Published on December 6th, 2011 | by ladyparker0
Review: A Star in Sicily: Bye Bye Blues (Sicily, IT)
Summary: This is no tourist trap, but a one star Michelin restaurant on the outskirts of Palermo, Sicily. Authentic Italian dishes and a great wine list to boot.
Authentic, modern Italian
You’ll be well and truly over your blues by the time you leave this restaurant – it’s the panacea for all melancholy. Its promise of any remedial experience required is signaled by its entrance… an ascetic satin-finish wall that camouflages a door. It whispers an assurance of gustatory recalibration if you are to step inside. It’s also soul-fulfilling because it lies in the thick of Palermo in Sicily – Mondello to be precise. The 25,706 square kilometre island is a wholesome culture shock if you are accustomed to the city centres of the North.
Bye Bye Blues is a haven from the bedraggled nature of the Sicilian city streets. It touts a Michelin-star with a slightly diffident manner – their recent modernizing renovations and new image a potential reason for this. It’s very contemporary – clean and simple without being clinical. It has the Italian variant of good Feng Shui. There’s a healthy indoor foliage feature, dark wooden floorboards in a small but space defying area and a plasma TV screen with a live view into the humming kitchen. For an island where technology is Flintstonic, this restaurant is a veritable juxtaposition against the benighted milieu.
Press the discrete buzzer to be greeted by co-owner and chef Patrizia Di Benedetto (assuming you have a table reservation) and be guided down a corridor lined by young and professional staff, who each receive you as you pass.
The degustation menu is my ideal way to appraise a fine-dining restaurant’s merits – the spirit of the restaurant, personality and creativity of the chef and aptitude of the kitchen and wait staff is exposed for optimum consideration and enjoyment. You can also get a pretty good idea about the symbiotic relationship between chef/kitchen and sommelier. The overall feel of the wine list should resonate with the deg menu (and a la carte for that matter) and whether they harmonize is a critical aspect. Bye Bye Blues offers a single but well-delivered deg menu, and I can find plenty of tempting wines on the extensive, world-spanning list. Over 350 Italian and international wines are available from the restaurant cellar – I cannot stray from the home nation however, and we select an outstanding Robert Voerizo Langhe Barolo 2000 to enjoy.
Authentic Italian and Sicilian dishes are abound on the menu – think lots of seafood, almond based pasta sauces, with the slightest trace of historical Arabic / North African influence, (couscous is a staple speciality here)! Standout dishes included handmade open ravioli with the freshest of tomato sauces, delicate juicy shrimp caressed with a just-made salsa verde, and an assemblage of seafood tastes – sardines, courgette / scampi, and a stuffed quails egg with balsamic reduction and red peppercorns, all complementing each other beautifully.
One in our party commented “these guys must surely be searching for a star” – accounting for the funky, contemporary layout, slightly jittery yet innately efficient staff and Italian food searching for aesthetic zeniths – channelling the best globally. It was not until afterward that we did indeed realise the establishment had been operating for 20 years, had a Michelin star and was clearly destinational.
I’m told there are many exceptional, Michelin chasing restaurants throughout Sicily (though mainly situated on the western side), it is an encouraging thing as somewhere as beautiful as Sicily is somewhat of an enigma with its societal misgivings and lack of infrastructure. It’s also evident these culinary trailblazers are not just for the tourist trade, they’re respected and supported by the Sicilian community.
Normally an English name such as this in Sicily this would raise questions, as it did for me. It conjures up an image of tourist-trap, karaoke dive or a restaurant you would at least hesitate to eat in. It’s hugely contrasting from these impressions – and in fact is an excellent modern dining experience with all the genuine traditional Italian, Sicilian favourites. A superb broad-range wine list, attentive staff, domineering, driven owners who are passionate about good food made with seasonal, local ingredients and exciting wines – all these elements make for a sanguine affair.