Phenomenal Food and Wine Experience
There are restaurants that serve decent food, some that serve good food and even some that serve excellent food. And then there are a rarified few that serve exceptional food.
I had the great pleasure of being invited and introduced to one such dining establishment last week.
From the outside, this small, humble looking rustic restaurant does not give off the vibe that what you order will be spectacular.
But once you taste the simply prepared Sicilian dishes, your eyes will roll and you will exclaim, “wow!”
The restaurant is Norma Gastronomia Siciliana and the food is superb.
I was very happy to be invited to this incredible find of a restaurant to learn not only about Norma, but to be exposed to Firriato, a Sicilian wine producer with many varietals. The charming COO of the company, Federico Lombardo di Monte Iato, provided a brief lecture about the company, explaining where the grapes are grown, and how the wines are produced.
Firriato is located in Trapani, with 6 estates throughout Sicily, including one on the island of Favignana. This family owned business was founded in 1984 and produces wines from three different kinds of terroir: mountain, sea and hillside. 4.5 million bottles are produced annually.
At this spectacular wine luncheon, along with each course (there were 9!!) I sampled varieties including a white named Jasmin, which is a Zibibbo varietal, Santagostino Baglio Soria, made from Syrah and Nero d’Avola, and Harmonium, 100% Nero d’Avola.
Each wine was well paired with every course, which included Norma’s signature dish, arancina al nero di seppia (squid ink risotto rice ball filled with spicy shrimp ragu), caponata (sweet and sour eggplant with olives, capers, onions and tomatoes), pizza Rianata (Sicilian pizza with cherry tomatoes, garlic anchovies and oregano) and anelletti alla Palermitana in casseruola (ring shaped baked pasta with beef and pork ragu, peas, Italian ham, eggplant, and ricotta salata.)
Why is this food so excellent? The quality and freshness of the ingredients, and the delicate way the dishes are simply prepared made me feel as if I were back with my Sicilian family in the Bronx, enjoying a Sunday meal.
Bravo to chef-owner Salvatore Fraterrigo, who humbly told us at the luncheon that his restaurant was just awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand star (a restaurant where diners can order two courses and a glass of wine or a dessert for $40 or less) after only one year in business.
Norma Gastronomia Siciliana is located on Third Avenue and 30th Street, where Salvatore proudly offers Firriato wines (among others) on his well curated wine list.
I can not wait to return to try other pizzas, and of course, a Sicilian mainstay, pasta con le sarde (spaghetti made with sardines, fennel, pine nuts, raisins and saffron) along with a glass or two of a lovely Firriato wine.
For outdoor dining lovers (like me) there is even a patio to enjoy in warmer weather.
Norma Gastronomia Siciliana is my new favorite restaurant, and Firriato Wines will be my go to Sicilian wine producer.