Star Gazing in Taormina: My Favourite Michelin-Star Restaurants

I am a strong believer that you cannot understand a place just by looking at it; you have to hear its everyday soundtrack, smell its particular fragrances and taste its traditional cuisine before you can say you’ve really experienced it. That’s why, for me, food is always an inseparable part of the travelling experience.  

If you’re treating yourself to a luxury break, why settle for anything on your plate but the tastiest, freshest, most authentic local cuisine that the area has to offer? A holiday to Sicily – with its Arabic, French and North African ingredients and cooking methods, added to what has become an individual yet unmistakably Mediterranean melting pot – offers a veritable buffet of delights for the food connoisseur.

I have travelled around Sicily extensively myself and have found that one hotel in particular stands out for its exceptional culinary opportunities, both within its grounds and within easy travelling distance of its front door. I can personally recommend the San Domenico Palace Hotel to gastronomists who are seeking a five-star hotel with Michelin-star dining options. Prepare to be star struck!

San Domenico Palace Hotel, Taormina

When I stepped out of the taxi and looked up at the San Domenico Palace Hotel, I had one of those take-your-breath-away moments. A fifteenth-century monastery plays host to this luxurious five-star hotel, which sits in lush sloping grounds with a view of endless turquoise ocean. As you walk through the ancient cloisters, it is easy to forget that bustling Taormina is just outside the walls.

Onsite: Restaurant Principe Cerami

The Principe Cerami – named after the Sicilian nobleman who converted the monastery to a hotel – is one of three onsite restaurants at the San Domenico Palace. It boasts two Michelin stars for its impressive haute cuisine, which still manages to stay true to its roots with Sicilian flair. The chef, local Taorminesi Massimo Montaro, is an inventive and passionate creator with a long history at the hotel, working his way up through the kitchen to become Executive Chef in 2003.

Take the opportunity to try fresh interpretations of the staples of the Sicilian gastronomic tradition when you visit: I had the homemade ravioli pasta with ricotta cheese, garnished with wild fennel, pine nuts and anchovies tartare. Exquisite dishes such as this one make you realise how good ingredients cooked well are the simple key to excellent food.

“Ask for a seat on the terrace, where the sublime views over the Ionian Sea provide an exceptional backdrop for al fresco dining.”

Offsite: La Capinera

If your experiences of the Principe Cerami have inspired you to learn more about the art of accomplished Sicilian cooking, we would recommend that you visit the kitchen of Pietro d’Agostino. Away from the busy centre of town, La Capinera is a Michelin-starred restuarant with a beautiful terrace to enjoy in the summer. Pietro also runs cookery lessons to impart his vast culinary knowledge – he is such a friendly chap that I imagine these classes are fantastic experience.

Offsite: Osteria RossoDiVino

If cutting-edge cuisine on a plate that is a canvas is more your scene, you only have to walk five minutes from the San Domenico Palace to find Osteria RossoDiVino. This concept restaurant with its ever-changing menu uses only the freshest local ingredients from the local market. The small, open-plan space allows you to watch as chef Fabio Scordo creates his artistic masterpieces.

Oenophiles will rejoice at the osteria’s extensive wine selection, and the vast knowledge of the waiters who are only too happy to recommend something new with your meal. My waitress also let me try a range of different olive oils, explaining how differences in terrain affect their taste and colour.

Experiences and Education in Fine Dining

These culinary experiences in Taormina prove that food of the highest quality does not have to be a closely-guarded secret. The city’s most revered chefs are happy to share a word with their diners, which is why I continue to visit Sicily time and time again.

I would recommend a Sicilian gastronomic education while visiting Taormina to any of my clients. If you have been inspired to visit the San Domenico Palace Hotel, get in touch with the expert team at Prestige Holidays – they can arrange all the details for you.