Antica Focacceria San Francesco in Palermo, Sicily

Please let’s ignore the fact that Berlusconi has fooled a majority of Italians into voting him into office a third time, OK? And also that my local party lost as well. Instead let’s move on to happier, comforting topics.

Like food.

You may be wondering where What’s Cooking Wednesday is this week. Don’t worry, it’s still going on at Shannon’s Tales from a Fairy Blogmother, but here at Bleeding Espresso, I’m shifting it to Friday when I’ll be posting my mom’s stuffing/filling/dressing recipe for La Buona Cucina Americana. Be sure to come back!

Keeping the food theme going, though, and finally getting back to my trip to Sicily, I’m going to tell you about one of Palermo’s most famous spots, the Antica Focacceria San Francesco:

Antica Focacceria San Francesco on Flickr

The Focacceria is located on a tiny street opposite a small square anchored by the Chiesa di San Francesco d’Assisi:

Antica Focacceria San Francesco on Flickr

See that design near the top of the church? Here’s a view from inside:

Chiesa di San Francesco on Flickr

And here is some detail on the outside of the church (another here):

Chiesa di San Francesco on Flickr

You can’t miss this place as you’ll probably wonder why a carabinieri car and two officers are outside. All. The. Time. Erin of The Olive Notes explains the phenomenon here. Hint: it involves something that rhymes with “The Bafia” but it’s probably not what you think, so do read Erin’s post.

The Antica Focacceria has been around since 1834 and is listed in all the guidebooks as one of *the* places you should visit in Palermo for traditional Sicilian food; luckily for Cherrye and me, our hotel was literally just around the corner–in fact, that’s where the hotel got our delicious morning pastries from.

On our first night in Palermo as we searched alto and basso for something, anything to eat before 7 p.m. (unsuccessfully), we decided against the Focacceria because (gasp!) the ala carte food looked old and crusty (I’m sure it was great at lunch though!), and also because we didn’t realize that we also had the choice of eating upstairs, which is more like a standard restaurant and overlooks the hustling bustling ala carte section below.

We made a fabulous decision to return to the restaurant section the following night, though, and were treated to an amazing dinner that cost us each under 20 euros, including a small carafe of house wine.

We started out by splitting the Sicilian sampler (as I like to call it):

Antipasto, Antica Focacceria S. Francesco on Flickr

Pane con milza (spleen sandwich, which yes I tried and actually liked in a small dose), sfincione (thick Sicilian pizza topped with an anchovy, tomato, spicy mixture), arancini (rice balls with various fillings), potato croquettes, pannelle (chickpea fritters), and caponata (eggplant, peppers, capers, veggie mix).

And then on to one of Sicily’s most famous dishes
made with eggplant and ricotta salata,
Pasta alla Norma:

Pasta alla Norma on Flickr

And once we saw this dessert cart come to the next table:

Dessert cart, Antica Focacceria S. Francesco on Flickr

We knew we’d have to get something. So we split this:

Inside out cannolo, Antica Focacceria San Francesco on Flickr

Which the waiter just pulled from the cart and gave to us–no wax doubles like in America!

This was basically an inside out cannolo drenched in chocolate syrup. *So* good, as was everything apart from the pasta, of all things, being a tad undercooked and a bit salty.

But overall, you definitely have to stop in the Antica Focacceria on a visit to Palermo.

Aside from tasty traditional Sicilian food, a fun atmosphere, cheerful service, and great prices, the portions were so big that we didn’t finish anything. Unfortunately since we were leaving Palermo by train the next morning, doggie bags were ill-advised (and yes, I would’ve asked even though they’re not the norm in Italy!).

Tragic, I know.

Antica Focacceria San Francesco
Via Paternostro, 58
90100 Palermo
091 32 02 64

32 Beans of Wisdom to “Antica Focacceria San Francesco in Palermo, Sicily”
  1. 04.16.2008

    The Sicilian sampler looks yummy! Well, maybe not the spleen sandwich. Don’t know if I would be brave enough to eat that. πŸ˜‰

    Giulia’s last blog post..So Much Going On

    Honestly Giulia? It kind of tasted like a steak sandwich from back home, although with a little different texture. I can’t imagine I’d want to eat a whole full-sized one, but I’m happy it was in the Sampler πŸ˜‰

  2. 04.16.2008

    This is so great! I just LOVE this place. *thanks for the shout out :)*

    I’m so glad you got to try so many things! We saved the dessert for the next stop on our nightly rounds, but your selection looks wonderful!

    erin’s last blog pt 2 :: market, park, & more

    I have a feeling I’d be a regular there if I lived in Palermo. Such a fun place!

  3. 04.16.2008

    Yeah, I’ve seen the Focacceria on the news. They need all the support they can get. A lot of regulars have stopped going there because of their anti-pizzo stance. Wish more places in Sicily would be as brave as them.
    I’ve also heard the spleen sandwich was good but that inside out cannolo looks amazing!!!

