Buatta Cucina Popolana: where to live and taste the history of Palermo

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The restaurant promotes the rich food and wine of Palermo in a location with a historical flavor

A millenary history well carved in the city’s architecture.  Here many peoples have followed one another over the centuries, giving Palermo an artistic heritage that is unique in the world.
Cathedrals, palaces, monuments, however, are not the only wealth on which the Sicilian capital can count;  another essential aspect to explore in order to know the city is undoubtedly the gastronomic culture.
The custodians of this ancient local culinary tradition are Franco Virga and Stefania Milano, owners of Buatta Cucina Popolana, in Via Vittorio Emanuele, in the historic center.
“Buatta – Franco Virga explains – was born 5 years ago from the need to turn to the market by offering typical popular cuisine.  We realized the possibility of having with us the starred chef Fabio Cardilio, capable of interpreting the local cuisine in harmony with our philosophy, which provides fresh, typical and high quality raw materials.  From fish products that arrive daily from fishing boats, to fruit and vegetables: all products are the result of research that has allowed us to be counted among the Bib Gourmand bars
in the 2020 Michelin Guide ”.

“One of our musts is pasta with sardines – continues Stefania Milano – which is prepared daily with fresh sardines.  Ours is a real kitchen
which varies according to the raw materials that we are able to find every day “.

Another strong point of Buatta is certainly the location with a historical flavor which, as Stefania Milano points out, was born in the early 1900s as a luggage shop: “We decided to keep the furniture, columns, signs and flooring of the time, then going to  add an open kitchen and a beautiful social table made of marble;  more than a restructuring we have carried out a restoration ”.
Being a perfect representation of the Art Nouveau style, the restaurant manages to attract French customers with particular effectiveness.  “We are very happy that even the people of Palermo particularly appreciate our cuisine and come to the place to taste historical dishes of the city that are no longer replicated at home, especially for lack of time”.

In addition to the maniacal care for the gastronomic part, however, there is no lack of great attention and research even for wine products.  “A particular care – Franco Virga intervenes – can also be found in our cellar, where out of about 120 labels, about ninety are of natural wine mainly of Sicilian origin.  This is linked to our philosophy of not having high price increases on the bottle, but always offering excellent wine products at a cheap price.  In addition, our sommelier is passionate about natural wines and is able to speak 5 different languages, a peculiarity that today can make a difference “.

Behind the stove, as already anticipated by Franco Virga, we find Fabio Cardilio, a Roman chef with an important background who seems to have found a second home in Trinacria.  The chef, who has been in Sicily for decades, personally takes care of all the preparations: “In Buatta you can find authentic, traditional cuisine made of pasta with sardines, sfincione with caciocavallo, sardines a beccafico.  In addition, I decided to include some dishes with the famous fifth quarter, then spleen, lung, liver, kidney.  In winter, a dish that I have been carrying with me for many years is a must: pasta with spleen, very light ravioli stuffed with ricotta and caciocavallo seasoned with spleen and lightened by lemon and orange zest “, says chef Cardillo  .

When asked which dish to recommend to a tourist who for the first time would like to approach Sicilian gastronomy, chef Cardilio has no doubts: “Absolutely pasta with sardines, it seems banal but it is so;  my pasta with sardines is not soaked in tomato, but I love to use saffron, fennel and above all a good sardine, which you can see and feel on the plate “.

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