If you follow The Jam Jar, then you’ll have noticed that I haven’t posted for a while (and if you don’t follow The Jam Jar on here, Twitter or Pinterest, please, please do!). The reason for my brief hiatus from blogging is because I’ve been away enjoying beautiful sunny Taormina!
Taormina is a pretty little hillside town on the east coast of Sicily, which sits in the shadow of the mighty Mount Etna. Although small and traditional, Taormina’s incredible bars, restaurants and views attract Italy’s most chic. Everyone is dressed to impress all nights of the week. If you’re look for a place to dress up and go for dinner, this is definitely the place for you.
You’ll never be short of places to eat in Taormina, but after a couple of visits, I’ve found a few gems slightly off the beaten track that otherwise might be missed. All these restaurants are incredibly reasonable, and (obviously, like all restaurants featured on this blog) serve plenty of dishes that are suitable for vegetarians, some even feature in this year’s Michelin guide. So, if you’re planning a visit to Taormina, or the east coast of Sicily, and you’re not sure where to eat or drink, I hope this short guide helps.
1. Trattoria Tiramisú
A family owned restaurant right at the very end of the main high street in Taormina. Their menu is fairly small, compared to some other restaurants in Taormina, but each dish is cooked to perfection. I recommend Rigatoni alla Norma – large tube shaped pasta with a fresh tomato and aubergine sauce topped with grated baked ricotta – this dish is a favourite in Sicily and this is definitely the best version of it in Taormina. I also recommend a bottle of Sicilian Grillo, a gorgeous white wine grown in vineyards on the hills of Etna (and only €16 a bottle!!!!!), not forgetting their famous tiramisu!
2. Tischi Toschi
A tiny Michelin recommended restaurant off a side street in the middle of Taormina. This place can seat no more than 20 or so people and you’ve got no chance of eating there without a reservation, so make sure you book in advance. Like the restaurant, the menu is small and traditional, with all main dishes priced at €16 and with local wines starting at €25. We shared the baked goats cheese as a started, which arrived in the cellophane wrapping it was baked in, and is the perfect accompaniment for the restaurant’s complementary fresh Italian bread. For mains I played it safe with bocotni (thick tubular noodles with a whole running right the way through) in a simple, but perfect tomato sauce. I recommend a bottle of the Etna Rosso.
3. Pizzeria Villa Zuccaro
If you Google ‘best pizza in Taormina’, Pizzeria Villa Zuccaro is the top result and rightly so. With an incredibly extensive pizza menu including some of the most exotic pizzas I’ve ever seen, this place is a must-visit for anyone seeking great pizza while they’re in Sicily. The restaurant is just off one of the main squares in Taormina, tucked away behind Daiquiri (we’ll get to that later) and is very large, with ample seating both inside and outside of the restaurant. And with pizzas starting from €7, litres of very drinkable house wine at €8.50, and litres of beer at €11, this place can make for a very cheap night out right in the middle of Taormina. I don’t know who Norma is, but I opted for one of her specials again, pizza Norma Messinese – fried aubergine with grated sweet ricotta – possibly the best pizza I’ve ever had.
4. Ristorante Pizzeria Taormina
If you’re looking for dinner with a view, this is the place for you. The restaurant is on the first floor of a building on the main square, and if you book you’re likely to get a table right at the front of their terrace, which overlooks the coastline. At night they open the roof of the terrace so you can drink to your hearts content whilst gazing at the stars (hopefully not because you’ve passed out). The menu here is extensive, with lots of vegetarian options. I opted for the pepperonata followed by a glorious mushroom risotto. The restaurant is also opposite two of my favourite gelato shops in Taormina, perfect for dessert!
Daiquiri is probably one of Taormina’s busiest and most unique bars. And taking up a whole set of steps just off one of the square’s (in front of Villa Zuccaro) you absolutely cannot miss this place. Whilst there is some limited seating on a balcony above the bar, the majority of the seating at Daiquiri is the steps themselves, which are covered with cushions and small tables. Daiquiri has pretty much every cocktail you can think of on the menu, and every type of liquor you can think of (and more) behind the bar. An Aperol spritz costs €9, and whilst you’ll get cheaper spritzes elsewhere, these are exceedingly good. But that’s not all. As is customary in continental Europe, all drinks orders come with a selection of snacks, which usually consist of nuts, crisps and sometimes olives, but at Daiquiri they’ve taken it one step further. Your drinks will arrive with the usual crisps and nuts, and then a few moments later a waiter will bring over a platter of carrot sticks, small sandwiches, bruschetta etc. The free food at this place was the sole reason I ate so late the entire time I was in Sicily (and because we were trying to do as the Italians do, when in Rome and all that!).
Another bar on the stairs, but this one has chairs and tables. Slightly off the beaten track, and hidden down a street towards the teatro antico di Taormina (the ancient theatre), sitting outside of Timoleone is perfect for a slightly quieter drink. Again the cocktail list is extremely extensive, and are at a similar price point to those at Daiquiri, I personally recommend the amaretto sour, which comes in a small mason jar (very hipster). The bar also has an ‘inside’, which is actually still outside but enclosed, occasionally there’s music in this area. The bar also does food, real food, pasta, pizza etc., which I am yet to try (another reason to return to Sicily).