Visiting the city, do you know what to eat in Trapani? Let me guide you through Trapani’s cuisine, you cannot miss this opportunity!
Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean and in Italy. An astonishing land, rich in enchanting beaches, full of monuments and archaeological sites, nature trails and typical specialities. It arouses strong emotions in tourists, which merge with the ancient local traditions.
Today I will accompany you to discover the typical dishes of Trapani: land of hospitality, salt and sailing. A cuisine made up of both sea and land dishes, tasty, authentic and delicious, influenced and contaminated by the Arab culture. Trapanese cuisine offers recipes that are poor in origin, but appreciated by travellers, because they are based on the quality and uniqueness of the raw materials, such as tuna and the red shrimp of Mazara del Vallo.
Often, the city’s characteristic products do not remain only in Trapani, but enter the homes of tourists as delicious souvenirs, reminders of an unforgettable food and wine trip. A wide range of typical Trapani delicacies are a favourite with visitors, such as: the Pantelleria caper, Trapani sea salt, red garlic from Nubia, Vastedda della Valle del Belice, extra virgin olive oil, and important wines such as Marsala, Bianco d’Alcamo and Passito di Pantelleria – three DOCs of international prestige and fame.
Your holiday is the ideal time to let yourself be pampered and delighted by the typical dishes of Trapani. So follow me on this gastronomic tour and I will tell you about the best of typical Trapanese cuisine. 👇
What to eat in Trapani
Are you ready to discover all the curiosities and traditions of Trapani’s typical dishes? 😋
1. Let’s get ready with some appetisers
Among the most typical appetisers of Trapani cuisine, we certainly have the ficazza di tonno. Its shape might resemble a traditional salami, but it is actually prepared with the meat of Sicilian tuna. In the Trapani area, this fish is called sea pig. In fact, all its parts are used without any waste, and then it is seasoned with sea salt and ground black pepper and then stuffed into a pig intestine. The processing period is around the months of May and June, i.e. the period when the tuna arrive in the Mediterranean to spawn and are then caught in the tuna fisheries.
Speaking of tuna, don’t forget to taste its botargo. This excellent starter is nothing more than the sac containing salted, pressed and dried tuna roe. With its intense, marine flavour, it is a popular ingredient in the kitchen.
2. Trapanese fish couscous with broccoli
This dish has its roots in the Berber domination of North Africa and was later spread by the Arabs. If you really want to taste Trapanese cuisine, you must try it.
It is made with “incocciata” semolina: a special process that requires time, patience and dexterity and is cooked in a special pot called “cuscussiera”. The grains, reminiscent of the grains of desert sand, with just a few drops of water, thanks to the rotary motion of the fingertips of the hands, become larger and are ready to be cooked.
Afterwards, the cous cous is seasoned with local vegetables, especially broccoli, as is traditional. In Trapani, the most famous is seasoned with an appetising fish broth. A tasty yet humble dish, it is part of the traditional Sicilian food specialities.
3. Pizza from Trapani (la Rianata)
This typical pizza from Trapani consists of a dough made from durum wheat semolina topped with tomato, plenty of oregano, anchovies and grated pecorino cheese. Excellent is the pizza Rianata: the variant with the addition of mozzarella. A must-try for your traditional Trapanese snack. The name Rianata derives from the Sicilian dialect in which “oregano” is pronounced “rieno”, the undisputed protagonist of this pizza, which gives it a delicious flavour and an enveloping smell.
4. Pasta with fish ragout
Pasta with fish ragout, such as tuna, swordfish, redfish and eel, is a typical Sicilian dish. Its strong point is, definitely, the use of fresh, high-quality ingredients such as freshly caught fish, garlic, chilli and local cherry tomatoes. This pasta with fish ragout, characterised by a creamy and tasty sauce, is a perfect choice for who want to taste the traditional flavours of Trapani cuisine.
