burro: The sauce is made with mozzarella and ham.
– Arancino al salmone: with salmon.
– Arancino con funghi: with mushroom sauce.
– Arancino al pistacchio: This one is my personal favourite as it tastes amazing and is also very typical of the province of Catania. This region of Sicily uses a lot of pistachio to cook. The main reason for that is that Bronte (a village located 25 miles away from the heart of Mount Etna) is known to be home to the world’s best and most famous pistachios! This is the reason why the arancino al pistacchio (with pistachio sauce) is very popular in Catania.
They generally cost between 1.50 and 2.50 euros.
Cipola in Italian means onions so as you might have understood, this one is with onions!
This pastry is also a typical Catania Street food snack. It’s a pastry filled with onions, ham, mozzarella and tomatoes.
They generally cost about 2 euros.
The cartocciata is also a very popular snack in Catania. Similar to the previous one, the Cartocciata is a pastry roll filled with mozzarella, ham and olives or aubergine.
You will find them in most cafes, food markets and street food stands.
Pasta in Catania
Sicily might be a very unique place and quite different from the rest of Italy but it is still Italy. And who says Italy says: Pasta!
Here are a few typical pasta dishes from Catania.
- Pasta alla Norma
- Pasta con le sarde
- Spaghetti alla carrettiera
- Spaghetti con il nero di seppia o con la ricotta salata
RECOMMENDED COOKING CLASS: If you wish to learn how to make these authentic Sicilian pasta dishes, you opt for a cooking class! Check out information and pricing here.
Typical Sicilian Nonna’s recipes
The best thing about the sicilian cuisine is that it’s a cuisine of traditions and made with heart. As you may have noticed already, I absolutely love Sicily and I am crazy about Sicilian food. But the best food I’ve eaten in Catania over the years is the one I found in a restaurant or street food stand.
The best food in Catania is the one made by “la nonna”. Nonna means grandma in italian. As we all know, grandmas always have the best foods. Catania is no exception.
There are a couple of recipes that you won’t always find in restaurants but are typical catanese food!
The parmigiana siciliana is very similar to lasagna except that the sheets are aubergines and the filling is other vegetables.
It only uses seasonal ingredients such as aubergines, tomatoes and basil. It’s easy and cheap to make but yet absolutely delicious!
This dish is particularly popular in summer. It can be eaten warm or cold.
This one is a bit of an awkward one because there is no official recognition for it. But if you go into the Catanese countryside, you will find out that for a lot of locals, this is the ultimate typical food. Particularly popular near Adrano and Biancavilla, the pane siciliano is made with a freshly cooked bread, named Cucciddatu.
A Cucciddatu is a loaf of bread in a circle shape. This typical Sicilian bread is generally made during the day and cooked at about 6pm.
If you want to master the perfect pane siciliano, you need to follow the ritual!
Go to the bakery as soon as they take the bread off the oven (at about 7 pm), go back home, cut it horizontally and add mozzarella, aubergines, tomatoes… whatever you have left in your fridge. Put the other half back on top.
As the bread is still warm, the mozzarella should naturally melt a bit.
You can then cut it in mini sandwiches and share it with everyone.
This is to the province of Catania what the pizza was to Naples. A way to use the leftovers, mix everything and share with everyone.
Ultimately, if you only get to see the result, you will think it’s a very good and giant sandwich.
But if you are with a local and get to enjoy the whole process, it becomes one of the best things you will ever get to do! Such a cultural experience.
RECOMMENDED COOKING CLASS: If you wish to discover authentic Nonna’s recipes in Catania, you can go book this traditional Nonna’s cooking workshop.
Sweets and desserts in Catania
Do you have a sweet tooth? Good because we are getting to the good stuff now! Who doesn’t like deserts!
Here are some of the most popular Catanese sweets and deserts.
The granita is Sicily’s best dessert/afternoon sweet! It’s a semi-frozen dessert made with fruit (most of the time). It’s basically like gelato but without the cream.
It’s a sorbet then, I hear you say. No! It’s not a sorbet. It has a frozen consistency that is very different.
You may have heard of granitas before in a different context. Maybe you are thinking of these spinning things in funfairs? Well, again that’s not quite it! The funfair version is based on the Sicilian granita but unfortunately has been extremely poorly reproduced everywhere else in the world.
The Sicilian granita is amazing. It’s delicious. It’s fresh and so tasty! Give it a try.
The best way to eat it is with a brioche. Give it a go, it will be the best 2 euros you’ve ever spent!
Every cafe in Catania will have granitas. If you don’t see them just ask.
If I could recommend 2 tastes it would be “pistacchio” and “mandorla“. Pistachio and almond.
Sicily produces a lot of pistachios and almonds. They are delicious, so are the sweets made with them.
That said, you can also go for other classics such as strawberry, chocolate, coffee…
Gelato al pistacchio and/or alla mandorla
This time we are talking about proper gelato. As you know, nothing beat the Italians when it comes to gelato. And in Catania, pistachio and almond gelato are simply the best!
Dolci alla mandorla
Almonds are very popular in Sicily and most sweets and cakes are made with almonds. They are called dolci alla mandorla. You will generally find them in cafes and bakeries.
The last but not the least! Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to what is probably the most famous (and delicious) Sicilian sweet: the cannolo Siciliano.
They are sweet crunchy tubes filled with ricotta cheese filling. They are generally topped up with nuts, pistachios or chocolate.
They are delicious and you must taste one during your travels to Catania!
That said, as all good things, they should be consumed with moderation. They can get a bit sickly if you eat too many in a row. Think of a Cadbury creme egg for example it’s delicious but eating a second one is never a good idea.
I highly recommend eating a cannolo with a coffee!
Please note they come in different sizes. It’s better to take 2 small ones than 1 big one.
Food tours and cooking classes in Catania
As you might have understood by now, Catania is a paradise for foodies! If you want to discover more about Sicilian food, you have a few options available. Here are the best culinary experiences in Catania:
Food tour: Going on a food tour is an amazing opportunity to understand what the local products are, how to get them and of course, taste them! If you go on a Catania food tour, you will get to discover the old fish market, try some local delicacies and learn more about the history of Catania. Click here for more information and pricing.
Cooking class: Another way to experience the food in Catania is to make it yourself! Or at least learn how to! Taking a cooking class is perfect if you wish to make a full Sicilian meal and be able to do it again when you are back at home. For more information and pricing, click here.
Traditional Nonna’s Cooking workshop: If you wish to learn how to make traditional dishes with a true Italian nonna, you can book this cooking workshop.
I hope this foodie guide for Catania, Sicily, will be helpful and that you will get to try delicious food during your trip!
Catanese cuisine is one of the best in the world and I am sure that you will love it!
Sicilian Recipe Books
If you want to learn how to make these delicious dishes, you can get one of these cookbooks:
Sicily The Cookbook: Recipes Rooted in Traditions. In this book, Melissa shares her passion for Sicilian cuisine. You will discover many authentic Sicilian recipes but also stories and illustrations.
Sicilian Food: Recipes from Italy’s Abundant Isle. In this one, you will not only get recipes but also discover the history of Sicilian food. Perfect for foodies and culture lovers!
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