Chef Massimo Mantarro at Taormina's San Domenico Palace.
In 1866 the Prince of Cerami inherited a 15th century monastery in the ancient seaside town of Taormina. At the time, Taormina was already an obligatory port of call on the Grand Tour and the Prince quickly converted the monastery into a hotel to accommodate the most illustrious of Sicily's European visitor's.
More than a century later, the San Domenico Palace Hotel is still one of Sicily's finest hotels, famous for its sumptuous public rooms, luxurious suites, shady cloisters and elegant gardens with sweeping views extending from Taormina's Greek theater to the smoking summit of Mount Etna.
The "Principe di Cerami" is the most prestigious of San Domenico Palace restaurants. Open from April to October, the elegant eatery is the realm of the young chef, Massimo Mantarro, the man responsible for "Principe di Cerami" being awarded its first Michelin Star.
And it is important to stress the first, because in the 2010 edition of the authoritative "Red Guide" to the world's best restaurants, the eatery has been included in the new category of "potential two star": an explicit invitation to continue on a road, which has every probability of leading to a second Michelin star in 2011.
In fact, Massimo Mantarro asks no more than to be left to proceed on his journey exploring the gastronomy of his homeland, and its transformation into light and exciting modern Mediterranean cuisine, in which the consistencies and the combinations of ingredients vary, but all the rest remains faithful to the traditional harmony of Sicilian flavors.
Mantarro's use of aubergine, a mainstay of Sicilian cooking, is the perfect demonstration of his ability to transform the island's cuisine whilst remaining faithful to its essence, and his aubergine and tomato mousse is the equivalent to gourmet heaven. Mantarro's cream of broad beans with ricotta stuffed Savoy cabbage, Favignana tuna roe and peperoncino pistils is another 100% Sicilian dish which the taste buds will relish.
In the autumn, the restaurant occupies an elegant dining room with just seven tables set with beautiful table linen and precious porcelain. In the summer, guests dine on the magnificent terrace overlooking the sea of Taormina.
Mantarro's menus are the result of his conviction that there is room for both tradition and innovation within a culinary culture as varied as that of Sicily.
In fact, Mantarro moves with ease from classic specialties including the "arancino di riso" to daringly contemporary first courses such as his "spaghetti with lobster, sea urchin and almond milk". The dessert menu is, again, a product of both Mantarro's culinary expertise and his love of Sicily. The "cassatina" and "cold mandarin mousse" are both an absolute must.
Restaurant Principe di Cerami
San Domenico Palace Hotel
Piazza San Domenico, 5
Tel. +39 0942 613111
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