Friday, July 1, 2005

Enzo and his Hot Love Liqueur

The tragedy of the best trattoria owner in the Sicilian resort town of Taormina

U Bossu, a great trattoria at Via Bagnoli Croci 50 (Tel. 0942-23-311) in Taormina, Sicily, ItalyU Bossu, a great trattoria at Via Bagnoli Croci 50 (Tel. 0942-23-311) in Taormina, Sicily, Italy. In 1998, I had a fantastic dinner at U Bossu, and accordingly gave this seven-table restaurant on a forgotten Taormina side-street a star rating in the Frommer's guide I was researching at the time.

The proprietor, Enzo Alberelli, was gregarious, friendly, jocular, and overall a genuine impresario for his little trattoria—and the food was excellent, especially for a moderately cheap joint.

At the end of that meal, he poured me (and everyone else in the place) a shot of a fiery pepperoncino liqueur of his own invention—on the house, he insisted. I love spicy things, and I love sugar, and Enzo's homemade hooch was a perfect marriage of the two tastes. Also, it packed an alcoholic wallop.

So I left with nice, warm feelings about Enzo and his little trattoria tucked away from the crush of Taormina tourists. These sorts of overcrowded resort towns are plagued by a surfeit of perfectly passable but uninspired eatiers (along with, usually, one or two excellent but overreaching restaurants where the chefs garnish their dishes with Michelin stars, the tables are booked by celebrities and riche gourmands, and the appetizers along cost more than a full meal elsewhere in town).

That's why I'm doubly happy to find just a good, hard-working, local joint like U Bossu that I can look forward to returning to on future research trips.

Seven years later...

Fast forward to last night. For years, Frommer's had been hiring other people to update my coverage of Rome and the south in their Italy book while I rewrote and updated the Central and Northern Italy material. I hadn't been back to Taormina since.