House cocktail at the Belmond Hotel Caruso…
House cocktail at the Belmond Hotel Caruso…
The Negroni gets a twist at the Villa San Michele outside of Florence…
You can’t go wrong when eating in Sicily. Dishes are rich in flavour and the fish and seafood comes fresh form the sea. And if you like sweets, well then Sicily may become your favourite place on earth with its vast array of treats that excite the eye as much as the palette.. Who doesn’t like a cannoli?
Taormina has some choice restaurants serving up some of the best the island has to offer. Here’s a tasting:
Ristorante Vicolo Stretto -On a slip of a street and up some steps is the cozy local favourite serving traditional flavours and dishes with just a hint of a modern twist. Like the Sicily-on-a-Plate perfect Paccheri pasta with swordfish which takes the traditional swordfish with tomatoes and combines it to coat the wide flat pasta tubes with just a sprinkling of almonds. Quite simply superb. This was followed by a regional flaky light fish encrusted with slivered potatoes a top a bed of spinach and then finished off with chocolate semi freddo and a homemade almond liqueur. I would happily go back and do it all again it was that good!
Paccheri with swordfish
Ristorante Maffei’s -Serving traditional fare, Maffei’s ticks all the boxes. Both indoor and outdoor seating, the later being in a enchanting garden terrace, the service is friendly and has a menu with popular dishes. The marinated anchovies are especially good. A good all-rounder that makes for a very pleasant meal.
Garden terrace at Maffei’s
Villa Sant’Andrea – For a luxurious meal by the sea, head down to Taormina Mare and the Villa Sant’Andrea. Start with cocktails at their outdoor beach lounge before making your way to a very stylish meal in a relaxed setting by the water. On a clear day you can see mainland Italy in the distance. Wonderful fish and seafood dishes with sophisticated presentation, whatever you choose will not disappoint, but save room for dessert and the platter of Sicilian Desserts 5 Ways. Just wow!
Red&White – Part wine bar part restaurant, is a laid back little place that serves good wine and homemade food. The owner is passionate about his wine selections so this is definitely a place for wine lovers, especially if you want to try smaller and not so well known vineyards. Food is simple but delicious.
Grand Hotel Timeo – With the best views of Mount Etna, the restaurant already has a lot going for it. Add some of the best food in town and an outstanding wine selection and you know you are in for an outstanding meal. Very regal and formal, and yes, expensive too, it is however worth every euro and will not disappoint. The menu serves a classic Sicilian selection, including the most amazing Pasta a Saor, a traditional dish made with sardines, sultanas and pine nuts. Savory with just a tang of sweetness it is sea and earth combined. Obviously there is only one way to end such a perfect meal and that is with some mini cannoli and some grappa on the outdoor terrace.
Cannoli at the Grand Hotel Timeo
And a little Bonus…
For a real Sicilian breakfast, head to Bam Bar for the best Granita in the world! Choose from fruit flavours or have a traditional coffee. Sicilians have their granita for breakfast with a brioche pastry.
Taormina’s timeless elegant hotel is a relaxed luxury stay at it’s best
After a stressful and delayed flight I arrived that evening at the Grand Hotel Timeo in Sicily’s charming town of Taormina. The car pulled up to the small front gate and down the garden path I walked to a wood framed glass door and went in. It was like going through the looking glass into a past, more elegant era. I felt as if I was part of the Grand Tour. But then unexpectedly there was hustle and bustle at check in, a few of other people’s flights were also delayed and five of us were all arriving at once, a birthday party going on in the private sitting room and suddenly the air felt less still. It was just one of those rare Sunday nights where much was going on when normally I would have walked straight to the check in desk. The bellman felt genuinely awful that I couldn’t just check in immediately as there were more people than expected in the lobby at that moment, at the same time someone from behind the long dark wood front desk whisked around to welcome me personally and apologise for the fact I would have to wait at all to check in. I was politely offered a seat in the small and stylish lobby or would I prefer to sit at the bar for a brief moment so I didn’t have to stand in a queue or be put out in any way. I opted for the bar where I received a complimentary cocktail of my choice. My choice was the house special Etna Spritz… ahh… After the difficult flight this extra delay didn’t feel like a problem at all, I felt already settled in and comfortable. Such is the impeccable and delightful service and staff at the Grand Hotel Timeo.
With only the smallest of delays, and having finished my drink at the bar, I was shown to my stylish and very comfortable room. Decorated in period pieces but with modern touches and warm white tones, it felt comfortable from the moment I walked in. Being evening the bed was already turned down and some complimentary biscotti put out on the table, welcoming me. And halleluiah! there was an actual electrical outlet next to the bed right over the bedside table. Meaning I could charge my phone overnight and still keep it next to the bed to use the alarm. It is such a rare feature to find, even in top hotels. Nice detail and very useful. The bathroom was decked out in luxurious Bulgari and Penhaligon’s bath products with a deep tub, plush towels and a little window to let in the fresh air definitely gave it all a very classic feel. Indeed everything in the rooms and throughout the hotel had a very timeless vintage feel.
Public spaces are very elegant and have a grand tone. The expansive flowered terrace gives comfortable seating and cocktail service to one of the best views of Mount Etna in the distance, the seaview and landscape are all quite impressive. Formal gardens add to the aura of this old world place. (And yes, there is a swimming pool!) The formal restaurant on the far end of the terrace featured a tasty menu based on local favourite dishes such as fried zucchini flowers, Pasta Saor, and delicate Sicilian cannelloni, and of course the well regarded local wine. Breakfast here too is a cornucopias buffet spread and they will even offer you the traditional Sicilian granita with brioche. It all is truly spectacular. The bar while small feels almost like you’d find Hemingway seated there. Indeed why not with such seasoned bartenders. Alfio the Head Bartender and his pleasant staff will mix and pour you anything you might wish. Try the house specialty the Etna Spritz, a great cocktail to enjoy during the aperitivo. In the evening sip your grappa while listening to the piano player and just relax… Because you can relax at the Grand Hotel Timeo, quite comfortably.
The whole hotel is charming and that includes the staff who are incredibly friendly and quick to help. From the minute you walk into the hotel and to everything you might need I’ve never felt a more caring professional hotel staff. The concierge desk led by the charming Head Concierge Stephen, was very knowledgeable and eager to help. I especially liked that restaurant recommendations which were not predictable regurgitated top picks but informed suggestions of places known and visited by the staff. Cars and tours can be arranged to see the splendid local sights from the astonishing Etna region to the regal south. I was always addressed by name and little things like remembering I had a double espresso for breakfast were warm details. Everyone will insure that your stay is exceptional.
The Grand Hotel Timeo is one of Taormina’s oldest hotels and is located right next to the Greek Theater. It is central and in a great location to see most points of interest in the picturesque town. I was so impressed with the Grand Hotel Timeo and incredibly sad to leave it’s hospitality. One of the best hotel stays I have had the pleasure of experiencing. I can’t wait to go back!
Grand Hotel Timeo Via Teatro Greco 59
98039 Taormina (ME), Sicily
Please note, I paid for my own stay and my review is based on my personal experiences while staying at the Grand Hotel Timeo.