Italy Food Diary: Il Braciere del Viale, Catania, Sicily

So, here’s a funny foodie story. I love the New York Times and the New Yorker. It’s partly a long-held fantasy about living in such a big city with so much culture, food and intelligence, even though when I spent a month there in 2017, I loved it but thought that I wouldn’t be able to live there much longer.

In any case, I found an article by Lucas Peterson, the ‘Frugal Traveller’ about Catania in Sicily, a city that I knew we’d pass through. I dutifully copied down information, and there were two restaurants he mentioned that sounded local, inexpensive and yummy. The first one, Il Principe, closer to the old city where we were parked, was closed that day, a Monday, though Google Maps had said it was open (my saviour and my curse: so good for getting oneself unlost, but I find their opening hours and days are not very accurate).

So, we decided to drive to the other recommended restaurant, Pausa Pranzo. It wasn’t too difficult to follow the directions from Google, and we arrived at a casual lunch counter, with a busy local lunchtime trade, and lots of trays of food behind a glass counter. You ordered what you wanted, they microwave it up, and there you go. There was also some impressive chicken rotisserie going on. It was interesting to see what the locals are eating for a cheap lunch, a bit greasy and not wonderful, but not terrible. A fun little adventure. I have the feeling if I knew better what to order and we could have ordered half-portions (so we could try more plates), this might have been more than OK, even wonderful.

A week or two later, I’m trying to find a listing of it to do a review on TripAdvisor, as my preferred review site, Zomato, only has listings in Rome and not the rest of Italy. I do a search for it on TripAdvisor and can’t find it. I do some Google searches. I do a Facebook search. I enter their address into Google. What I discover: Pausa Pranzo simply means lunch break. It IS the name of a restaurant in Catania, and I’m not sure why Google didn’t let me know that, as we didn’t manage to go there.

Where we did go is called by the owners a gastropub, Il Braciere del Viale, and the prominent words on the canopy that say ‘Gastronomia’ and ‘Pausa Pranzo’ simply means a delicatessen that you should visit for your lunch break. The actual name is below the canopy, ‘Il Braciere del Viale’, though it says prominently below that ‘D & D’. Google maps lists it as Pausa Pranzo Gastronomia D&D, which is why we got sent there when I was looking for Pausa Pranzo. And both Facebook and TripAdvisor have listings for a deli that was previously there, Sicilian Gastronomy La Martina, even though someone tried to tell TripAdvisor in 2016 that the business had been taken over by others. The new owner can be found on Facebook though hasn’t figured out how to set up a business page; it appears instead as an ‘unofficial page’ with postings from a personal account with their business name. Oh well. I wrote to them with some advice for how they might fix this… and hopefully Google Translate will do a better job translating my advice for them than Google Maps did in directing us to Pauso Pranzo.

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