Enjoy a meal at Bar Eolo and experience our love letter to the region of Sicily.
In a warm and relaxed setting, Bar Eolo serves Sicilian-inspired contemporary fare and offers an award-winning selection of Sicilian wines. Our menus change seasonally and feature typical Sicilian delicacies as well as organic ingredients from local farms.
What is unique about Sicilian cuisine?
Separated from mainland Italy by the Strait of Messina, Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean. Because of its strategic position between North Africa and Europe, it has long attracted visitors, from invaders and traders to tourists. Sicilian cuisine is a reflection of the island’s history, a product of being a cultural crossroads for the Greeks, Phoenicians, Arabs, Romans, Jews, Normans, Bourbons and others.
Over time, the island embraced several food traditions brought to its shores, melding techniques, recipes and ingredients from other ethnic groups into its own distinctive style. Throughout Sicily, you will find involtini, rolled meat and seafood dishes, as well as dishes flavored with agrodolce, a tangy combination of vinegar and sugar that is usually more sour than sweet. Seafood is found in all forms along the coast, from salt-preserved anchovies and sardines used in pasta dishes and antipasti to olive oil-preserved tuna and bottarga, fermented tuna roe. Swordfish, octopus, squid, shrimp, mullet, branzino, sea urchin, clams, and mussels all reach the Sicilian table with frequency. Cooks here also deftly use cultivated and wild herbs as well as nuts—pine nuts, almonds, pistachios, and hazelnuts—in savory and sweet dishes alike. Olive trees, cultivated in abundance, ensure that olive oil is the cooking fat of choice.
Sicilian cooking is also defined by what it is missing. Butter and cream, often found in Northern Italian cuisines, are rarely used in Sicily. Yet cheese is found in many dishes, and even added to seafood dishes, a habit considered taboo in other parts of Italy. Cheese making has existed in Sicily since the time of the Greeks and is still prevalent today. Ricotta, a by-product of cheese, is prevalent in both sweet and savory dishes. There is an array of nut and ricotta-based sweet recipes that were passed down for centuries through the once-numerous convents, and many were carefully guarded secrets for years.
Yet within these general guidelines, countless culinary variables exist, giving rise to well-intentioned squabbles. At Bar Eolo last spring, a Sicilian-American customer said my version of pasta with sardines was not authentic because I used a different type of pasta than he was used to. To make matters worse, I used tomato. He said his Palermitan grandmother never made it with tomato sauce. Yet I had prepared the sauce exactly how my Sicilian cousin Maria had taught me. This is only one example of how Sicilian cuisine is never static. Classic Sicilian dishes undergo countless iterations throughout the island. Meanwhile, every village seems to have dishes that aren’t found anywhere else. What unifies the cuisines is the island itself: its climate, its traditions, and its indigenous ingredients.