Palermo's best seafood, according to the experts
From traditional trattorias to Michelin-recommended hotspots, check out our Experts’ Choice picks for the finest fish restaurants in the Sicilian capital.
Known for its colorful outdoor markets and super-fresh fish, Palermo is a fantastic city for seafood. Like the rest of the city’s eclectic cuisine, its fish dishes reflect layers of culinary influences from centuries of conquest - and the results are as surprising as they are delicious. If you’re wondering where to find the best seafood in town, visit our Experts’ Choice picks, which range from market stalls to old-school favorites to stylish restaurants featuring New Sicilian fare.
Best known for its pizza and its unimpeachable lasagne, Biondo is a casual spot that also offers regional specialties and a good fish selection. Grab a seat at one of the sidewalk tables and sample dishes like the Parmigiano Reggiano prawn salad and the fritto misto (fried fish platter).
An ultra-casual spot under a red-and-white-striped awning on backstreet in the Vucciria, Zia Pina is a family-run gem where Aunt Pina and her brothers serve up the freshest fish, cooked in what looks like an extension of their home kitchen, along with hearty antipasti. There’s no menu per se, and you choose your fish from the display up front. Don’t be put off by the no-nonsense service or the plastic chairs - what Zia Pina lacks in elegance, it makes up for in flavor.
Founded in 1951, this is one of Palermo’s oldest and most highly respected seafood restaurants, where locals come to feast on the impressive buffet before choosing their main courses at the fresh fish counter. Start with classics like spaghetti with sea urchin or casarecce pasta with swordfish and mint — when you move on to your main, order it roasted or grilled.
Across the street from the Teatro Politeama Garibaldi in central Palermo, this welcoming, Michelin-recommended restaurant offers an a la carte menu showcasing fresh fish and regional specialties made with high-quality ingredients. A family-run, 50-seat space with an excellent wine list including over 200 labels, they serve specialties like tagliolini with shrimp. zucchini flowers, and bottarga, fritti misti (fried seafood platters), and the raccolta del pescatore (fisherman’s harvest, i.e. the freshest fish of the day).
At this elegant restaurant near the city center, soft lighting, carved wooden ceilings, and dramatic sandstone arches set the stage for a modern seafood menu rooted in regional ingredients. Highlights include linguini with gambero rosso (the famed local red shrimp) and buffalo mozzarella, the gran crudo plate (with an array of the freshest raw fish), and tortino di patate e sepie (a luscious mini torte with potato and octopus). Reserve ahead.
‘Old town, creative cuisine,’ is the motto at L’Ottava Nota, a bright, trendy restaurant where chefs fuse traditional ingredients and regional techniques with innovative cooking methods. Seafood dishes are the main event here, including highlights like zuppa di ceci e pulpo (garbanzo bean and octopus soup) and baccaiola (with crushed potatoes, tomato, bread crumbs and cod).
Though it takes its name from its signature dish — tortellini in brodo (tortellini in beef broth) — this century-old (and counting) restaurant serves an impressive antipasto buffet along with fixed-price seafood menus that draw locals and tourists alike.
In the basement of a palazzo in the new town section of Palermo, this Michelin-recommended spot has walls full of contemporary artwork and a menu that features the most traditional seafood and pasta dishes of Sicily (often spruced up with a modern touch). Reserve ahead at dinnertime.
Located between the Vucciria and the Cala in the heart of Palermo, this modern restaurant caters to serious eaters with locavore leanings. Set menus change with the seasons and include all-seafood options as well as contemporary takes on traditional Sicilian classics. Reserve ahead.