We hope you’re hungry, because we’re about to show you a ton of authentic foods, desserts, and drinks to try in Palermo!
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The city of Palermo is the capital of Sicily, and one of the most conquered cities in history, which means that the food has been influenced by so many different cultures beyond just Italy! Think Greek, Roman, Arab, Norman, German, Spanish, and more!
All of that translates to lively markets (like Bollarò), a bunch of street vendors, and lots of delicous food.
First we are going to share the best foods to try in Palermo, then a few different Sicilian drinks, and — as always — end with desserts. So let’s get started!
Palermo Street Food #1: Arancine (fried rice balls)
Apparently arancine (also called arancini) are the only Italian food that has a patron saint, Santa Lucia. On December 13, this saint’s day, Sicilians eat loads of arancine because they can’t eat pasta or bread due to religious reasons.
But these fried rice balls are so delicious that they actually consume them all year round! What’s inside an arancina? Flavorful rice with some tasty mix-ins. You can find arancine filled with all types of flavors, but the popular ones are ragu with peas or prosciutto with mozzarella. And of course they are fried to golden perfection.
Palermo Street Food #2: Crocchè/Cazzilli (potato fritters)
Pronounced like the game croquet, crocchè are fried potato bites that are exploding with flavor! The golden potatoes are tasty on their own, but add in parsley, then fry them, and sprinkle a generous portion of salt on top, and you’ve got Sicilian crocchè (sometimes called cazzilli).
Palermo Street Food #3: Melanzane Fritta (fried eggplant)
After a trip to France in 2019, we learned to deeply appreciate eggplant. So when we saw that Palermo street food included fried eggplant, we were excited to try it.
The one we bought was thinly sliced and breaded, and made into a panini with a slice of prosciutto in the middle and shredded cheese on top.
If we’re honest, this dish was just okay. Maybe we should have tried it again from another street food vendor!
Palermo Street Food #4: Stigghiola (lamb or veal intestines)
Wow, this one is definitely a treat! First of all, you can recognize stigghiola by finding a grill that produces a ton of smoke. Once you see that, you know you’re in the right place!
This long, stringy, tentacle-looking food is actually intestines! It’s grilled to perfection, and surprisingly smells delicious. They chop it up into bite-sized pieces for you…but we bought ours without chopping it. That was a mistake! The flavor is delicious but the consistency is ultra chewy, which means we couldn’t even bite it!
After they chopped it, Brett tasted a yummy grilled flavor and chewed it for about a full minute before swallowing. Overall, it’s such a local staple that we recommend trying it!
Palermo Street Food #5: Sfincione
Looking for an on-the-go snack? Try sfincione! It’s like a thick pizza with a salty dough and extravagant flavor. You can find ones with prosciutto, ragu, eggplant, and so much more!
Palermo Street Food Honorable Mentions
We only saw Pane Con La Milza (spleen sandwich) once, and had just eaten dinner so we couldn’t stomach it. Plus, it’s a combination of veal lung, trachea, spleen served on a bun…not the most appetizing dish in our opinion!
We never spotted Frittola (fried cow meat, lard, and cartilage), but it was on our list to try. Essentially this is all of the leftover bits after a cow is slaughtered. One thing is true of the Sicilians, they don’t waste any of the animal’s meat!
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Palermo Street Food Drink #1: Sangue
In Italian, Sangue means blood. And the color of this alcoholic drink did resemble blood! We couldn’t quite tell what it was, maybe a fortified wine, but it was not the tastiest drink. Brett did drink most of it, but I don’t think we’d order it again.
Palermo Street Food Drink #2: Aperol Spritz
Now this is a drink that we can have over and over again! In fact, we’ve had an Aperol Spritz so many times because this bitter orange drink mixed with prosecco is one of the most popular drinks in Italy — and Europe!
Palermo Street Food Drink #3: Blood Orange Juice
If you didn’t know, Sicily is famous for blood oranges. They look similar to regular oranges except they have a deeper red/pink color. Overall they taste similar to the orange juice you’re used to. If you like that, then Sicilian blood orange juice should be on your list of drinks to try!
Palermo Street Food Drink Honorable Mention: Nero d’Avola wine
We didn’t feature this in our video, but that’s because we have already had it before. In fact, Nero d’Avola is Jana’s favorite type of red wine. It’s famous throughout Sicily, so be sure to try some if you visit Sicily.
Palermo Street Food Dessert #1: Cannoli
Jana’s family is from near Trapani, Sicily, and they have been making their own homemade cannoli for years. So we’re familiar with this dessert! So while we were in Palermo, we opted for a creative cannolo from Cannoli & Co.
Imagine a fresh cannolo shell coated with dark chocolate on the inside, filled with hazelnut cream, and sprinkled with chopped pistachios and powdered sugar on top. Yummy!
If you’ve never had a cannolo before, definitely try a traditional one with ricotta inside!
Palermo Street Food Dessert #2: Granita
This tasted like Luigi’s Italian Ice — but way better! It’s a combination of fresh lemon juice, sugar, and ice. That’s it! Granita comes in a variety of flavors, but before you sample the rainbow taste the typical limone (lemon) one first!
Palermo Street Food Dessert #3: Gelato con Brioche (gelato with sweet bread)
Jana calls herself a gelato connoisseur, and she highly approves of this dish! Gelato con brioche is a sweet bread filled with gelato. Yes, it’s as amazing as it sounds. Because what can be bad about combining bread and gelato?!?
You might also like: Discover one of Jana’s favorite gelaterias in Rome!
Palermo Street Food Dessert #4: Frutta Martorana
Before we introduce this dessert, we have a little story to share about them. Years ago some nuns were expecting a visit from an archbishop. They really wanted to impress him, but the trees in their garden were bare. So they decided to make fake fruit and hang it on their trees. That’s how Sicily ended up with frutta martorana!
Made from almond flour and vanilla, these sugar-cookie-like bites legitimately resemble real fruit! We bought one that looked like an orange, but there are watermelon slices, strawberries, figs, and every kind of fruit imaginable!
These sweet bites are a bit pricey but absolutely worth a taste. In fact, kids still receive frutta martorana on All Souls Day, November 1!
Palermo Street Food Dessert #5: Cassatina Siciliana
This was our favorite dessert we tried! It surprised us with its creamy insides dotted with chocolate chips, and the stiff pistachio coating really incorporated all of the flavors together!
Words can’t describe the yummy taste of a cassatina, so do yourself a favor and buy one when you’re in Palermo!
Palermo Street Food Dessert #6: Torta Setteveli (7 veils cake)
Torta Setteveli means “7 veils cake,” and that’s because it has 7 layers! The bottom layer is slightly crispy, but the remaining 6 creamy layers of chocolate and hazelnut melt into your mouth like perfection!
Palermo Street Food Dessert #7: Biscotti di Mandorle (almond biscotti)
The last item on our list of foods to try in Palermo is biscotti, particularly almond biscotti. This treat is made with almond flour, sugar, and eggs. It’s crunchy on the outside but quite soft on the inside.
Growing up, Jana’s family always had biscotti with coffee after dinner. We don’t know if that’s how they enjoy these in Palermo, but Brett said they were a perfect combination!
Hungry for more Italian food?
Check out the best food to try in Rome! Don’t miss the map with all of our favorite spots in the city too!