    Linda’s last blog post..Have I Told You Lately That We Need To Go Out Sans Kids

    We had no idea about the anti-pizzo stuff when we were there, but the carabinieri certainly made us wonder. I’m happy that our hotel still goes to them for the pastries–so delicious!

  4. 04.16.2008

    Damn that looks good.

    running42k’s last blog post..Change we must

    And it was πŸ™‚

  5. 04.16.2008

    When everybody gets that sick of paying, the era of pizzo and mafia will be over.

    I am looking at this and now I am starving. BTW, anybody who has had mixed crostini up here has had spleen, I guarantee. That liver spread ain’t just liver!

    Judith in Umbria’s last blog post..Purea di Fave β€” puree of favas

    Good to know about the crostini Judith….

  6. 04.16.2008

    You know what, I am glad I don’t live in Italy because with my lack of discipline. I could have the body of a sumo wrestler with all that good food there!!

    Grace’s last blog post..the grandeur that is the Burj

    It’s not easy Grace, believe me πŸ˜‰

  7. 04.16.2008

    Yum! Great recap! I wish I could finish that dessert now. And, just so the REST of you know…Michelle ate the spleen sola!

    Cherrye’s last blog post..There’s a New Blog in Town

    Yes the spleen was mine all mine!!!!

  8. 04.16.2008

    Hey there, did you visit Termini Imerese? I miss having pannelli. My dad used to make them all the time.
    I need a recipe. I can’t ask my mom because whenever I try to make what my mom instructs it comes out crap.
    My sister can make them but ends up feeding her family with them and never saves me any.
    I never saw any mafia in Sicily. The only eyes watching me was the whole town…lol

    Lucy’s last blog post..SUPERHERO ME

    No we didn’t get there this time; it was too short a trip πŸ™ I’m sorry I don’t have a recipe for the pannelle.

    As for the Mafia, I’m sure you saw it–many of the half-finished buildings, for instance πŸ˜‰

  9. 04.16.2008

    First flight out of NYC for Palermo, please!

    themommykelly’s last blog post..Wordless Wednesdays: Heartbreaker

    I really loved Palermo, Mommy K. A lot πŸ™‚

  10. 04.16.2008

    That dessert looks delicious. You lost me at “spleen sandwich,” though.

    Stefanie’s last blog post..This just in: fruits and vegetables are GOOD for you.

    Hmm, how about panino di spleen? No?

  11. 04.16.2008

    I could do without the spleen sandwich, but love the cannoli!

    Anali’s last blog post..Waffling On Tax Day

    More spleen for me! Woohoo!

  12. 04.16.2008

    Okay, this was a bad post to read this close to lunchtime! πŸ˜‰ I don’t know if I could do the spleen sandwich. I love anything cannoli and that cannolo looked to die for!

    I have an easy-peasy (and DELICIOUS) roll recipe up today for WCW. No hard ingredients – everything Italy-Friendly.

    jen of a2eatwrite’s last blog post..What’s Cooking Wednesday: Miracle Bread!

    Thanks for the heads up Jen! It looks wonderful!

  13. 04.16.2008

    Oh man! Looking at those food pictures, I just know I gained at least 10 pounds right there. Looked so good! Shame on you for posting that many photos of such yummy food for people like me to drool over! Just kidding you there. Keep posting ’em. I’ll get over the virtual (I hope it’s only virtual) weight gain.

    Jeni Hill Ertmer’s last blog post..Missing a Day

    Oh dear, I hope it was only virtual too πŸ™‚

  14. all I have to say is “I am hungry now”.

    nyc/caribbean ragazza’s last blog post..What’s playing in Rome…Estelle feat. Kanye West

    Mangia mangia!

  15. 04.16.2008

    What a beautiful lunette window. btw, can I get take-out? -:)

    Billy’s last blog post..Cycles

    I’d like some too Billy!

  16. 04.16.2008

    I am actually EATING Pasta with olive oil, parmesean tomatoes, fresh garlic and basil…and this post made me hungry…

    sadira’s last blog post..It’s A Girl…

    It is some good food, eh? Yours sounds great too!

  17. 04.16.2008

    OH, this post just brought back so many memories of eating “croquetes” in Portugal…they were my favorite things to eat EVER…I wonder if mom could make some for me if I ask real nice…hmmm….

    Karina’s last blog post..Not talking about it

    Oh you definitely should Karina! YUM!

  18. 04.16.2008

    I’m not going to lie — spleen freaks me out. But pretty churches? Ice cream? Bafia? πŸ™‚ I’m in.

    Kelli’s last blog post..Nica-Brit-Bique

    Palermo is awesome Kelli; you should definitely put in on your list of future travels! And stop in Calabria too πŸ™‚

  19. 04.17.2008

    Oh dear, will I EVER get to Sicily. Dam…..I’m headed north again in June. After a free trip to Rome and Florence, thanks to Pioneer Electronics Corp. (in other words we sold a lot of TVs this year) we’re headed up to Genoa to experience all things Schenone.. ala, Laura Schenone….since my husbands mother is one as well. Do you know anyone that gives cooking lessons up there? Are you blogging with any ex pats that live up there? We’ve been in touch with Laura, she’s checking as well.

