Dispensa is more than a restaurant. The setting, the high wooding ceiling and bare stone wall serves as a deli, wine shop and restaurant. They even embraced the present day urge of providing take-away. The name ‘Dispensa’ refers to bygone local shops offering a wide variety of products. Star chef and owner Giuseppe Costa of ‘Il Bavaglino’ in Terrasini serves and sells outstanding products. Local producers supply ‘Dispensa’ with bread (Ottavio Guccione), meat (Emanuele Cottone), pastry (Sciampagna, Cappello) and other.
The restaurant is exactly where you would expect it to be. In a rather young and lively neighborhood. Easy to reach from the city centre, a trifle difficult to park your car.
The menu features four main categories. The sandwiches, ‘pane cunzata‘, starters, pasta and meat. Not much of a surprise here: only the quality of the ingredients and the skill with which they are prepared sets the dishes apart from an average trattoria. It may all seem awfully straightforward, almost uncouth. No fancy plating, no barely comprehensible cooking techniques. Dishes such as Brocolli arriminati, pasta with anchovy (Pasta c’anciova) pane cunzato or stigghiola : none of them loses authenticity. As the matter of fact, they shed off the improper elements and lead you back to what the Sicilian kitchen is all about.
There is a wide and mature offer of mainly Sicilian wines. Again, the people at Dispensa choose smart over smug. They are advised by experts (Luigi Salvo !) and open to new realities. You may actually discover – and purchase -interesting wines. The staff know their wines and gladly advice you on matching. Take advantage.
The staff is surprisingly young. Most of them trained by chef Costa. Apart from the fundamental discipline and technique, he serves and explains his staff the food they will later propose to clients. It may seem superfluous at first, but if you hear how they transmit this knowledge passionately at your table, the chef’s reasoning becomes clear. The transparency of the place is accentuated by the view on kitchen through an enormous window. Seeing the chefs grilling meat on the special barbecue (GreenEgg) is a treat. You live that soothing feeling of people grilling without clouds of smoke coming your way. I can’t think of a better barbecue experience.
The ancient stone walls and high wooden ceiling guarantee an excellent acoustic. Even when the restaurant is packed, one may easily converse. The big glass window separating the kitchen from the dining room accentuates the transparency and openness of the restaurant. The acoustic is therefore marvelous. It adds to the cosiness of the restaurant. Tableware, the light, all has been carefully studied. The easygoing mood is created and accentuated by combining modern art with the historical features (the stone wall, the wooden ceiling). Wine bottles, the exposed meat from which to choose and the direct view on the kitchen remind you why you came: eating. And this is what some people seem to forget about: this is not a star restaurant, neither a restaurant to star in. This is a place where you come to eat.
We are not going to lie: you can eat similar food for a lower price. Most trattorias propose analogue dishes on their menu. The difference lays in the details. Freshness and excellency of the ingredients, the mood, the choice in wines. Add the fact that this place is run by a Michelin Star chef, and the bill won’t seem excessive.
As we mentioned earlier, ‘Dispensa’ is more than a restaurant-bistrot. As a deli it offers the finest products, carefully selected and approved by chef Costa. Ranging from conserves to raw ham and local cheeses, from wines to outstanding bread. The delicatessen shop opens and closes together with the restaurant and home delivery is possible.