To understand the notion I’ve been “preaching” here that Sicily is mainland Italy 30 years ago (I went from 20 to 30 after being corrected by actual Italians living in NYC) one must simply go to Tonnara di Bonagia on the western tip of the island where once tuna hunted and butchered in ways that are only talked about these days. And to fully appreciate a meal at the sensational Sirena di Sansica, a 20 minute drive from Trapani, one must arrive earlier, right before sunset. The rugged coastline leading to the rock of San Vito Lo Capo is mesmerizing. Even with a wedding party patiently waiting their turn, you hesitate to give up the spot. Compared to much of mainland, the area is underdeveloped and you selfishly wish that it stays like this forever. Ancient boats lining up next to the Tonnara, overlooking the colorful port around the Albergo Tonnara Di Bonagia Resort. A magical moment to say the least. All to the magical sounds of… Reggaeton!!!
One of the most bizarre things we’ve ever seen on vacation. The worlds smallest, oddest and loudest, three participant Zumba class was right by the port. I mean, I like to listen to music loud, but this was LOUD. I guess such things are normal here. We danced, the wedding party danced, the seagulls danced, everybody danced. The volume isnt deafening due to the open space, but its at the point where your booty, shoulders and other parts start to move involuntary, while you wonder what the hell is going on here. How does one nap in this sleepy looking corner of the world
Even after recent renovations to modernize the place, Sirena di Sansica is old school. Outside it looks like an old movie theater or a disco, while inside its like a dim sum palace meets old Brooklyn trattoria. “Modernizing” in Sicily is like going from the 60’s to 80’s. The restaurant is facing the water, and the sunsets here speak more volume than the Zumba. Ok maybe not. But its really the type of place you immediately feel at home. Especially when the kids start making fun of their mom’s facial expressions after she had a little too much Grillo. Sursur from Donnafugata, the smoothest, most balanced Grillo of a Grillo filled trip.
But it’s all about the food and the fresh seafood due to the special relationship they have with the local fisherman including their own boats. You first get introduced to the lovely catch of the day and you sort of build your order based on that (along with other menu classics). This was a little more expensive ($140) than other meals but considering what we chose and ate, possibly the steal of the trip. Fantastically fresh mussels which my oldest guessed properly from Messina. She was probably thinking about clams but I gave her the credit anyway. Busiate with lobster was outstanding, but another Busiate, “Expo” stole the show… eggplant, pistachio, swordfish, breadcrumbs, and more. Rich but oh so nicely balanced and delicious. It’s called “Expo” because they made it for the Milan Expo as part of a food competition. Perhaps the best pasta of the trip.
Couscous with broth without the fish or any seafood was actually better than the other couscous we’ve had in Sicily with the fish. You can buy and add fresh fish but we saved that for the secondi. I picked 6 lovely Gambero Rossos from the ‘Bunny Ranch’ like lineup and these were the fattest and sweetest red shrimp of the entire trip. After realizing I prefer them slightly cooked than raw, we asked them to be grilled. Raw they can be a little limp. And a red scorpion fish they call cipolla (onion) made traditionally soup like, sautéed with a nice tomato based broth, specatucarly tasty dish (plate shown is one of the halfs). One of those meals.