Friday 23 August 2013

Al Buco, Coso Vittoria Emanuele, Noto, Sicily

Housed in a fine Baroque palazzo and with tables laid out on the flagstones opposite the steps leading up to the elegant Chiesa di San Franceso, Al Buco is in an enviable setting. Although the host is helpful and the service is well-drilled, your order can take a while as tourists quickly fill up the 20 or so tables, covered with crisp white tablecloths. If you have kids, aim to get there by 8pm. Be sure to order one of the decent pasta dishes priced at about eight euros. The thin tubular pasta in a thick pesto sauce has a really rich, satisfying flavour, but the portion is on the small side. The penne pasta with prawns is also excellent. The mixed meat grill (10 euros) contains decent veal steak, a respectable pork chop and fennel sausage, while the mixed fish grill (15 euros) includes three precisely-cooked king prawns, some slightly bland swordfish and juicy squid. If the baked lamb is off, the rabbit casserole (10 euros) is a pretty tasty substitute. The cover charge of two euros a head includes plenty of bread, so you won't need a plate of what can be slightly soggy potatoes (three euros). A half-litre carafe of reasonable house white wine costs just four euros. The rare combination of a superb setting and good cooking makes Al Buco a great trattoria to soak up Sicilian history, while sampling the island's cuisine. 8/10

A long-standing restaurant, Al Buco serves a good selection of dishes from a grand palazzo