Thursday, December 22, 2005

Trattoria Incognito

Another seafood eating extravaganza took place yesterday afternoon at Trattoria (trah-tor-EE-uh) Incognito in Acireale (AH-chee-ree-AH-lee) down by the sea. My friend Pat used to go there years ago, and she knows the whole family who runs this tiny little hole-in-wall place. They all call her by her first name, and every time a new dish was brought to our table (about every five minutes), the son-waiter would bring it to her first and say her name, "Patricia" (Pa-TREEZ-ee-uh), and then explain what it was so she could explain it to the other seven of us in English.

You'd never know it was a restaurant from the outside, as there is no other indicator than a bunch of people standing around outside waiting to get in! Luckily, though, we had a reservation for 3:00 PM for lunch and we didn't have to wait. I think they only serve lunch. The inside is small and cozy and Sicilian. Like others I've been to, this restaurant doesn't have a menu, but you just have what they are serving (like going to someone's house?).

We seated at a table with white wine and water and started with the antipasti, which really can be the entire meal in itself and almost was. We had probably over twenty varieties of seafood and fish of all kinds, including octopus, swordfish, dolphin, shrimp, mussels, clams, and sunfish pickled, fried, cold, warm, in the shell, on the shell, spicey, sweet, sour, garlickly, marinated, baked in pastry, skewered, and on and on and on. Each one was served separately family-style and we passed, passed, passed the dished around, piling up the empty ones in the middle. They were taken away and new ones brought to us. Probably the most unusual ones were "neo-natzi" fish, which are also known as "glass fish" because they are so tiny and new-born you can see right through them. (See the gray item in photo) We had them raw and also fried in a pastry. That might have been the only dish that anyone even considered passing on. So, the antipasti went on like that for about an hour.

We could have ended there, but most of us wanted to try some pasta dishes, too. In between courses, they brought us each a small lobster on the half-shell . . . just as a filler? We had three types of pasta--red, white, and black! The red one was a tomato sauce with seafood, the white was spaghetti vongole with mussels and garlic, and the black was spaghetti neri with squid ink. They were awesome--what else can I say? The black spaghetti had a large dollop of fresh ricotta on it, which none of us had seen before, but it was a nice contrast in color. Several in our party had never had the black spaghetti before, but everyone liked it, as usually happens.

By then, we'd had it. We ended with a very special sorbet that could be sipped. The waiter mixed in grappa, limoncello, and fragolino (strawberry liqueur) and it was delicious--the perfect palate cleanser! We then stumbled, waddled, or wandered across the street for an expresso. We needed it to stay awake for the drive home!

5 Comments:

At December 24, 2005 8:35 AM, Anonymous Kendra said...

neonato...n-e-o-n-a-t-o...like "baby" ;)

 
At December 24, 2005 8:50 AM, Blogger Maryellen said...

Yeah, but the plural is neonati, and there were a LOT of them!

 
At January 20, 2006 10:26 PM, Anonymous Leslie said...

This post was a killer for me. . . . I just wanted a bite!!

 
At October 05, 2007 11:41 AM, Blogger Currier Quinn Balent said...

Where is this restaurant? I lived in Acireale for three years and never heard of it. I'd love to try it!

 
At November 17, 2007 8:30 PM, Blogger annechung said...

There's a restaurant, I forgot the name) in Catania across the street from Palazzo Biscari on Vittorio Emanuele that served neonati for lunch. I loved it. I was just there.

 

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