Brioche, bignè, Martorana fruit and desserts revisited on an irresistible sweet-tooth tour of Catania.
7 Dec 2020
Catania, the city of the elephant, lapped by the sea and built on lava stone straight out of Etna... Catania also happens to be the Sicilian city of food and wine variety par excellence, not just eggplant parmigian and sushi-fresh fish, but sweets for people who love their sugar-high.
We choose five pastry shops on this very special sweet tour, offering variety and top-quality raw materials. Try out all the typical local desserts, from super traditional to modern reinterpretations.
Savia - Traditional pastries.
Founded in 1897 in the heart of town, nestling on the corner of Via Etnea and Via Umberto in the area known colloquially as “Catania’s Living Room”, as soon as you walk in you’re hit by the glorious smell of fresh-made arancini, pizzettas and onions... On the left is a panorama of fragrant puffs filled with chocolate, hazelnut, pistachio, almond and cream; colourful cassatas, and ricotta and chocolate cannoli filled on the spot, the wafer still crispy as it melts in your mouth. Then there’s cassatelle, soft chocolate and pistachio tartufi, and the Diplomatico, a delicate cream-filled biscuit. The granitas and ice creams - traditional flavours only! - are also top tier.
If you only try one thing: Almond and mulberry granita with cream, hand whipped, the flagship dish at this pastry shop, which happens to go exceptionally well with a typical local brioche “col tuppo”.
Café Europa - The place to see and be seen by the sea.
Since the ’60s, Café Europa has been packing them in at its fantastic location, a stone’s throw from the sea and Corso Italia, the most elegant part of town, lined by refined shops and splendid villas. Its ample outdoor terrace is a meeting place at all times of day. Pistachio fans flock here for the cakes, cannoli, biscuits and pastries prepared exclusively using finest Bronte pistachios. In wintertime, their honey-dipped “crispelle di riso” are a wonder of the Catania area. And don’t forget their quince, Martorana fruit, nougat and traditional cakes, as well as primo granita in many flavours, exotic fruit included.
If you only try one thing: Breakfast here is a unique moment for all Catania inhabitants. It may not be fast, it may not be standing up, but you get to take your time as you savour an Iris or a ricotta raviola (fried or baked), washed down by a short, strong coffee.
Pasticceria Verona & Bonvegna – from tradition to American desserts.
When it first opened in 1970, it instantly became a go-to big-event dessert place. Today, the pastrymakers continue to offer a variety of cakes and pastries: always-fresh mignon, cassatine, crunchy cannoli, shortcrust pastry baskets with fruit, and wonderful chestnuts with ricotta cheese, cream and chocolate. Then there’s their wide selection of dry pastries: almond pastries, lady’s kisses, ox’s eyes with jam, almond biscuits, pralines and citrus peel delights... Their list of specialties goes on: unsurpassed mini-Savoy, ricotta ravioli and sliced rolls.
If you only try one thing: Black forest cake, revisited Sicilian style.
Pasubio - The Pastinventors.
At Pasubio, they call themselves “Pastinventors”, because they use the finest raw materials that allow them to come up with unique cakes such as the Bausette, the Adam, the Fior di Pistacchio, and the Pinolimone Grandessert. The traditional cassata, cannoli, buccellato, soft torroncini, almond croissants, ice creams and amazing semifreddi are all just as worth tasting. This is the home of sweet things to satisfy “the sweetest of tooths” without putting a foot wrong.
If you only try one thing: Classic and pistachio bausette, seven different layers filled with creams of various consistencies amid thin sheets of crispiness. Better even than it sounds!
G Giuffrida - Takeaway pastry shop in the old town centre.
Giuffrida is a small place on the corner of Via Vittorio Emanuele, one of the city’s most important thoroughfares. The place is neither opulent nor elegant, but their desserts cabinets are magnificent. You won’t find sweets piled up going stale because the stuff moves swiftly off the shelves. Crispy irises full of cream, puffs, chestnuts, profiteroles, coffee and pistachio cakes, cannolicchi… this small pastry shop really is delicious. Come winter, their rice and honey crispelle are sublime. And because Giuffrida is a hidden gem, it’s also never crowded. Not to be missed!
If you only try one thing: The Fedora, one of the queens of Catania cakes. A thin and tasty sponge cake, handmade ricotta cream encased in almond flakes...
Where to stay in Catania.
The Palace Catania | UNA Esperienze, in Via Etnea, is the ideal place to stay and get to know the wonders of Catania’s historic centre. Plus it’s just a ten-minute drive to the sea. A historic luxury hotel complete with every service, this Una Group facility occupies a fully-restored building that has maintained a strong Sicilian identity. Don’t miss the skyline over the city and breathtaking views of Mount Etna. Book in to Palace Catania now for an unforgettable experience.