A flight to Sicily may not currently be in your plans so why not try the next best thing? The only passport required is your taste buds. HDYTI contributor Caroline Sande was invited to pop down to Leicester Square and sample the Tasting Sicily authentic menu by celebrity TV chef Enzo Oliveri. 

 

It goes without saying that Italian food can have you shouting, “Bellissimo!” An evening at Tasting Sicily Enzo’s Kitchen will certainly have you living out your Italian dreams!

Having left my wanderlusting footsteps in Venice, Rome, Pisa and Milan I thought I had mastered the taste of Italian food – gelato included. So I jumped at the chance to review this artisan restaurant with hopes of discovering the region of Sicily and its history. I invited Debbie (@wanderlustcalls) along for the experience.

A hidden gem amidst an alley of theatres behind London’s Piccadilly Circus, you will find this Sicilian oasis. Don’t be fooled by the simple outward appearance. Opening its glass doors, you are greeted by a colourful mosaic staircase and stunning decor echoing the founder’s Sicilian roots. There is an upstairs intimate area reserved for cooking master classes, all bookable via their website.

 

Chef Goals!

Though Chef Enzo Oliveri himself was not around during our visit, his achievements did not go unnoticed thanks to his wall of fame.

The ‘who’s who’ list included celebrity chefs such as Gordon Ramsey and Michel Roux, action superstars like Al Pacino and Tom Cruise. Even the current UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a cameo appearance on the list of celebrity diners chef Enzo has cooked for and entertained.

Born in Palermo, Sicily, Chef Enzo Oliveri’s talent is not limited to cooking scrumptious food. He is a passionate promoter of a Mediterranean diet and was a proud judge and mentor at the 2016 Young Chef Olympiad. Despite his success, he remains humble about his achievements. (We later learned that his absence was due to being in Sicily sourcing authentic produce and stock for the restaurant).

 

Delicious Decor at Tasting Sicily

The restaurant has space to dine outside however we decided to escape the heat of the day and West End theatre crowds by keeping cool inside. The tables are made from lava stone from the town of Giarre which sits on the lower slopes of Italy’s Mount Etna and are hand-painted in a typical Sicilian style.

From the little that we learned from the waitress, Sicilian dishes can be a fusion of rich and distinctive flavours which are not typical of “Italian food”. Lucky enough we had a pre-selected testing menu showing off the restaurant’s best bits which saved us the food envy.

HDYTI Tip: Due to its location, they have a dedicated pre-theatre menu where reservations are recommended.

 

Creative Mediterranean Flavours

Let’s tuck in…

First up (to whet our palette), the waitress recommended we try the seasonal Sicilian wine. While Debbie opted for Grillo (a white wine with hints of citrus, pineapple and menthol), I stuck to a ruby red wine with hints of almond, flowers and violets. A glass sets you back £9.50 per person or £38 per bottle. 

Dish filled with Sicilian pasta sitting on top of colourful tiles at Tasting Sicily Enzo's Kitchen

A selection of traditional dishes including caponatina, parmigiana and arancina del commissario con panelle e crochette arrived as starters. The latter deep-fried dish was crispy chickpea fritters; rice balls with ragu and potato croquettes, an obviously tasty street food snack.

The mouth-watering flavours of the Sicilian parmigiana with aubergines, cheese, tomato sauce and basil had a ‘moreish element’ making it undoubtedly our favourite!

With our taste buds still exploding it was time for the main course, two unusual pasta dishes and of course one of chef Enzo’s signature dishes.

Who would have thought that pig cheeks could be so darn tasty? By far, the ribbon pasta with Nebrodi cured black pig cheeks and Bronte pistachio pesto was unlike anything I have tasted before and if that’s what Sicily tastes like I am jumping on the next plane there!

 

Food Coma Marks a Memorable Experience

Decent portions, wholesome meals and a belly full later, I was ready to forfeit dessert but managed to have a spoonful just for the taste factor.

Dessert was Cannoli, a tube-shaped traditional crunchy pastry with an oozing filling made from sweet creamy ricotta cheese – a heavenly treat for foodies with a sweet tooth.

Slowly drifting into a food coma it was time to call it a night.

The evening was a great introduction to Sicilian food and highly recommended for anyone, however, we both agreed that a trip to the region, surrounded by the locals with the beautiful scenery as a backdrop is a must. Sicily has officially been added to our travel bucket list!

Disclaimer: Caroline was a press guest on behalf of HDYTI. However, all thoughts and opinions remain hers.

 

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Collage of Sicilian pasta and starter dishes, along with a headshot of Enzo, head chef at Tasting Sicily London

 

 

Caroline Sande is the Founder of TravelEatSlay an apparel brand for travelling millennials. Her aim is to share travel experiences, explore global food cultures whilst expressing a fashion statement within a growing community of travellers. Through hosting group day trips around Europe, Caroline is passionate to show how accessible travel can be whilst connecting like-minded travellers.