Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Experience a Taste of la Dolce Villa

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Experience a Taste of la Dolce Villa

Article excerpt

Byline: Ian Walker

With an ocean breeze wafting off glistening turquoise waters, we spotted the London chef Giorgio Locatelli lunching at our beachside restaurant in Sicily. Tempting though it was to ask him what was good on the menu, we resisted the urge. It turned out that our shared sweet and sour fried fish starter had been concocted by an alchemist to create edible joy. Accompanied by a chilled Planeta 2009 Alastro and followed by swordfish for me and sole for my wife, I can think of no better meal I have had anywhere.

The owner of Vittorio A Mare, close to the seaside village of Porto Palo had a larger-than-life personality, sporting long grey locks and tanned skin, he was topless in the car park when we arrived. Later, holding court with friends in the restaurant, he asked whether we had enjoyed our meal. When we said it had been delicious, he beamed and rolled the word around his mouth as though he was savouring one of his desserts. We returned to our villa a short drive away, outside the town of Menfi.

The open-plan house has traditional terracotta tiled floors, large terraces and a stunning infinity pool (right) with outstanding views of the countryside and sea. Home-made sherbet cocktails containing Sicilian lemon juice had been thoughtfully left as part of the villa's welcome pack. There is also a home-cook service, which we sampled on our first evening and were left with enough food to feed us the next day. The cook, Luna, provided an array of fresh fish, including baby octopus in a piquant chilli and tomato sauce, pasta with baby clams and prawns and a fried white fish with an unpronounceable name on a bed of sauteed potatoes. There were also side dishes, an array of dessert pastries and fresh fruit. She left the kitchen spotless.

The only problem with Casa Alma was the difficulty in leaving it. However, Sicily is a hotbed of ancient Greek temples, and we felt duty bound to leave the pool and head for Selinunte, which some locals describe as "the romantic ruins". …

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