5. Busiate with swordfish or with Trapanese pesto
Another typical first course is busiate. A short pasta with a characteristic twisted spiral shape. The dough, made with only water and semolina, is rolled on a knitting needle called “buso”, thus obtaining a fusillo that is narrow and hollow in the centre, excellent for catching the sauce. It is a very old recipe that originated in the ports of Trapani, where the ships of the Genoese stopped. The pasta is served with swordfish or Trapanese pesto. Pesto made with almonds, basil, extra virgin olive oil and tomato. Garlic is an essential ingredient for this condiment and the best is red garlic from Nubia.
6. Local street food
On the streets of Trapani, there is no shortage of street food. Delicacies such as cabbucio, a typical Trapani bread, is perfect for the traditional pane cunzato. It is stuffed with tomatoes, anchovies, cheese, salt and oil. Another street food sandwich you absolutely must try is the pane ca meusa stuffed with spleen and veal lung. Then you cannot miss the iconic arancini or the local fried fish coppu. Finally, panelle, soft chickpea flour fritters typical of Trapani.
7. Trapanese rolls
If you are looking for a meaty, tasty and tempting second course, Trapanese rolls are the right choice. A dish from the poor tradition, always present during family lunches, at local diners and restaurants. Slices of pork or veal loin, stuffed with cheese, pine nuts and raisins. Meat rolls with a cheesy interior.
8. Aubergine caponata
Another traditional dish from Trapani is aubergine caponata, a side dish you can’t miss. Made with fried aubergines, celery, capers, onion, olives, tomatoes and a sweet and sour sauce. A simple dish, but rich in flavours, a riot of tastes with a perfect synergy. It originated on peasant tables to replace the original recipe that called for fish, but has now been forgotten.
9. Sea urchins with bread and lemon
If you are looking for a quick but iconic dish from Trapani, here are urchins with bread and lemon. A real delicacy for you. This custom of eating sea urchins comes from the local fishermen. As soon as the urchins are harvested, they are cut in half, sprinkled with lemon juice, and the red part is eaten with bread. An explosion of sweet and salty for the palate; a valuable source of noble proteins and important minerals for your body. If this is accompanied by a local sparkling white wine, the intense and unique flavour of the urchins will give you a unique tasting experience.
10. Castelvetrano black bread
Among Sicilian breads, the black bread from Castelvetrano, a town near Trapani, certainly stands out. It is baked only in wood-fired ovens heated directly with olive branches. You should know that the very rare native wheat quality called “timilia” gives the black colour to this bread. Timilia is an ancient grain that has not been modified over time, distinguishing it from modern grains, and it is still grounded using stone mills. After baking, the bread releases a unique, toasty aroma that can only be savoured in this land. Protected by the Slow Food Presidium, it is even more magical when filled with almonds.
Frascatole are part of the Trapanese tradition. Their origin is uncertain. Some say they originated during the period when the French ruled Sicily, as a result of an error in the cous cous making. When the grains were too large, they were discarded. The most accredited option, however, is that it is a dish of Berber origin spread by the Arab rulers.
This dish is also labelled “wrong cous cous”. Being a poor man’s dish, it was formerly served with broccoli or broad beans, later served with fish, and then topped with lobster. The semolina is worked together with the flour and patiently water is added. The grains become larger and more granular than traditional cous cous. Finally, it is cooked in fish soup together with the broth. A rare dish to find, but absolutely unmissable and much sought after.
12. U Mataroccu
U Mataroccu is a dish that is difficult to find in Trapani restaurants, but it is a much-cooked home-made delicacy. It is the quality ingredients that characterise its preparation: red garlic from Nubia, tomatoes from Marsala and olive oil produced in the cumini of the Belice Valley. These products are exclusive to the territory of Trapani and its surroundings. You can season pastas, bruschettas and sandwiches with this.
13. Zuppa Trapanese all’aragosta (broken spaghetti in lobster broth)
If you are in the mood for a tasty yet sophisticated soup, you can try spaghetti spezzati in brodo di aragosta (broken spaghetti in lobster broth). This recipe is typical of the wild and unspoilt island of Marettimo in the Egadi Islands. It takes a long time to prepare, because the lobster cooks in the broth for about two hours, but is amazing in flavour with the addition of broken spaghetti.
