No trip to Catania is complete without sampling some of the interesting and delicious street food that makes Sicily so different. From granita Siciliana to cipollina and fried fish, you will find a new favorite food when you visit this lovely region. Eating on the street is a rather old tradition for the locals and as you stroll along, your senses will be inundated with the smells of cooking food.
You can meander through the city and find some of the best street food in Catania or you can join one of the many street food tours that are offered and hit some of the highlights through the city. Make sure you have an appetite before you strike out to find the best street food spots! Sample a variety of dishes and find several new favorites as you go along.
Before you start your street food adventure, drop extra bags or gear in a Catania luggage storage locker. You do not want to have to keep track of extra bags as you stroll through the narrow streets to sample tasty dishes, whether on a Catania food tour or out on your own. Enjoy this food journey!
Types of Street Food
Before you check out the Catania street food scene, you will want to be somewhat familiar with the more popular and typical street food that will be offered. There are several specialties that are traditional foods in Catania but may not be popular in other parts of Sicily.
While these are Sicily's famous rice balls, their name does vary depending on where you happen to be. For instance, in Palermo, they are called aracine and are round in shape. In Catania, they are called arancini and are pointed at the top like Mount Etna. Either way, they are rice balls rolled in breadcrumbs and deep fried. The middle is filled with various fillings such as meat sauce or pistachio.
These are traditional pastry rolls stuffed with cheese and can be found almost everywhere in the city. Cartocciata is traditionally stuffed with mozzarella, olives, and cooked ham but other filling combinations can be used such as mushrooms and salami, spinach and mozzarella, or pistachio and bacon.
Cipollina is similar to Cartocciata but is made with a puff pastry and has onions mixed with ham, mozzarella, and tomatoes. It has a tangy flavor and is usually a bit larger than a Cartocciata because of the airy puff pastry that is used.
Everyone is familiar with the traditional Italian dessert, but in Sicily cannoli is something just a little bit different than what you may be used to eating. Cannoli actually has deep roots in the Arabic culture but Italians added a twist. The cannolo Siciliano is a tube-shaped pastry shell that is stuffed with fresh ricotta cheese and just a pinch of sugar for sweetness. It is sometimes sprinkled with powdered sugar or drizzled with chocolate.
Minne di Sant’Agata
These interesting cakes are made in the shape of Saint Agatha’s breasts which were cut off before she died. The cakes have sweetened ricotta and chocolate chips that are formed into a marzipan dome that is then covered in icing sugar and a sugared cherry is on top. They are available year-round but are especially prevalent during February when Saint Agatha is celebrated.
Try this typical breakfast food that is mainly served in the summer. It is similar to sorbet and is made from water, sugar, and lemon juice and then frozen. It does come in several different flavors, usually coinciding with whatever fruit is in season. This icy treat is usually served with fresh cream and a brioche roll that is dome shaped. It is something you will definitely want to try.
Crespelle di Riso
Another name you will hear this street food called is zeppole and it is usually served during the feast of Saint Joseph held in March. This dish is made with rice cooked in milk and mixed with yeast, flour, sugar, and a citrus rind. It is then shaped into long tubes and deep-fried. Crespelle di Riso is served smothered in honey and water and sprinkled with cinnamon and icing.
Polpette di Cavallo
Horse meat is used instead of the traditional beef or veal in this dish. The meatballs are made using ground horse meat, breadcrumbs, eggs, parmesan, lemon zest, parsley, salt, and pepper. The meatballs are grilled, baked, fried, or simmered. Once cooked they are drizzled with a vinaigrette and served on warm bread or served smothered in a sauce.
The best street food vendors in Catania
With an abundance of vendors and restaurants serving up authentic and delicious food, you may get lost trying to find where to go or what to try. Sign up for a food tour or check out some of the places listed to give you a taste of what Catania has to offer.
Sicilia Street Food
Address: Via Etnea 235, Catania
Located on one of the busiest streets in the city, you will find affordable dishes that are flavorful and tempting, too. The fried seafood and arancini are delightful but who can pass up a steaming plate of authentic Sicilian spaghetti? You will find some of the best here.
Mm!! Street Food
Address: Via Pardo 26, Catania
Enjoy some of the freshest fish at a budget-friendly price here. Order the swordfish parmigiana and the arancini, fish rice balls in tomato sauce. The arancini, aubergine, and caponata are also great choices when looking for a filling meal that will hit the spot.
