Pasta con le Sarde
Spaghetti with fresh sardines, fennel, breadcrumbs, pine nuts and raisins. A classic Sicilian pasta dish. You won't find this at too many restaurants in New York, but Joe's of Avenue U, in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn, does an excellent version. It's well worth the trip, and quite convenient by subway, as Joe's is right near the Avenue U stop on the F train, at 287 Avenue U, near McDonald Avenue.
Joe's is only the third restaurant where I've tried this dish. The first time I had it was at the now-defunct La Focacceria, in the East Village. Then I tried it at a humble trattoria in Palermo. I think the version at Joe's was the best among the three.
Most of the food I ate in Sicily was fabulous, especially seafood, especially swordfish and tuna. Sicilian food is, in general, much less rich than Northern Italian cuisine. For an analogy, one could say that Sicily is to Bologna as Provence is to Lyon.
Before I visited Sicily and Southern Italy, the furthest south I had been was Rome. Every time I went to Italy it struck me that the people didn't look much like Italians in New York, whose families tended to come from places like Calabria, Puglia, Campania and Sicily. So finally, when I got to Sicily I saw lots of what I've always thought of as Italian faces and skin coloring. One day I was at a cafe in Taormina, and two guys who I assumed were locals were sitting at a table next to mine. Then one of them spoke. It was not Italian, it was not Sicilian dialect. It was pure Brooklynese. "I got plenty a Vinny stories. Everybody in da neighborhood got a Vinny story."