The best restaurants in Marsala picked by Gambero Rosso

Oct 10 2023, 12:00
In this year's new entries, valid addresses and street food, here where to eat in Marsala. Plus some extra tips

The Wild West of Sicily dwells here, surrounded by vineyards - very low - as far as the eye can see, dry stone walls and persistent wind that attract sportsmen from all over Europe: they arrive, thanks to the proximity of Trapani's airport, for kitesurfing, the sport that has turned the Stagnone Lagoon into an international trendy destination.

Marsala's huge territory, with more than a hundred districts, from the countryside to the sea, with views that, from the heights, are daily gifts: lengthwise, the town stands out against a lagoon, the Isole dello Stagnone Oriented Nature Reserve, with the wonderful sight on the salt pans, Mozia and the other small islands. And then there are the Egadi Islands, just in a different league: Favignana, Marettimo and Levanzo seem to dance among the perspective visions enjoyed by driving along the coast. In Marsala landed Garibaldi's Thousand and before that the Carthaginians (it was ancient Lilybaeum), the Romans, the Vandals, and the Arabs (to whom it owes its present name). In the 18th century the English also arrived - the notorious Joseph Woodhouse - to establish the history of Marsala's wine, which can't be separated from the names of some great families, such as the Ingham-Whitakers, the Florios, and the Pellegrino.

Marsala's Downtown

The center, within the perimeter of the medieval city, is developed around a main artery (now Via XI Maggio) that traces the ancient "càssaro" (from the Arabic al Qasr, fortified area) and connects Porta Nuova and Porta Mazara: here one strolls among stores, wine bars, churches and historic buildings.

Marsala's Ancient Market

Once arrived at Piazza del Popolo, there is the Ancient Fish Market, set back from the city walls. In the morning, huge tuna, sardines, swordfish, red shrimp and all that this wild stretch of the Mediterranean has to offer are settled on the stalls. If one arrives from the second entrance of Porta Garibaldi, climbing the stairs, one notices on the left a small friggitoria, the right place to taste bread and panelle freshly drained from boiling oil. For the past decade or so, in the evenings, the 16th-century building has been transformed into a busy meeting place, with pubs and winebars enlivening Marsala's movida.

Antico Mercato - p.zza Mercato, 1

The best restaurants in Marsala, plus some extra tips

La Pêche a Marsala

Big news for summer 2023 in town. The Francophone name comes from the eponymous bar à vin in Nice owned by Leo Spadaro, who teamed up with two well-known Marsala winemakers from the natural world, Nino Barraco and Vincenzo Angileri, to open this venue, overlooking a beautiful pedestrian plaza. Only Sicilian and French wines in the selection, accompanied by informal sicilian cuisine, in the hands of Irene Genna: ranging from arancina with spinach to caponata with almonds and chocolate, and without missing a fine selection of cheeses and cured meats.

La Pêche a Marsala - via S.Cammareri Scurti, 3


"Compose your busiate in three steps," recites the menu of Francesco Alagna and Anna Ruino's eatery, formerly known in town for the winebar Ciacco, which a few months ago became Ciacco Casa&Putia Home Restaurant, a country home in the Santa Venera district. In this downtown eatery, however, they are focused on transforming busiate, Trapani's most typical pasta shape, into street food: served in cardboard boxes, ready to take away to be enjoyed in the sunshine in some of Marsala's old town squares. The pasta comes in classic versions, with whole-wheat or gluten-free flour, and can be seasoned as desired by choosing among different "sauces," from classic Trapanese pesto to Sicilian mixed-meat ragout. Another location in downtown Palermo (Via Isidoro la Lumia, 29a).

Busiate - via S.Cammareri Scurti, 20 -

Assud - cibo da strada

Arancini are just the spearhead of the offerings of this city street food landmark. Ragù, Norma, swordfish and eggplant, mortadella and pistachios, speck and goat cheese, broccoli and caciocavallo, and squid ink are just a few of the best sellers that make up the vast assortment of golden timbales. To make the offerings even more appetizing, sandwiches stuffed with local produce, generous burgers and cartocci of panelle, fries, battered vegetables, shrimp, calamari rings and other dry and crispy fried foods. In the city (and in the region), other locations of the brand focused on pizza and traditional cuisine, all of which are worth visiting to make sure you don't miss a taste of Trapani's delicious rianata.