Address: Via Coppola 54, Catania
A favorite with the locals, you can find some of the best Sicilian pizza and pasta here. The gnocchi made with pistachio is absolutely incredible. The best part is you can sit down and relax over a glass of wine while you are waiting for your food.
Address: Via Crociferi 85, Catania
When you are looking for an on-the-go meal, look no further than La Tosteria, where the best sandwiches on homemade bread can be found. Located on a quiet, narrow street, it is worth the extra steps to get here. Try the fresh tuna with peppers, it is simply heavenly.
Address: Via Caronda 67, Catania
Just a short walk from the fish market, this small bistro and bar is the perfect spot to land when you are feeling hungry and searching for tasty street food. Order the cheese plate and a craft beer for starters and then check out their arancini and cartocciata, both are amazing.
Where to find the best Catania street food spots
While you can find a street food stand pretty much anywhere throughout Catania, there are certain places that are brimming with food vendors offering some of the most delicious treats you will ever try. Sign up for a street food tour that will take you to some of these food spots to keep from trudging all over the city looking for a variety of foods.
Catania Fish Market
Located right in the heart of the historic centre, the Catania Fish Market is just steps from the Amenano Fountain near Piazza del Duomo. This iconic open-air fish market is the biggest market in the city and it is also the busiest. When searching for fantastic street food, you will definitely want to stop here.
Several vendors set up stations where they will grill or fry fish straight from the market and offer other traditional and unique dishes all at a rather budget-friendly price. You can sample some of their dishes while you make your way through the market. Remember, this is a working fish market so you will be slogging through fish parts, water, and blood so wear appropriate shoes and clothes.
Catania Food Market
Head into one of the more colorful and vibrant sections of the food market where street food vendors have set up shop and things are a lot cheaper than in other areas. While it may not be super appetizing to come to this area to eat, with shaved sheep heads, drying meats, sausages, and cheese strewn about, you will find some tasty treats here.
If you can get past the disarray of the produce, meats, cheeses, and other foodstuff and focus on the decadent smells coming from the vendors, you will really enjoy the dishes you find here. It can get crowded as locals know exactly where to go to find good food such as pasta alla norma.
Via Plebiscito Catania
This popular area is located in the historic centre and is the best place to go to enjoy Arrusti e Mangi, which means roast and eat. Traditionally, freshly roasted meats were the backbone of street food in Catania and Via Plebiscito Catania is still the place to go when you are searching for some of the best cooked meat in the city.
Many restaurants along this street offer some of the best street food including many of the lesser-known meats. Take a stroll down the street and look for delicious food that is freshly roasted and ready to enjoy. Your mouth will water as you smell the different meats roasting.
Street food festivals in Catania
While any festival held in Catania will have fabulous street food available, there are certain festivals where you know there will definitely be an abundance of food vendors on hand. When you plan to visit Catania, you may want to consider coming during one of these festivals
Festa di Sant’Agata
Held every February 3rd through the 5th, this festival celebrates the life and sacrifice of Saint Agatha. For two days the people of Catania celebrate by feasting, dancing, shouting, singing, and marching through the streets. Food vendors offer traditional street foods and you will see an abundance of Minne di Sant’Agata, small cakes shaped like Saint Agatha’s breasts.
The Catania outdoor market comes alive during this time and you will find so many fantastic foods. Bring along the Tums, you may need some before the festival comes to a close! Sit back and watch the fabulous fireworks at the end of each day while munching on a sweet treat.
Festa di St. George
Held the last Saturday in May, the Festival of St. George is an actual reenactment of the martyrdom of St. George complete with parades, music, dancing, and of course, food. At the end of the day grab some of the best granita or gelato sit back and watch one of the biggest fireworks displays in all of Sicily. It's a free activity you can't pass up!
Throughout the day you will dine on every kind of meat imaginable, enjoy tasty arancini, gorge yourself on cannolo Siciliano, and top your day off with a refreshingly icy treat. This festival does draw a big crowd so be sure to make your travel plans well in advance.
Catania Street Food
It really is not that difficult to find some of the best street food in Catania, you just have to step outside your door and follow your nose! With the fabulous smells of roasting meats and vegetables, you will eat like a king when in this historic city in Sicily. Go shopping or museum hopping and then grab a bite to eat.
You can find tasty options in Catania and nearby places like Siracusa and Agusta. Sicilian cuisine is filled with rich foods, fantastic sauces, and wonderful pasta, all creating a delicious mouthful of total heaven. Whether you are feeling adventurous and want to try a horse meat sandwich or are a bit more traditional, you will find something that makes your mouth water.