Il Porticciolo, Capo Mulini, Sicily 17/20


il porticciolo

HISTORY suggests this is a very old part of the world, predating even the Greeks, although it gets a bit hazy that far back, as does the geography. Acireale is both town and a province, so this restaiurant is nowhere near Acireale itself and closer to Aci Trezza which split off in some local feud a few hundred years ago, and a few millennium before that is mentioned in the legends of the Cyclops and Ulysses. See the full history here.

Il Porticciolo is listed as the 39th best restaurant in Acireale on TripAdviser but ignore that faint praise, probably very few people actually find it. (The number one is a street stall with only three reviews). I am curious too as to the street name. Wiki lists various famous Mario Martinez including an assassin, a weight lifter, an abstract painter, a Bolivian tennis player, a Honduran footballer, a boxer and a Mexican actor. Take your pick, it probably is none of those. This is on the port side. Look for Capo Mulini on the map.

There is a roundabout on the SS114 between the more fashionable Aci Trezza (literally, the harbor of braid cords, a craft that dates back to the 17th century) to the south and AciReale to the north from which you can pick up a slip road towards the Capo Mulini, and after about a kilometre it will get quite steep (there is a friendly if a bit corporate cheap hotel to the left you can stay at also known as the Capomulini Dimora Storica, no website), from there you walk – this is no harbor for a car. Park wherever you can, maybe in the parallel street. Keep straight past a few other trats both in the hillside and tacked on to the harbor wall, but keep going, they have their merits but Il Porticciolo is the last and most serious, almost too serious that you might fear that this is the kind of upscale Italian that just  poaches tourists and batters credit cards.

But it is not, just a solid high class old school Italian restaurant, on the habour that specializes in fish…from the boats outside. It does not have a web site but there are a smattering of nice words in Italian on Googleplus. Kar wrote last week : Personale squisito. Ottima pesce e frutti di mare. Location interna molto accogliente which translates into lovely, excellent, cozy, exquisite… you get the drift. What is also not mentioned  is that the passagero around here stretches down to Trezza on the SS114 but takes the form of a motorized procession of Fiats and Ferraris by which I mean a traffic jam of a summer evening. If you are travelling south to north of an evening go round it (on the 83 or 119) rather than try and sit it out unless that is your thing. Down by the port it takes more of the form of scooters and Pandas, a mash up of locals, campers and trippers from the neighbouring wildlife expanse.

The great and lamented San Frediano in Fulham Road, Chelsea might have been modelled on this, a couple of young waiters getting fed up with the old school and coming to London in the ’60s. It is just a table of antipastas and fresh fish in all kinds of ways and some pastas.

And when Sicilian food is done like this, what else is there to say? It is a restaurant run by the waiters supported by the fishermen where the kitchen is not asked to stretch its limits But given what they have to handle, there is no shame in that. Professional, polished, precise service, a smart table with a view, interesting local wines, fish so fresh you can eat it raw. The port is not so special as you would go out of your way (where Aci Trezza is worth the visit), although it rips up a good atmosphere of an evening for an Aperol, or two, or three.

Ristorante Il Porticciolo, Lungomare Mario Martinez, 10 95024 Acireale CT


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