If you’re looking for a foodie experience, look no further than these Palermo restaurants! This vibrant city is home to some of the best restaurants in all of Sicily. From traditional Italian cuisine to international fare, there’s something for everyone in Palermo. Here are five amazing restaurants that you don’t want to miss!
What is the ultimate foodie experience? For everyone, that answer might be different. At Food Wine Tourism, we believe food speaks volumes about the culture and geography from which it originates.
You can cook food to give you the taste of a place, or you can go there and experience it fully – from the ingredients grown in that land and that climate all the way to the characters crafting and serving your meal. The ultimate foodie experience offers the privilege of understanding a place through food and wine. We travel for this, learning about the world bite by bite and sip by sip.
If you already know what to expect in Palermo and only want the list, jump straight to 5 Palermo restaurants to add to your itinerary.
Palermo is a bustling city in the Northwest of Sicily and known for its delicious food scene and vibrant culture. Food is central in Palermo with a vibrant street food scene as well as Michelin-starred restaurants. The Palermitani have a strong sense of pride in their cuisine, and it shows in the diverse selection of Palermo restaurants found throughout the city.
Palermo’s food scene has been shaped over the years by exposure to many cultures – Arab, Greek, Roman, French – the list goes on. For about two centuries, Sicily was under Arab rule. It is possible that they even introduced almonds and citrus to Sicily, among other new agricultural products and dishes.
We found the bar high in cuisine almost everywhere we went in Sicily. This isn’t true for many travel destinations. Sicilian noble families brought French cuisine to the island for a time, and things took off from there. There seems to be a true respect and care being given to food craft, so no foodie should miss a trip here.
On just about every corner of Palermo, you can find a hole-in-the-wall pizzeria serving up authentic wood-fired pies or a small family-run trattoria dishing out hearty dishes like pasta alla norma or sarde a beccafico. The best pasta dish in Palermo will probably have seafood on it.
Whatever your taste, Palermo restaurants offer a little bit of everything for every type of foodie. So come hungry and ready to eat your way through this delicious destination.
If your mouth is watering like ours, grab a glass of water, because we haven’t even started. The first on our list is a star…
Michelin Star Restaurants in Palermo
Out of all the amazing Palermo Italy restaurants, there is only 1 Michelin star, and that belongs to Gagini. Situated in the Vucciria district in central Palermo, Gagini restaurant is set within 16th-century walls that once surrounded the workshop of Antonello Gagini, Sicily’s most renowned Renaissance sculptor. The restaurant offers a unique experience blending food and art while paying homage to Sicilian history.
The focus and passion at Gagini is on the ingredients used to prepare the dishes. Through relationships with local producers, a sense of place is celebrated in the food at wine at this restaurant.
Italian-Brazilian chef Maurizio Zillo has developed his own special experience after years of working at esteemed restaurants around Europe. Dishes on the menu may include free range chicken with Modica chocolate, sesame and verjus or plate with lacto-fermented melon alongside crab and lobster. For a true foodie experience, try one of the three offered tasting menus in 5, 6, or 8 courses.
Palermo, Italy Restaurants for Foodies
Located in the high-tech setting Palazzo Castrone, MEC is all about respect for the ingredients used to prepare the dishes. While the restaurant and presentation is modern, the chef, Carmelo Trentacosti, carefully prepares the food artfully with perfect simplicity.
The two offered tasting menus are a real treat. In contrast to many restaurants in Palermo offering their versions of Sicilian classics, foodies will love the new flavors being presented at MEC Restaurant.
Ristorante Palazzo Branciforte
This upscale restaurant is modern but maintains some notable ties to tradition. Ristorante Palazzo Branciforte sits in an historic palace in the center of Palermo. The atmosphere of the restaurant is relaxed due to the beautiful courtyard spot being separated from the chaos city center.
True foodies will love the experience of the tasting menu, but a la carte is also an option at Branciforte. Try the “Capricciosa vista mare” for a modern taste of Sicilian flavors.
If you love natural wine, Cicala is a must-visit restaurant and wine bar in Palermo. Located near Cala Port, Cicala’s menu offers a lot of Sicilian small plates along with absolutely delicious seafood pastas made with fresh ingredients.
The wine is as much a draw here as the good food, so come ready to enjoy a great night learning about Sicilian wine and tasting the best Sicily offers food and wine.
In Piazza Borsa, you’ll hopefully stumble upon Sobremesa Ristorantino. Sobremesa is popular among foodie travelers, and the octopus is a favorite dish. There is a lot of great food on the menu, but you must try the “tortino di sarde a beccafico.” This is one of our favorite Sicilian treats, and Sobremesa offers a fresh take on the dish.
