In Licata, the young people are anything but dying out.
They come, they go, they return, they reinvent themselves and they are never happy: the Premiata Sardasalata Pizzeria is proof of this. Giuseppe Patti, one of the two owners, have worked for years in TV and as a journalist, then opened the first literary café in Licata, and since 2014, has transformed the former railways building into one of the best pizzerias in Sicily.
It is for this reason that Sardasalata is the perfect place to learn the art of making pizzas and getting your hands dirty in the dough, because the lesson is anything but a trivial cooking class. The lesson starts by learning about the various ancient Sicilian grains (Perciasacchi, Tumminia, Senatore Cappelli, one soft and one hard), the same ones that you will learn to knead. Then, when choosing ingredients, everything is as Sicilian as possible. Starting with the grains, which, one day, Giuseppe would like to plant in the fields right around the pizzeria or on the railway tracks, where he already has a vegetable garden with aromatic herbs, including the Nebrodi’s Sicilian Black, Lampedusa sardinella or Caciocavallo Ragusa, the cheese that he prefers as its more local than mozzarella.
A piece of advice? Try the fuazza, the authentic Sicilian pizza that used to be made in home ovens with tomato, caviocavallo, salted sardines, garlic and oregano. But at Sardasalata, the pizza is not just tasty, but also beautiful. And so, the figure of the pizza styler is born, who will teach you how to look out for the aesthetic of your pizza as it comes out. Celiacs need not worry, as you can make your pizza without gluten, and there is a specific section of the pizzeria where they only make gluten-free dough.
And do you know what the beautiful thing is? That despite the renovation that is taking place, the atmosphere remains that of the railways building. Right here, the railway workers of Licata, like Giuseppe’s father and grandfather, go back there in their free time together with their families. The youngest play pin-ball machines, whilst the oldest play pool or cards in the various rooms, or read the paper. There was also a very smell library, but nobody ever realised! For Carnival, they would organise masked parties, as well as New Year’s parties, and for Epiphany, the Railway Befana, would arrive on a train right up until the building where it would come down full of gifts for all the children. Overall, it is a place with a strong social background, where they were fine, and together, because they all felt like they were a part of a big family. It is the same feeling that they still feel today.