Assud - Cibo da strada - via Scipione L'Africano, 3 -

Antica Pasticceria De Gaetano

One enters this pastry bar and smells the scent of tradition, of the confectionery tradition of western Sicily, made up of ancient preparations, elsewhere rare. From the windows a triumpht of cassatelle, almond pastries, frutta martorana, cannoli, along with good breakfast pastries: from iris to variously filled croissants (must try the one with ricotta). Throughout the day the diner is churned out, for a snack or a quick lunch. The place gets crowded especially on Sundays, for aperitifs or to buy the typical tray of pastries to take home.

Antica Pasticceria De Gaetano - p.zza G.Mameli, 8 -

Lido Boeo

Capo Boeo is the westernmost point of Sicily, where the Tyrrhenian Sea joins the Sea of Sicily. We are a short walk from the Baglio Anselmi Archaeological Museum, in which you can admire the Punic ship, impressive remains of a vessel used in the First Punic War. For recreation with a dip or an aperitif by the sea, we go down to Lido Boeo, a small bathing establishment practically in town, not far from Porta Nuova.

Lido Boeo - L.mare Boeo, 3 

Le contrade

A nineteenth-century legacy of the city's predominantly agricultural and wine-growing economy, the contrade are an all-Marsala peculiarity, dealing with more or less large inhabited houses, scattered over a very wide territory, surrounding the historic and more recent urban center. In Contrada Fornara Samperi, for example, we find Marco De Bartoli's winery-which brought the modern revolution to the world of Marsala-just as in Contrada Ettore Infersa we meet a unique landscape represented by the salt pans, that change color during the day, the windmills, and the mountains of salt. In continuity with the landscape of the Stagnone, Contrada Spagnola is home to many seaside residences of the people of Marsala and the landing stage to Mozia.

Le Lumie

One goes up to Contrada Fontanelle to enjoy the combination of quality food and great views. The Russo family carries on a business with a refined accent, in an elegant building, adorned with Mediterranean flowers and plants, on one of Marsala's altitudes, from which you can enjoy an extraordinary sunset over the Egadi Islands. The young Emanuele Russo, in the kitchen, fine-tunes delicate local (and seafood) dishes, focusing over the years on signature dishes such as caponate (offered in seasonal variations, from pumpkin to bluefish) or "arancine di cuscus", and enhancing excellent products, starting with the raw (excellent red and purple shrimp seasoned with extra virgin oil, parsley and lemon). Classic desserts, from mulberry granita to millefeuille; cellar with many interesting choices.

Le Lumie - c.da Fontanelle, 178b -

Assud Mozia

The spot, which started in the center of Marsala and has also expanded with a location in Palermo, here, in a hyper-privileged position near the pier of Mozia and the Saline, is an excellent reference for enjoying pizza and traditional Trapani cuisine, in a rural atmosphere, with large rooms and outdoor tables in a lush garden. Menu items range from sea and land caponatas, and cous cous to elaborate pizzas made with traditional Sicilian grains. The welcome is very polite.

Assud Mozia - c.da Spagnola, 228 -

Al Molo

Going up the Stagnone again, towards Birgi Vecchi, one leaves the area most crowded with tourists to approach the one near kitesurfing schools. In a rarefied atmosphere and wild nature, rich in vegetation, birds and fish, you can take a walk in a transparent water that does not even reach your calves. Sunset, needless to say, is a very serious matter here. Around 6 p.m. you can enjoy the tranquility of twilight, notice a few fishermen or beauty-seekers sitting on the dock with a small chair or towel. To enjoy a drink sitting on the grass across the street while the sun puts on its unrepeatable daily show, the Al Molo stand offers a great landing.

Al Molo - c.da Birgi Vecchio

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