Essential to the point of near-stereotype, it is impossible to think of Sicilian food without considering the distinct flavor, pungent aroma, and overall versatility of fresh Basil. Clearly and concisely heralding the beginning of summer, the Bay Area produces a bounty of brilliant basil this time of year.
Vegetables that grow together tend to taste good together, this is the crux of seasonal cooking. Consider the classic and eternal "alla Norma" combination of fresh local basil, eggplant, and tomato, working in concert with each other to create a uniquely Sicilian dish. You'll see this set pop up all over the menu, most famously with pasta, but we also do scaccia alla norma among others, we like it that much. Believed to be named after Bellini's opera, "Norma's" simplicity requires all of its ingredients to be at their very peak. That means waiting until summer is in full swing. The wait, however, is inevitably worth it, for this is one of our all-time favorites.
North of Mt. Etna, the small Sicilian town of Bronte is the home to another basil-based favorite of ours, Pesto Alla Brontese. Similar to its Genovese sibling, mortared basil is combined with garlic and pecorino cheese, but Pistachios take the place of almonds and the dish is lightened with the addition of chopped fresh tomatoes. The result is a dish familiar yet different, both packed with bold flavor and texture yet bright and delicate.
We have only a fleeting season in which to enjoy basil at it's peak, and we absolutely plan to make the most of it. These preparations represent two of the most classic Sicilian recipes featuring basil, but the full accounting of dishes is nearly endless. Come in and explore it with us.