With so many restaurants in Palermo, it can be hard to choose, but this Palermo restaurant offers a night well-spent.
Typical Sicilian Dishes and Street Food in Palermo
When you’re out to eat in Palermo, here are a few local specialties you might see at more than a few tables. Some use traditional recipes, and some like to put their personal spin on them, and most of them can be found in the form of street food.
While this article focuses more on the tasting experiences in Palermo restaurants, one of the best ways to understand Sicily is by trying the street food. They’re often very good prices too, so any of these would be great for lunch or an afternoon snack. Here are some of our favorites:
Arancini – Fried risotto balls, sometimes with saffron, sometimes with ground meat and tomato sauce. These are everywhere and you should try them ALL!
Pasta alla Norma – Pasta with tomatoes, eggplant, and ricotta
Sarde a Beccafico – Sardines baked with breadcrumbs, pine nuts, and raisins
Sicilian Pizza al Taglio – Rectangular pizzas sold by the slice
Crispelle – A type of fried dough popular at street festivals
Gelato Palermitano – Gelato made with almond milk
Granita – a semi-frozen dessert treat made flavored with almond milk, citrus or fruit
Seafood Spaghetti – Simple pasta dish where the sauce is made from butter or oil and the juice from the fish, clams, or shrimp on the pasta; a must try in Sicily
Focaccia – a fluffy but crispy flatbread baked with olive oil and topped with anything and everything; try the anchovy version when in Sicily
Palermo’s Amazing Pizza
Some of the best pizza in Sicily can be found in Palermo since it’s such a foodie town. The most popular thing in Sicily is to go to the many pizza shops selling slices and get a mix to try. For this, Pizza Go! is popular. If you’re in the mood for pizza at a restaurant, try Rosso Pizza.
Some of the best wine in Sicily usually comes from Etna, Vittoria, or Noto. However, since Palermo is such a foodie destination, you will have no trouble finding great wine to pair with your food. One of the restaurants listed above has a great wine list. We recommend starting at Cicala and asking for more recommendations at dinner. Local recommendations are the best way to travel.
If you’re interested in learning more about the best wine in Sicily see our guide on Sicilian wine. Study up before your trip to Palermo so you’ll be able to navigate the wine lists a little more informed!
Tips for Planning a Trip to Palermo
Palermo has become a very popular tourist destination over the years. It’s an island in the Mediterranean with amazing food and culture, plus – beaches!
There is so much to see in Sicily that first time visitors think one trip is enough. It most definitely is not. You can drive across the island in 4 or 5 hours, but every corner has unique and beautiful experiences to soak in. Here are a few things to consider when planning a trip to Palermo and Sicily.
- Depending on how much time you have for vacation, you should devote at least 2-3 days to Palermo. That can be on the first part of your trip or the tail end, before you head out.
- Italians eat very late. Go ahead and have that arancini in the afternoon or you’ll be hungry by the time you eat dinner.
- Meals are enjoyed at a slow, relaxed pace. This is true for Sicily, Italy and most of Europe. If this pace is unfamiliar – don’t react with annoyance. Instead, take a moment to slowly snack, enjoy your wine, enjoy your friends or family. Look around and observe the locals. Try it the Sicilian way. You’ll end up loving it.
- Book restaurant reservations in advance if a specific place is important to you. Either use a booking engine or email the restaurant directly. Palermo can be busy, especially in the summer, and you don’t want to miss out on a table or your potential best meal.
- Don’t plan every minute of your trip. Leave space to explore the city on food, people watch, go to farmer’s markets, eat street food, and just be. It’s vacation after all.
How to Get to Palermo
If you’re planning a trip to Palermo, Sicily, the good news is that there are several options for getting there. By air, you can fly into Falcone-Borsellino Airport, located just 20 kilometers outside of the city. This will be the easiest and fastest.
You can also take a ferry to Palermo’s port from various cities in Italy and other countries, such as Genoa and Tunis. These are very long ferry rides. Finally, there are train and bus routes that connect Palermo with other major cities in Italy, including Rome and Naples.
The train is fun because a part of it breaks off and rides a ferry across. Note: you can take a train to Sicily, but once you’re there, the routes aren’t very extensive. You’ll likely rent a car if you want to leave the city.
However you choose to arrive, you’ll soon be immersed in everything Palermo has to offer, stuffing your face, taking food pics, and never wanting to leave.
So, what are you waiting for? Book your ticket to Palermo and get ready for the ultimate foodie experience! You won’t be disappointed. Now, the hard part will be fitting it all in your trip.