There’s nothing like a Sicilian summer—and after spending three delicious weeks in Sicily last summer, I think I know what I’m talking about! Three weeks just wasn’t enough time to explore this stunning island in the south of Italy. But it was just enough time to fall in love with Sicily—its dramatic landscapes, its Baroque cities and villages, its warm people, and of course, its food.
So when restaurant, bar, gallery and event space 5&33 offered me a chance to revisit Sicily through its cuisine, I jumped at the chance. This season, 5and33 offers a special Sicilian summer menu from 15 June to 15 September. Can you really get authentic Sicilian flavors in Amsterdam? On one of the (appropriately) hottest days of the year, I made it my mission to find out.
5&33’s aperitivo opened the evening on the right note. Italicus liqueur has all the flavors of Sicily: bergamot, gigantic cedro lemons, chamomile, lavender, gentian, yellow roses and Melissa balm. Mixed with Fever Tree tonic, this perfect pour instantly transported me to Sicily.
Drinks in hand, we were welcomed by 5&33’s Chef Nadia, who comes from a small village in Sicily. Chef Nadia revisited her roots to create this special menu. Sicilians are fiercely proud of their local ingredients and traditional cuisine, so I knew we were in good hands.
First we tried the couscous salad, done in the traditional style of Ortigia, the walled island within Siracusa, one of Sicily’s most beautiful cities. This light and refreshing salad is one of the stars of 5&33’s Sicilian lunch menu, which features couscous done three ways with a glass of Sicilian wine for just €16,50. Not bad at all for a little lunchtime escape.
Next we tried the dinner menu, which you can order a la carte or choose three courses for €33. The starters of this dinner menu fell a little flat for me: vitello tonnato (sliced veal, capers and tuna mayo), octopus salad, and tuna carpaccio are not particularly flavorful. I would order the caponata di melenzane instead, a sweet and sour traditional eggplant dish with warm Sicilian provola cheese. This starter packs more of the bold authentic flavor I associate with Sicilian cuisine.
Look at that, it’s Sicily on a plate! Chef Nadia’s arancini (deep fried risotto balls) took me right back to sizzling hot afternoons sitting on the steps of Sicily’s gorgeous cathedrals, or on the beaches of the Mediterranean.
The traditional Sicilian desserts are really where 5&33’s summer menu knocks it out of the park. Chef Nadia’s homemade cassata Siciliana—round sponge cake made moist with fruit juice, layered with ricotta and chocolate—is every bit delicious as it looks, while the cannoli filled with ricotta cheese are sinfully rich. I may have had more than one or two servings. Maybe even more than three.
If you prefer savory endings over sweet, then be sure to sample the Sicilian cheeses—salty ricotta, cheese with saffron, and a strong local cheese made with grapes. Oh, just looking at this makes me hungry all over again.
So there’s no reason to feel stuck in Amsterdam this summer. Not when you can escape to Sicily in just a few (very authentic) bites. Let us know if you do check out 5&33’s Sicilian summer menu, or if you know anywhere else in town where we can find authentic Sicilian food. I’m so there!