Sicily Travel Tips from Antonio Carini, Sicilian Pizza Chef

Conversations with Locals

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

Oahu Travel Tips from Courtney Chun, Hawaiian Blogger of Fork to Belly

Conversations with Locals

Hawaiian by birth, Courtney Chun blogs about cakes and Japanese recipes on her blog, Fork to Belly. While she calls LA home now, the Hawaiian spirit has never left her. Courtney discusses Hawaiian poke bowls, the snorkelling spot to watch in Oahu, and removing your shoes when going into a friend’s house. 

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Photo: Fork to Belly


What’s Hawaiian culture? 

A mixing pot!

What do you feel defines Hawaiian cuisine?

Local dishes in Hawaii reflect the mixing-pot culture of the island. Hawaii’s most popular dishes are unique combinations of all kinds of food cultures. For example, spam musubi comes from the popularity of canned meats in the islands after World War II and also combines Japanese cuisine to become classic Hawaiian food.

Name one Hawaiian dining etiquette most travellers miss

If you’re going over to someone’s home for a dinner party, you’ll probably notice a bunch of shoes and slippers at the front door. Please remember to remove your shoes, people in Hawaii do not wear shoes in the house!

What is the one local dish you feel travellers can’t leave Oahu without trying?

Poke. Hands down. It’s different on the mainland, where you see trendy shops that let you make your own poke bowl. Poke isn’t like that in Hawaii. It’s much simpler and truthfully, I think it’s way better.

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Shoyu ahi poke bowls. Photo: Fork to Belly

Where are your favourite restaurants or cafés in Oahu?

Imanas Tei, Shirokiya, The Pig and the Lady, Yama’s Fish Market. I could go on and on.

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

Just getting out and exploring, leaving the tourist hub of Waikiki and checking out hikes and beaches. Let the adventure happen!

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Photo: Fork to Belly

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Photo: Fork to Belly

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

My favorite view is actually from my home on Tantalus, one of the mountains close to the city. It’s a beautiful and windy drive to get to the top of the mountain, but the views at the look-outs along the way are wonderful. You can see from the mountain, down into the valley, and all the way out to the ocean.

Name your favourite snorkelling spot 

Though a popular place for tourists, if you’re looking to see lots of fish up close, and ones that aren’t afraid of you, check out Hanauma Bay.

When it comes to food, where in the world is your favourite destination?

Japan! I’ve been eating all kinds of Japanese foods growing up in Hawaii, and Japan is such a mecca for amazing meals. Sushi, bentos, yakiniku, adorable baked goods. They have it all!

 

WHERE TO EAT IN OAHU


Imanas Tei
Where: 2626 S King St, Honolulu, HI 96826, United States
For: Sushi

Shirokiya Japan Village Walk
Where: Ala Moana Center, 1450 Ala Moana Blvd #1360, Honolulu, HI 96814, United States
For: Variety

The Pig and the Lady
Where: 83 N King St, Honolulu, HI 96817, United States
For: Vietnamese food

Yama’s Fish Market
Where: 2332 Young St, Honolulu, HI 96826, United States
For: Hawaiian food and poke
 

WHERE TO GO IN OAHU


Hanauma Bay
Where: Hanauma Bay, Honolulu, HI 96825, USA
For: Snorkelling

The Eating Guide to Milos, Greece

Greece

Life’s a beach in Milos. When the temperatures are up, it’s time to hit the waters on this island paradise, where the beaches are of another world, and enjoying ‘ouzo time’ on a sailboat is the best way to wile your time away. In Summer, the island is packed with sun-kissed travellers lounging on the volcanic coastline, and explorers sneaking into the numerous caves found all around. 

Look forward to: Rooster cooked with wine 

O Hamos 

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Where: Paralia Papikinou-Adamas, Adamas 84801, Greece
What: Lamb baked with dill and cheese
For: Traditional Milos Cuisine

Locals love it for the authentic Greek flavours. Tourists talk about it incessantly amongst one another. Its waiters are fiercely proud of the restaurant they’re serving at, and it’s because O Hamos is famous on Milos island, and they know it. The restaurant’s recipes are boldly shared in little flyers on a rack, but the owners are confident that this wouldn’t prevent a full house during dinner time. Timeless Milos dishes are lovingly handwritten on every piece of menu, of which meats and cheeses are grown and cultivated on the family farm. Opt for the classic O Hamos dishes such as rooster cooked with wine and tomatoes, lamb baked with dill and cheese, and eggplant with pork. 

Palaios

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Where: Plaka 848 00, Greece
What: Ice-cream
For: Greek sweets

The dark wooded interiors of Palaios are far from modern, but is its trays of cakes and honeyed Greek sweets that lures people in for a quick dessert. The large array of ice-cream is great for cooling off in the Mediterranean Summer heat. Go for the traditional Greek desserts like baklava and kataifi for something traditional.

Methismeni Politeia

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Where: Trypiti, Greece
What: Souvlaki
For: Grilled meats

Carnivores rejoice – grilled meats are the thing for this Greek taverna. The family-run Methismeni Politeia is where you’ll get Greek homecooking with a view of Milos bay. In the busy Summers, the wood-fired oven is used to roast meats such as lamb and pork. For the not quite meat lover, other dishes such as grilled octopus, stuffed grape leaves and zucchini balls would still tickle your fancy.