After two weeks sampling the scene in Siracusa my verdict is that the restaurant offerings while good to very good are often less than excellent. By contrast there are two establishments, however,that are so spectacular that they must not be missed by anyone who takes eating as one of lifes great pleasures. Located next to each other at the seaside end of the market in Ortygia there are two astoundingly good food stores. Both offer top quality Sicilian products and samples are lavished on the casual visitor. The first is F.lli Burgio which specializes in prepared vegetables and spreads, olive oils, jellies and meats. The ham and sausages come in many varieties and while we did not sample all, all those we tried were superb.
The second establishment right next door is Caseificio Borderi an even more impressive esablishment. Father, mother, son and daughter in law are all behind the counter. They lure you in with samples dispensed on the street and the operative rule is say yes to anything they offer you. The establishment makes its own cheese and dairy products and each is impressive. Nazarino and her husband are charming and speak excellent English and French. On the first visit after our first tase of tricotta = a baked firm ricotta = on bread with a spread of sun dried tomatoes in olive oil with mint, capers, and hot peppers we were hooked. Now we were inside the store and what followed was the offer of small sandwiches of mayorkino (I probably didnt get that name exactly right) with garlic, and basil. The feast continued with store made mozzarella, ham, thickened cream of balsamic vinegar and oregano. And we hadnt bought anything yet. They opened bottles of home made beer. Then small samples of wine. As if that wasnt enough then came wonderful almond cookies that were delicious accompanied by glasses of moscato. We turned down smoked mozzarella. Nazarina kept saying I make you present. I make you breakfast. I make you now something very special. And mind you this wasnt just for us. Her husband was doing the same thing in French for another couple. Of course we bought some of everything and got a bottle of Moscato as another present.
The next visit two days later Nazarina remembered us and started on a whole new menu. Brasiola with lemon and garlic and a cheese I believe she called Perdura - meaning lost cheese - and caper berries. She was sorry they were out of the almond cokies we wanted more of but ran to the back and brought out just made cannolies. The sweetend riccota was delicious. It was 11 AM and there was no need for lunch. Though the store does make sandwhiches to go.
Our third and last visit produced new cheeses an array of sausages both sweet and mild, different wine, more beer. Again, we werent beeing treated differently than any of other people who walked in the store. Yes, most people were buying after sampling but the samples were offered with such enthusaism and kindness and the food so genunely excellent these were not purchases made from guilt. The combination of genuinely great food and genunely warm hospitality is a marketing strategy that cant be beat.
Of course we bought more than we could possibly eat and had more items vacuumed packed to take home. This was a great experience and a wonderful memory of Siracusa. A truly not to be missed foodie experience.