Palermo, the capital of Sicily, is renowned for its rich history, varied cuisine and distinct Arab-Norman architecture, with multiple churches and buildings classified as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Thanks to its stunning palaces, beautiful squares, treasured museums and historic buildings, the city was named Italy’s Capital of Culture for 2018 by the country’s ministry for cultural heritage.
As tourism has increased, so too has Palermo’s wining and dining scene, which boasts more options than ever. Restaurants and enoteche, or wine bars, concentrate on local ingredients and crafted lists that showcase Sicily’s vibrant, savory wines, many made with the island’s native grapes.
Bye Bye Blues
On the outskirts of Palermo, in Mondello, famous for its beautiful beach, this Michelin-starred restaurant is run by Chef Patrizia Di Benedetto and her sommelier husband, Antonio Barraco. Di Benedetto specializes in innovative takes on classic Mediterranean dishes, like paccheri (tube-shaped pasta) with codfish sauce, roasted peppers, black sesame and toasted almonds. The extensive wine list spotlights the finest selections from Sicily and Italy, as well as iconic wine regions of the world, including a tempting Champagne collection.
Osteria Mangia e Bevi
With delicious, authentic dishes and a cracking wine list that offers the best of Sicily alongside some lesser-known jewels, this is where the locals go. The atmosphere is fun and casual, complete with a suspended, indoor wrought-iron balcony. You’ll be treated to classic meals as nonna would prepare them, like spaghetti with squid ink or bucatini topped with sardines and herbs. It offers great vegetarian options, too, outlined in specific menu sections for starters and mains.
Located near the Vucciria, a once-flourishing market area, this restaurant and wine bar serves up a variety of traditional dishes. Ancient columns and exposed brick create an ideal setting to explore the depth of Sicilian cuisine, with typical “street food” like panelle fritters, red shrimp and Nicosia buffalo mozzarella offered in the enoteca room and more formal fare in the main restaurant space. The wine list features many of the top offerings from Sicily’s booming wine scene.
This new, stylish venue is a combination café, wine bar and restaurant located in Palazzo Butera, an 18th-century waterfront palace owned by Francesca and Massimo Valsecchi. The brainchild of the Tasca d’Almerita Sicilian winemaking family, it embraces the Valsecchis’ vision to convert the palace into a cultural focal point and highlights Sicily’s culture through cuisine, wine and events. Savory dishes are made with seasonal ingredients, while terroir-driven wines highlight distinct growing areas and grapes that include those from Tasca’s five individual estates.
Osteria dei Vespri
Owned by brothers Andrea and Alberto Rizzo, this intimate restaurant is located in the historic center of Palermo and offers a tasting menu of revamped traditional Sicilian dishes often enhanced with specialties from around the world. Though offerings change with the seasons, seafood specialties like red tuna with Nebrodi hazelnut crust, mustard, yogurt, chives and wild chicory are highly recommended. The wine list is updated frequently, with the cellar housing some 650 labels centered on Sicily’s distinctive wines as well as solid showings from Italy’s top denominations.
Set in the heart of Palermo, this is a fantastic and lively place to sip local wine and enjoy a savory meal or grab a late-night bite. The extensive wine list, which focuses on smaller producers, represents an outstanding selection from across the island and beyond, and matches well with mouthwatering dishes that are largely centered on locally sourced fish. The friendly, knowledgeable staff can suggest the best pairings to create a memorable experience. In good weather, you can sit outside in the piazza and eat alfresco.
This hip wine bar is a favorite with local producers and wine lovers, delivering savory dishes in a fun, informal ambience. Owned by Claudio Conte, you’ll find nearly 3,000 wines displayed largely on shelves that line the walls. While Sicilian wines get the most space, there’s a section dedicated to unique international labels. The eclectic menu offers everything from local seafood and pasta to cured meats and fish and chips.
Founded in 1946 and featuring more than 7,000 labels mainly from Sicily and Italy, this is considered the top wine shop in Palermo for locals and visitors alike. It’s also a wine bar, where you can choose from several themed tasting packages as well as a selection of cold, savory dishes like Sicilian cheeses, cold cuts, sardines and vegetables. Be sure to check out its ample selection of organic and biodynamic wines.
Enoteca Vino Veritas
Vino Veritas is a reference point in Palermo for those who seek good wine and honest food made from the region’s exceptional raw material, including fresh seafood and produce. Owned by wine connoisseur Giuseppe Lisciandrello, it offers an incredible array of Sicilian, Italian and international wines alongside cured meats, focaccia, stuffed rice balls, classic seafood and pasta. It’s a great spot for a late-night sip and supper.
Premiata Enoteca Butticè
This is an upbeat wine bar where you’ll likely run into locals. Its sommelier, Salvatore Fanale, updates the vast wine list constantly and highlights a wide array of Sicilian wines, from underexposed gems to well-known names, as well as global bottlings. The venue also curates an impressive selection of artisan beers. Dining options are wholesome and simple, and range from snacks to first and second courses, all made with ingredients bought daily at local markets.