A dish you absolutely must try is babbaluci, or snails – an excellent source of vitamin B12. This food is widely consumed in Sicily, particularly in the Trapani area. Snails are even sold at the market in large wicker baskets. A simple recipe, but with a special taste. No prejudices, they will amaze you!
15. Trapanese sardine meatballs
Meatballs consisting of fresh sardines, breadcrumbs, wild fennel, parsley, raisins, onion, pine nuts and chilli pepper. It is a classic dish of Trapanese cuisine, quick and easy, and excellent for those looking for an incisive and tasty flavour. With the addition of tomato sauce, they will be even more inviting and appetising.
16. Tuna with sweet and sour onion
A typical dish of the Egadi islands, it is called “tunnina ca cipudda” in dialect. These are breaded and fried slices of tuna served with delicious sweet and sour onions. A tasty dish that you will never forget once you have tasted it.
17. Caldo freddo
But now let us turn to a typical Trapanese dessert: the caldo freddo (hot & cold). This dessert was already being prepared in the early 1900s in a historic pastry shop in the city centre. But why is it called caldo freddo? – you may be wondering – this dessert gets its name from the hot and cold combinations that make up the dish. A soft sponge cake makes a bed for a delicious ice cream with cream, then covered with plenty of hot chocolate. Your taste buds will thank you.
18. Cannoli from Dattilo
The cannolo is the iconic sweet of all Sicily. The village of Dattilo is where you will taste the largest, tastiest and most renowned Sicilian cannoli. Traditional and with a typical flavour, Dattilo’s cannoli are a dessert you absolutely must try. The wafer, kneaded with vinegar and olive oil, is fried in lard and sprinkled with sugar, making it thin and crispy. It is filled with plenty of fresh, high-quality ricotta cheese. Keywords for these amazing cannoli are: fried and sweet. You can’t resist… There’s always room for dessert!
19. Genovesi of Erice
Another typical sweet are the genovesi from the beautiful town of Erice. They are short pastries made of durum wheat flour filled with custard and dusted with icing sugar. They are now part of the confectionery heritage of Sicilian cuisine. Crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, they are a must-have snack for your holiday.
20. To conclude…more delights
Of course, there are plenty of sweets, but you must try the Sicilian cassatas paired with an excellent Passito di Pantelleria. Or the cassatelle included among the P.A.T. traditional food products.
For breakfast, however, I recommend a nice and refreshing typical Sicilian granita. The graffe filled with ricotta and chocolate are definitely worth a try. Finally, the sfinci, soft balls of dough and sultanas fried and covered in sugar.
Events to taste Trapani’s typical dishes
This virtual voyage of discovery of Trapani’s typical foods is almost at an end, but first let me recommend the main events held in Trapani to taste the food and wine specialities of this wonderful city.
Here are some local festivals:
- The Dattilo cannolo Fest: a territorial marketing project to give tourists a food and wine experience centred on the typical Dattilo ricotta cannolo. Organised by the Ciuri Cultural Association in partnership with the Municipality of Paceco, it is held in mid-October.
- The Cous Cous Fest in San Vito lo Capo: organised in September with the municipality of San Vito lo Capo and the Feedback agency. A unique experience: cous cous tastings and live music with internationally renowned Italian artists. The event is also defined as a “festival of cultural integration”. Year after year, it becomes a meeting point for the most famous starred chefs, big brands and leading newspapers.
- Black Bread Fest in Castelvetrano: organised by the Pro Loco Selinunte of Castelvetrano under the patronage of the Castelvetrano Municipality in March. With bread tasting and other products from local companies, is an event to valorise local products.
- Stragusto street food festival: in the period of July, organised by Trapani Welcome in collaboration with the Pro Loco Trapani Centro and with the patronage of the Municipality of Trapani. Here you can enjoy typical Trapani street food. A meeting point for all those seeking tradition, culture and gastronomy.
Now that you know all about what you can eat in Trapani, don’t waste time and immerse yourself in the local tradition: savour every dish and enjoy every moment. Visit Sicily with Italia Delight! 😍
Cover photo: angela-marin-unsplash
Featured photo: pixabay, nikoanastasi