What comes to mind when talking about revolution? The violent, turbulent period in which the old is torn down. Unhappiness translating the urge to transform, to change. Little attention goes toward the slow process proceeding. No spotlights for the people and territory preparing the final act, or what is conceived as such. Because a revolution starts in the head and mentality of the few and is slowly but steadily transmitted. The heart and soul of the revolution prefers obtaining results more than basking in glory. How this relates to Sampolo 246?
‘The heart and soul of the revolution’ is the perfect title for the history of Bar Sampolo. A young couple, Salvatore Gambino and his wife Maria, decided to open a bar. In this bar, not far from the city centre they worked hard, side by side. When Salvatore was offered the position as barman he reluctantly accepted. Mainly because it was the Grand Hotel Villa Egea offering the job, the top hotel by excellence.
Built to the plans of Ernesto Basile, the famous art nouveau architect, Villa Igea is a pearl. The beauty and elegance attracted people from all over the world. By the side of the swimming pool you’d see stars as Greta Garbo and Aristoteles Onassis. Luxury yachts bobbed in the private harbor and the dinners were social events. Sicily was no longer the centre of the Mediterranean but haven for the international jet set on holiday. Prince Ranieri of Monaco and his wife Grace Kelly, Paul Newman, Sophia Loren, Kirk Douglas, they were all regulars. La dolce vita.
Back to the bar
When Salvatore Gambino left his position, he fully concentrated on the bar his lovely wife had been running. During the years working as a barman he picked up new ideas, and moved them to the bar. Working for a demanding public he learned to pay attention to the details. And working Sicilian pastry – sweet and savory – he added that pinch of attention, distinguishing his products from others.
Sampolo second generation
The boys grew up and both showed great interest in working in the food business. The elder, Enrico, as chef and sommelier, Carmelo in administration. In 1983 they won the Mostra del Gelato contest with their artisanal coffee ice cream. Successes followed up and no year went by without being awarded. The will to invent and change reigned and within long a second revolution took place.
Enrico brought his passion for French Champagne to the bar. Steadily working on his collection he caught the attention of the press. Soon the bar became know as “Bar della Champagna”. With over 60 label they are by far the most important player, a paradise for aficionados.
The Gambino brothers revisted traditional sweets, something very few dare to to. The philosophy of innovating, improving and enriching was stronger than riskless following the stream. The Gambino brothers took the emblematic Sicilian cassata, plucked up courage, and changed it. A chocolate egg became the container for a delicious ricotta based cream delicately topped op with pistachio.
aNext to draw the attention of Sampolo was street food. Ubiquitous and revered in Palermo, street food hardly ever altered. It took courage to revisit but the result was a success. The “arancina” was lifted up to a new level, to a dish. Carefully replacing ingredients with locally produced ones was the first step. Genuine cheeses from the Madonia mountains replaced the often used industrial ones. They paid attention to the details,a treat Salvatore transmitted to his sons. The arancina Gourmet was an immediately success, by the general public as well as by food critics. For three consecutive years the arancina gourmet was elected as best arancina of Palermo and province.
Spurred by this success and willingness to improve, Sampolo246 replaced bar Sampolo. A new reality took form, where innovation and excellency stand central. Experience and vision, attention to the material make this a unique reality. While Salvatore and Maria often come over for breakfast, the third generation is stepping in. Alessandro, Federica, Sofia and Costanza surly will continue the revolution. The future is bright at Sampolo 246
5 things to try
- breakfast with cappuccino and home made cornetto
- have a morning break with fresh made rosticceria and an orange juice
- sit down for lunch. The daily changing menu offers fresh and seasonal dishes
- an ice cream in the summer, mouthwatering pastry in winter
- have an aperitif with a wide variety of cocktails and champagne wines