It was mid August the first time I eyed this little place in front of Sant’Orsola Hospital, just outside Porta San Vitale. I promised myself to go as soon as I came back from my holiday but since it’s so close to where I live I kept postponing. Back then they were still in the process of opening but graciously explained to me that that peculiar name simply meant what it suggested: Sicilyn is a fusion restaurant blending Sicily and Japan.
Now, for those of you about to scream “Fusion? That’s so late Nineties!”,
go visit a fashion blog bear in mind that Bologna, despite being city of food and temple of fresh pasta, isn’t as strong in the international flavours as it is in the traditional culinary sector. The word “fusion” here mostly means big impersonal suburban places with huge menus and so-called “asian” noodles. In particular, there is clear scarcity (with few notable exceptions but also a couple of overpriced and overvalued destinations) of good Japanese food. So much so that when I moved back from Milan, where the standard is high and sashimi has been the traditional meal for generations of models fist and locals later, I simply stopped eating sushi after some disappointing tentatives.
But Sicilyn looked promising and finally, months after it opened and started creating some buzz around itself, I finally managed to go try it. And again. And again. So I found out that this little, homey, minimal looking place is owned by a couple, Daniele from Sicily and his sweetheart Noriko, from Japan. Daniele is a journalist and filmmaker (together with Mauro Maugeri he made the short A Lu Cielu Chianau that received special recognition from Venice Film Festival’s competition I LOVE G.A.I. ), as well as a self proclaimed foodie with one particular kink: he loves to mix fish and cheese. Noriko is the chef and she also used to run a blog in Japanese about Sicilian culinary art. Until they moved here from Acireale and launched this place, where pistachio and bottarga make love with uramaki e soy sauce.
I like places where the menu is short and the selection concise, especially when most of the food on offer is expressly made. From the hands of Noriko I thus tried salmon gunkan (with soft, delicious fresh salmon, minced onion and radish), sushi with basil pesto, radish and salmon, and with Mazara del Vallo’s shrimps, parsley and capers’ sauce, while my friend had the bagel. Yes, bagel. I said “fusion” may I remind you. And I also said that Daniele has this fetish for fish&cheese. So, if the japanese section is Noriko’s realm, the little bagels’ corner is all by Daniele, and here we can find a couple of interesting combos, in addition to the classical salmon + cream cheese (here enriched by pistachios): anchovies + primosale cheese + olives + minced onion, or buffalo mozzarella + parmesan + shrimps + almonds + rocket sauce + dried tomatoes.
Back to Noriko’s art, there’s still more I’d like to try, such as her very kawai, smiling onigiri (with sesame seeds, tuna and mayo, or with salmon, sesame seeds and mayo), and the tartara with Mazara del Vallo’s shrimps, avocado, cream cheese, pistachio, radish and rocket salad. And if you don’t want to leave the comfort of the old town (Sicilyn is some 100 meters from Porta San Vitale, but as a victim of Old Town Centricity Syndrome I know distances can appear bigger when the force is centrifugal), you can also order a home delivery through Sgnam from January.