Sicilia worlds away from Italy

17 April 2015
Author  

Contrapposto sculptures, reminiscent of Michelangelo’s David, followed me with their gaze as I walked into Sicilia restaurant.

The waitress sat me at the back of the dimly lit, empty restaurant, giving me a view of the entire restaurant.

Ordinarily, I would have thought that this place was dingy, but the Italian sculptures and pillars gave it an air of sophistication.

With haste, the waitress brought the wine list and menu before she scattered off to assist a couple that had just walked in.

The pair sat down next to me, and their awkward engagement led me to believe that they were on their first date.

Only when the waitress came to take my drink order did I realise that I had been staring at the couple for five minutes, unapologetically.

I broke my gaze by ordering a bottle of merlot and resumed the staring contest with myself. I occasionally broke my gaze to look at a group of businessmen that were sitting at the other end of the restaurant in some kind of meeting.

I was feeling particularly hungry on this evening, so I ordered three dishes impenitently, and told myself that I could always doggy bag them if I didn’t finish.

First up was a warm dish of pasta. The portions were a level above generous, so I began to question my orders, but I soon learnt it was a wise decision.

The dish consisted of spaghetti, topped with bacon, garlic, tomato and onion sauce. If my mouth could sue both the restaurant and I for assault with intent to do grievous harm, it would have.

I had no quarrel with the pasta, because it was al dente.

The sauce on the other hand was awful, and the best way I could describe it is as if a smelly old shoe had accidently fell into the pot and spoiled the sauce. It had no seasoning and the heap of cheese I threw on top of it did nothing to add some sort of flavour.

It did not seem as though the ingredients were fresh, and if anything they tasted like they had come out of a can.

Although there were strips of meat in the sauce, I wasn’t too sure that it was bacon. Bacon is very strong and its flavour hard to mask, but not in this case.

After three bites from the pasta, I could no longer force myself to eat it and decided to cleanse my palette by gulping down a glass of wine.

My second dish was the California pizza for meat lovers with ham, bacon and chicken strips. It was by far the best dish of the evening, because it was so simple but managed to steal the show.

The pizza crust was thin and crunchy but not burnt. They were generous with all its toppings, but most especially the cheese. Trying to remove a single piece was a delightful challenge because the cheese became a delicious string.

Before I knew it, the plate was empty but my stomach still had a gaping hole in it that something needed to fill.

As is custom at the sight of delicious looking food, my inner child began to do somersaults at the sights of the ribs and chips.

Words cannot begin to explain how much I love pork ribs and chips, but it might take me a month to recover from the ones I had.

My guess is that the sauce was intended to be sweet and savoury, but it was just too sweet so much so that when I took a sip of my merlot, it began to taste bitter.

Ribs are usually marinated in their sauce before they are prepared so that the sauce infuses into the meat and eliminates that overwhelming pork taste, but that was not the case here. The flavour was just on the surface, and worst of all, the meat had too much fat on it.

I could no longer bear it, and could not risk desert. Feeling heartbroken I signalled to the waitress for the bill and to clear the rest of my meal that I could not dare eat anymore.

I have often thought that Italian cuisine was one of the best, but if this is anything to go by, that is not the case.

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