    I’m SO HUNGRY after reading this. How often do you crave Chinese food? Mexican?

    karen cole’s last blog post..COLLABORATION AT IT’S BEST

    Karen, there’s a great gal by the name of Megan who blogs from Liguria: Bella Vita in Liguria; definitely check in with her! I could be missing others, so do browse my links page and see if any others catch your eye πŸ˜‰

    I definitely crave Chinese food more than Mexican (Mexican isn’t *too* hard to reproduce for me anyway), but honestly, not too often–after 5 years, you just get into new routines I suppose.

  20. 04.17.2008

    I’ve been to Palermo, but I have never been to a restaurant in Palermo. So I have NEVER been. GAH! I have been to many a gelateria, however. I mean, my aunt has her standards.

    Did you love Palermo? I don’t remember which piazza it is, one in the center of the city? But at night they have teensy little lights (like fairy or Christmas lights) in the actual ground and when I was last there I found it simply magical. Man, I miss Italy!

    Christine’s last blog post..Highs and Lows…

    I *love* Palermo; we weren’t walking around too much at night, but I’ve seen photos of Palermo with twinkly lights…would love to see it in person πŸ™‚

  21. 04.17.2008

    Spleen sandwich? I am not sure I would be up for that…but the dessert looks luscious. πŸ™‚

    marye’s last blog post..Think Spring: Key Lime & Rose Muffins

    Marye, believe me, it wouldn’t be an every day choice for me either, but when in Palermo…. πŸ˜‰ Thanks for stopping by!

  22. 04.17.2008

    Fab review. I love the combination of cultural travel pics and the decadent food pics. Very enjoyable and tempting.

    Bella Baita View’s last blog post..Insalata di Bresaola and Rucola, the Ultimate Italian Fast Food

    Glad you enjoyed! Now you know where to go next time you’re in Sicilia πŸ˜‰

  23. 04.17.2008

    I totally agree with Giulia! The Sicilian Sampler looks amazing! Wish I was there.

    Lulu’s last blog post..Remembering Anne Frank

    I loved that they had that on the menu–perfect tourist dish!

  24. 04.18.2008

    I have to go back and read about your trip to Sicily. I missed out on that adventure, and with Cherrye nonetheless.
    I like the looks of the *sampler*.
    I am such a “doggie bag” lover.

    cheeky’s last blog post..a surprise “meeting” of sorts

    Cheeky you can find all my Sicily posts by clicking on the Sicily category in the middle sidebar *or* I’ve listed the major ones on my Favorite Posts page πŸ™‚

  25. 04.18.2008

    I love making “Pasta alla Norma”! Yum! Looks delicious. Really pretty picture of the focacceria’s exterior, too.

    The way we make Pasta alla Norma in this house is quite different from the “real” one we had in Sicily, but eggplants are always delicious IMHO πŸ˜‰

  26. 04.18.2008

    Mmmm…I think I’d skip the spleen and go straight for the dessert, quite frankly. Maybe several of them.

    That’s the problem with a dessert cart that looks that good: picking just one thing.

    Dessert carts have to be one of the most ingenious marketing techniques ever. Even when you’re thinking you don’t have room, you look over and see six or so things you *know* you could make room for…genius.

  27. 04.19.2008

    Ciao! Che splendido suggerimento, io purtroppo non conosco ancora Palermo! Devo rimediare πŸ™‚
    buon weekend!

    angie’s last blog post..Diritti d’autore

    SΓ¬! Devi andare a Palermo per forza πŸ˜‰

  28. 04.20.2008

    How I miss living in Sicily and getting to eat the divine food when ever I want! You must go back in the summer months and have a granita…there is no place like Sicily to have one and if you say you HAVE had one then you have not unless it is Sicilian!

    Leanne’s last blog post..Change in the wind

    Advice well-taken πŸ˜‰

  29. 07.25.2008

    A horribly yummy post!

    Indeed, it has inspired me to mix food with politics.

    Ever wondered what Berlusconi’s fave food is??;-)

    All the best,


    Alex’s last blog post..Billionaire’s Beef

    Well I hadn’t, but now I’m wondering if it might have something to do with beef….

  30. 07.25.2008

    My, but your perspicacious!;-)

    Smart too!

    Have a great weekend,


    Alex’s last blog post..Billionaire’s Beef

    I’ve been called worse πŸ˜‰

  1. [...] Special thanks to my bleeding heart bleeding espresso buddy for her insight and research on some of the ...
  2. [...] Rome has coratella.   Palermo has milza.   And Catanzaro?   Well, we have morzello.  ...
Michelle FabioMichelle Fabio is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer living in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy and savoring simplicity one sip at a time. 

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