Palermo | PerciaSacchi

When in Palermo, try PerciaSacchi for a taste of Sicily that’s off the well-beaten tourist track. On a pint-sized square among the labyrinthine alleys of the ancient district of Il Capo, which lends its name to one of the city’s famous animated and colourful daily markets, PerciaSacchi is more into mellow-and-charming than design, but then that’s more in keeping with its spirit. The guiding principle at the intimate pizzeria-cum-restaurant is farm-to-fork. It was on the frontline of what would happily become, even this far south, a trend for Slow-Food-style ethics and zero food miles when it opened some 3-and-a-bit years ago, and still strives daily to perfect the concept. PerciaSacchi is a group of friends who share a passion as well as a profession. They source their raw materials locally as far as possible, in any case know exactly who produces them, and how, sometimes help with the harvest themselves and follow the trail right onto your plate. So obviously the menu changes with the seasons and even week by week, according to the availability of good, fresh produce.

It’s a spirit which naturally embraces respect for the environment and for local customs. The menu is inspired by time-honoured, regional recipes, favouring those simple dishes in which few components complement one another but not excluding innovative interpretations which enhance rather than overturn the traditions. And then there are the classical slow rhythms of these parts to be heeded, particularly where doughs and yeasts entail processes that can’t be rushed. If PerciaSacchi isn’t only a pizzeria, it certainly has a vocation for quality baking. The odd name is in fact that of an ancient variety of wheat cultivated on the Med’s largest island. It prides itself on using only flours stone-ground from durum wheat or other grains historically grown there, and its own active yeast, for all the memorable baked specialties it serves. Those crafty pizzas come in a few classic versions and many seasonal or very specifically Sicilian ones, with cheeses you won’t find elsewhere, the freshest Pachino tomatoes and/or the salted, cured fish roe called bottarga, for example. Choice of starters, pasta dishes, mains, salads and desserts is more limited, more defined by the seasons and governed by a criterion of quality over quantity: still all as beautifully presented as they are contrived. Excellent Sicilian wines and microbrewery beers complete the experience. Open only evenings, by the way.