Sicily Travel Tips from Antonio Carini, Sicilian Pizza Chef

Antonio Carini is the chef behind Antica Pizzeria La Punta, the Sicilian restaurant by the Mediterranean Sea. Take a peek into his everyday life in Sicily on his Instagram account, which is a series of beach escapades, dough kneading and street explorations. We talk to Antonio about Italian pizzas, Sicily’s top beaches, and a secret bakery where the best desserts come from. 

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Photo: Antonio Carini

What’s Sicilian culture? 

The Sicilian culture is full of colour, historical art, traditions and customs. This is a result of the many previous civilisations that have ruled in the past. When you think of Sicily, good food, our unique dialect and simple, down-to-earth values come to mind right away. We have a big sense of belonging to this land, and place great importance to family, which is reflected in how we present ourselves to guests.

What do you feel defines Sicilian cuisine?

The Sicilian cuisine is undoubtedly the most complete of all the Mediterranean. Thanks to an ideal climate, our land offers a lot of excellent ingredients that offer inimitable flavours in the kitchen. Starting from typical street food, to delicious seafood that are combined with herbs from the countryside, to sweet ricotta accompanied by typical liqueur wines. The Sicilian cuisine is the taste of happiness! 

What are some local dishes you feel travellers can’t leave Sicily without trying? 

Everything is worth trying! My advice is to venture into the streets and try the pane con le panelle, pani ca meusa, arancini, sfincione, and finally a cannolo at any bar. 

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Pane cunzato. Photo: Antonio Carini

Where do you love to eat in Sicily?

It is often said that you don’t eat in a better place that at home. But in Sicily, you can feel at home even in restaurants, bars and taverns. Everything is prepared as if it were home cooked. My favourite place to eat is my pizzeria, Antica Pizzeria La Punta. I cook what I want at the moment. What else? When I eat out in Palermo, I choose Osteria Ballarò, FlaM, or FUD Bottega Sicula. For a good cappuccino at breakfast, Angelina’s Bakery is a good choice. 

What makes a good Italian pizza? 

The secret of a good pizza is choosing quality ingredients such as mozzarella, a perfect proofing technique, and lastly, cooking it in an oven typical of the oldest Italian pizzerias. A good Italian pizza must have strong aromatic flavours, a high cornice and is fluffy. In my pizzas, there is always fresh oregano and basil. Use your imagination to combine the ingredients – do not stop at the simple margherita. Try it with seafood, for example, and enjoy.

Name one best kept secret of Sicily

There is a nice little place hidden in Palermo’s historical center. It is called Cioccolateria Lorenzo. It is a café, but something more like a bakery. It is the perfect place to enjoy your coffee in peace, and to enjoy homemade sweets and cakes. In summer, it is possible to sit outdoors amidst potted plants and vintage trinkets. The watermelon granita is an absolute must try. 

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Cioccolateria Lorenzo. Photo: Antonio Carini

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Photo: Antonio Carini

What would you recommend travellers do to experience Sicily as a local? 

Understand Sicilians living habits – frequent the same places, walk in the city center everyday, choose a pub where they prepare the best appetiser at 7 pm. Hang out late at night with a group of friends. The tourists must live as if Sicily is their own home. Lastly, they must eat all day everyday! 

Name your favourite beaches in Sicily

My favourite beach is where I learned to swim, and there are some rocks from which I still love to dive from. It is right next to my workplace, so I frequent it everyday. It is called Santa Nicolicchia, Porticello in Palermo. Another favourite beach is I Francesi in Mongerbino. The Mondello beach of Palermo can’t be missed as well. There is also the San Vito Lo Capo, known as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. 

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Photo: Antonio Carini

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Photo: Antonio Carini

Where can we go to see your favourite view in Italy?

My favorite view of Italy is from the majestic dome of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, in Rome. From up there, you can see all of Rome but it seems like you can see the ends of the earth.

 

WHERE TO EAT IN SICILY


Antica Pizzeria La Punta
Where: Vicolo San Nicolicchio, 21, 90017 Porticello, Santa Flavia PA, Italy
For: Pizzas

FlaM Osteria Contemporanea
Where: Via della Vetriera, 1, 90133 Palermo, Italy
For: Modern Sicilian cuisine

FUD Bottega Sicula
Where: Piazza Olivella, 4, 90133 Palermo, Italy
For: Italian burgers

Angelina’s Bakery
Where:  Via Valerio Villareale, 24, 90141 Palermo PA, Italy
For: Cappuccinos

Cioccolateria Lorenzo
Where: Via IV Aprile, 7, 90133 Palermo, Italy
For: Watermelon granita 

 

WHERE TO GO IN SICILY


Santa Nicolicchia
Where: Largo Santa Nicolicchia, 90017 Santa Flavia PA, Italy
For: Beaches

I Francesi
Where: Comunale Mongerbino, Bagheria PA, Italy
For: Beaches

Mondello
Where: Viale Regina Elena, Mondello, Palermo, Sicily, Italy
For: Beaches

San Vito Lo Capo
Where: San Vito Lo Capo, 91010 Province of Trapani, Italy
For: Beaches
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