On my recent trip to Sicily, I was determined to visit Santa Ninfa and Partanna where my grandparents were born. At the last minute, the agriturismo we had booked in Santa Ninfa cancelled our reservations (they were having serious mechanical problems) so we decided to stay in Sciacca, a small fishing village that was a reasonable driving distance south on the Mediterranean coast.
On the first day, we wandered down to the “scenic” waterfront and came across Bar Roma. It was an unassuming place, just a small archway on a short block in an industrial area. We peeked in and were greeted by Zio Aurelio, a very lively character who seemed eager for conversation and proud of the recognition his granita has received: Facebook, TripAdvisor, the Michelin Guide! I always crave this Sicilian treat — tart, smooth, creamy. Who could resist?
We stayed and ordered the lemon granita, which was wonderful, but were caught short when he offered us the brioche that he said usually accompanies it. Lemon ice on a roll? What?? I was quite surprised to hear of this combination. It was my third trip to Sicily and I hadn’t seen (or noticed) it before. My Sicilian family, who were from this part of the island, never served it or spoke of it.
Unfortunately, my grandparents are all gone so I cannot ask them about it. We signed his guestbook, which dated back to 1950, and thanked him profusely for his friendly hospitality.
On my return, thanks to the wonderful scope of the Internet, I found many references to both Bar Roma and this local treat. It seems that it commonly served for breakfast on hot days and often with gelato, as discussed on Granita and Brioche for Breakfast. Discovery is one of the delights of travel!
And, here is a video of Signor Aurelio himself explaining his process. Enjoy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZA0GecMqsw