Palermo – Mondello – Bye Bye Blues – the best restaurant in town

I decided to return to Mondello after a twelve year gap, to celebrate my 55th birthday in September 2021. It was pretty much a perfect day for me beginning with a morning run along the waterfront with the beautiful bay on one side and lots of lovely Stile Liberty architecture on the other. I spent the day getting a light grilling on the beach, reading a great book and having a few swims in the crystal clear water. I only had a few light snacks and beers in the afternoon to save my appetite for the main event; eight courses and six wines in this great restaurant…

Bye Bye Blues (Advanced A), 23 Via del Garofalo, www.byebyeblues.it

I first came to Bye Bye Blues back in 2009 (review at the bottom of this post) and loved it so much I knew I had to come back one day. Since my last visit it had gained a Michelin star but had lost it the year before, apparently for fiddling the electricity meter during the pandemic! Thankfully it hadn’t affected the quality of the food…

To start, a welcome glass of prosecco…

… and some wonderful bread accompanied by great salt from Marsala and fantastic olive oil from Trapani.

The Lorenzo olive oil was the best I had on the trip (A+). I searched for it in vain in every quality deli in Palermo before happily finally finding it at the airport just before I got on the plane.

Next, some amuse bouches of indeterminate provenance…

…with the first of four excellent local wines. The Grillo in the last pic was my most favourite.

The proceedings proper began with Ricciola Marinata Leggermente Affumicata, Brodetto Tiepido, Giardiniera e Agrumi (lightly smoked marinated amberjack, in a tepid broth with citrus, gardener style, ie with carrot and baby red chard).

Tartare di Manzo, Cetriolo, Anguria e Yogurt (beef tartare with cucumber, watermelon and yogurt).

Spaghettini Tiepidi, Aglio, Olio, Peperoncino e Molluschi (lukewarm spaghettini, with garlic, oil, chilli flakes and molluscs).

Gnocchetti di Grani Siciliani, Carne Affumicata, Zucchine a Scapece e Zafferano (homemade gnocchetti made with Sicilian grains, with smoked ‘meat’ (duck?) courgette in escabeche with saffron. This was one of my favourite courses.

Then Trancio di Pesce, Pistacchi e Lattuga Marinata (sliced white fish with pistachio and marinated lettuce).

Loved the Scottata di Manzo (seared beef steak) too.

This came with Cipolla Farcita (stuffed onion )

Don’t actually recall the dessert as I was by this time in deep conversation with my neighbours, a German rock band also celebrating a birthday.

I do remember having Ben Rye, my favourite Sicilian passito, with it though. It had been my intention to visit their vineyard on the island of Pantelleria on this trip but it proved a step too far in the end. Definitely next time though.

After this, a local amaro, new for me.

And a shot of one of the strongest rums I’ve ever tasted. Unnecessary but it sent me rolling home!

All in all, a perfect birthday meal, made extra special by the fantastic staff and lovely neighbouring tables.

And from 2009…

This Michelin recommended, backstreet place is on another level, one of the best seafood restaurants I have ever been to, with great staff and fantastic food. The waiters were actually running around when it got busy. The kitchen was also a frenetic hive of activity, with the happenings on the pass being broadcasted via CCTV onto a screen in the dining room, which made for fascinating foodie viewing as you watched the dishes being assembled.

I felt obliged to go for the €50 Menu Degustazione (although many cheaper options are available) and a €15 bottle of the wonderful Leone IGT (Tasca d’Almerita ’08, a very famous brand). After an amuse bouche of cheese in a Trapani sauce and a goblet of vegtable soup, followed by two mini Sfincione, the Misto de Pesce Crudo arrived, consisting of raw seabass, yellowtail tuna and red prawns (B), which surprised me until I found out the head chef is Japanese. I was advised to put some Tenuta Rocchetta olive oil on it (one of the best Sicilian brands). Next came the Mosaico di Antipasti Siciliana (A/B) which included a sublime octopus in gazpacho (top combo), sardines in escabeche, and two other concoctions with bluefish and tuna. After that came the Spaghetti a la Ricci (sea urchins) (A) which I have never really appreciated in the past till I came here. The following dish was also pasta, Tagliatelle con Uova di Tonno (B) which I preferred to bottarga (dried tuna eggs as opposed to fresh in this case). The ‘secondo’ was Trancio di Tonno su Cipollata con Schima di Zabione e Salsa di Marsala (A), large flakes of tuna steak with sweet onions and egg in a marsala sauce, all nice individually but incredible when combined on the fork.

Trancio di Tonno su Cipollata con Schima di Zabione e Salsa di Marsala

The dessert was Semifreddo di Ricotta con Salsa di Arance Amare (A), a sponge with the same cream filling as cannoli, washed down with an excellent Passito di Pantelleria (Bukkuram ’05, again “one of the best”). After all that, I could only manage a couple of the lovely complementary mini biscuits.

Semifreddo di Ricotta con Salsa di Arance Amare

Total cost €76, but worth every cent. Go on treat yourself!

You’ll find Bye Bye Blues on my map of Mondello.

Cafes and gelaterias next…

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