Baciamolemani Restaurant in Marina di Ragusa
Text and photograpds by Paolo Alciati - May 14, 2008
Sicilian-style seafood cuisine "revisited" by young restauranteur Giancarlo Gurrieri and his efficient staff.
Try to pronounce the following three words as if they were one: OceanBeachRestaurant.
This may convey the image of a small eden-like location in Marina di Ragusa, in Sicily, with the Mediterranean about 60 feet away and the restaurant on a beach graced by a series of small dunes, an environment which gives the serene sensation of being encompassed in peaceful culinary paradise. The evocative image of two tourists on horseback riding along the beach completes the picture and invites diners to fully enjoy the offer of delicacies which, soon enough, will appear in front of you. In fact, the appreciation of what will turn out to be an absolutely delightful lunch starts with the look. The dishes offer a balance of flavors and perfumes worth becoming memories of a perfect meal, from beginning to end, without flaws or excesses, each entree paired with the perfect Sicilian wine.
From left: Cristo and Francesca Lepori, Fiorenza and Paolo Alciati
The delicate Ricotta vaccina, olio di finocchietto e ostrica "Belon" (Cow Milk Ricotta with Wild Fennel Oil and "Belon" Oyster) opens the meal introducing the local delicacy, a flavorful dairy product, paired with the rich, meaty, savory Belon oyster which, nonetheless, does not overwhelm the ricotta flavor. A sip of Tasca d'Almerita Brut cleanses our palates and prepares them for the Crudità di mare in guazzetto di menta (Seafood Crùdites in Mint Sauce), with squid so fresh it seems to melt in the mouth, with the light, aromatic mint pesto. Next comes the Carpaccio di ricciola, arance e finocchi croccanti (Ricciola Carpaccio with Oranges and Crunchy Fennel), which features two typical local ingredients, raw seafood and oranges in an interesting combination of flavors. The bubbles of the prized Almerita, a sparkling 100% Chardonnay wine, enhance the excellent sensation and perfumes of the dish, and introduce the unusual Tonno alla siciliana, sale affumicato e cannella (Sicilian-Style Tuna with Smoked Salt and Cinnamon). The tuna is barely seared, not dried up as too often happens in many restaurants, and paired with a spice such as cinnamon, which is usually found in sweet dishes but, deferring to oriental traditions, reminds us of Sikelia, the ancient name of Sicily, whose ancient dominations have brought exotic flavors to the island.
Cow Milk Ricotta with Wild Fennel Oil and "Belon" Oyster
Seafood Crùdites in Mint Sauce
Ricciola Carpaccio with Oranges and Crunchy Fennel
Sicilian-Style Tuna with Smoked Salt and Cinnamon
The next dishes are two excellent, strong flavored pastas: Spaghetti alla chitarra con i ricci (Spaghetti alla Chitarra with Sea Urchin) and Traghetti di "Gragnano", pesto alla trapanese, bottarga di tonno e patate fritte (Traghetti Pasta from Gragnano with Trapani-Style Pesto, Tuna Bottarga, and French Fries). We are totally amazed by the decidedly strong flavors offered by these two recipes, which are paired with a well structured white wine, the Riflessi di Sole (Sun Reflections) Insolia 2004 by Avide. It's a 100% Inzolia wine fermented in barriques which complements the pastas splendidly. The next dish, Tortino di spigola alla Norma, mollicata al pistacchio di Bronte e passatina di pomodoro costoluto (Norma-Style Sea Bass Cake with Ground Bronte Pistachios and Tomato Sauce), is the elaboration of a traditional condiment paired with seafood.
Spaghetti alla Chitarra with Sea Urchin
Norma-Style Sea Bass Cake with Ground Bronte Pistachios and Tomato Sauce
The white meat of this fish is excellent, and the stuffing is simply excellent!
When we are served the dessert, which include Tiramisù al bicchiere, il Semifreddo al torrone e salsa di pistacchio e la Ricotta e cuccia (Tiramisù, Semifreddo with Torrone and Pistachio Sauce, and Sweet Ricotta Cheese Cuccia) we wonder why is there tiramisù on a platter of Sicilian desserts, since this island is the homeland of excellent typical pastries? After tasting it, we agree that, despite the fact that this is a typical dessert from Northern Italy, the skillful preparation wiped out any doubts. Both the semifreddo and the cuccia, a delicious, fine ricotta cream with flour, chocolate and the omnipresent pistachio, completed the excellent meal, highlighted by the the kind attention of the restauranteur and his attentive, professional staff. An experience worth repeating!