Rated number 1 on Tripadvisor and located in the town center on the historic Piazza Carmine, the hotel is in a lovely old restored building with an elegant mix of the antique and contemporary, old stone walls with glass walkways and elevator. The rooms are spacious and comfortable and the service friendly. Wi Fi is available in the public areas for a fee.
The breakfast spread looks amazing, especially if you like cakes and pastries, but less so if you like a more savory breakfast – poor selection of cheeses and grainy breads. They did, however, have a decent fruit selection. Parking is available in the piazza in front of the hotel.
Il Mare Colore del Vino
Located at Via Caturca 13, just off of Piazza Carmine. A casual dining room done in bright warm colors as the name of the restaurant suggests. Just across the street, facing this restaurant is another restaurant with a similar menu and the exact same color scheme and casual style. We didn’t eat at the other place, so I can’t say how they compare in terms of food quality and service.
At Il Mare we had the penne all’arrabbiata and the spaghetti al nero di seppia (cuttlefish, similar to squid, in a black ink sauce). While the arrabbiata was just OK, sweet and not very spicy, tasting more like Chef Boyardee than anything really Italian, the al nero was excellent with nice sized pieces of cuttlefish. Black creamy heaven. Service was attentive and friendly.
Located at Via Caturca 20, just off of Piazza Carmine. The bottega is a more upscale restaurant with a pleasant patio in back of the dining room with a modern feel, complete with Astroturf. Actually, in the dim light of the paper luminaries it’s hard to tell it isn’t real grass. The setting is quite charming with its quirky fake grass and plastic chairs. The menu is very much like the typical Sicilian menus we saw.
We started with the Antipasto di Mare ed Affumicati, an assortment for two of various seafood appetizers, including two kinds of smoked fish (swordfish and tuna), an octopus salad, another kind of cooked fish with onions, a shrimp and orange salad, and bruschetta (toasted crusty bread) with tomatoes and smoked fish, very well done and generous for two.
The Filetto di bosco al Marsala, a beef fillet with a wonderful light Marsala sauce and a mound of savory mushrooms, perfectly done and tasty. The flavors of the Marsala wine and the mushroom melded perfectly with the beef without being overwhelming. Spaghetti con Triglie di Scoglio e Pomodorito, a tomato based spaghetti sauce with red mullet, was also excellently done.
We wanted to try one of the regional wines – in the region of Marsala they make more than the sweet fortified wine they are famous for – and the waiter recommended the COS, Nero di Lupo, an authentic Sicilian unfiltered Nero D’Avola varietal, which we enjoyed very much. However having just looked it up online, is not from Marasala but Ragusa, on the other side of the Island.
For dessert we tried the 20 year old Marsala, same price as the 10 year old but less sweet (of course this information is coming from the same waiter that recommended the wine.) We did, however, enjoy the Marsala and it wasn’t as sweet as some dessert wines, pairing nicely with the Sbriciolata di Pere con Gocce di Cioccolato (a pear cake drizzled with chocolate).
The service, if a bit inaccurate, was quite friendly and attentive until we wanted to pay the check and leave. With very few customers left in the place, our waiter became distracted with another guest, spending 15 minutes talking to him before disappearing for another 10. Even so, a lovely dining experience on a soft warm night.
For links to all the posts in this series see the Sicily page.