Rating: 7 / 10
Italians can do wonders with simple ingredients, but let's call a spade a spade: They can't make a damn salad.
The lust for vegetables was inconsolable after two weeks in Palermo. Yes Italian food is great, but when you're a traveller like me you are used to variety. Unfortunately the highest recommendation in Cefalu was a seafood place, so I swung my tail between my legs and headed down to conquer another clam.
Being ushered in I noticed a distinct underlying rudeness. I was perhaps not dressed as "properly" as the other clients but most definitely got treated like I was a bum. The waiters almost ignored me and swooned over the tables ordering bottles of wine and fish by the kilo. When the waiter finally realised I had been sitting there for over 20 minutes without even a glass of water he plodded over completely uninterested. I ordered my food, including a salad, and grumbled. If he had taken one more minute I probably would have left.
The care and attention that Italians thrust into their dishes can be the simplest unmasking of their treatment of salads. Barely even chopped correctly, thrown in a bowl in huge uninspired chunks and a bottle of balsamic and oil placed beside so you have to make your own dressing.
Ok, we get it: You hate fucking salads.
My pasta had been lavished with a bit more care and tasted the better for it. Though it was fresh and seasoned well, it did veer into the "fishy not fish" territory that I so often avoid. The chef had also not been careful with handling his mussels so the spaghetti was a deathtrap of tiny broken shell pieces that found new battlegrounds in my molars. All things aside, sad salad and all, the meal was a decent one but not worthy of recommending. The service let them down and I am generally the perfect customer: quiet, quick and attentive. I'll chalk this down to the waiter maybe having a bad day, but he didn't seem so grumpy dealing with the gold-card guests.
Crowley would have been pissed.
These recommendations are just personal opinions based on my palate, things change, chefs get fired or replaced, places open-close, relocate, so take it all with a pinch of MSG and discover your own gems too. But please do try a few of these, they have been researched exhaustively.
"Sadness is tempered by umami, grief by the motion of slurping, hope restored in the ladling of glistening, fatty broth"