In Greek mythology, Kalliope is the goddess of music, song and dance. She is also the muse of epic poetry.
So, why would a restaurant in Sicily be named after a Greek goddess? There are a couple of good reasons. First, Homer’s Odyssey is said to have been inspired by Kalliope and much of his adventure supposedly took place in Sicily, including Aci Castello, where Cyclops lived.
Second, eastern Sicily (along with Puglia and other parts of southern Italy on the mainland) was part of the Greek empire starting in 8th century B.C.E. and was referred to as “Magna Grecia.” In fact, the Greek influence remains today in parts of Italy where the Griko people (descendants of the original Greek settlers) have kept their culture alive.
We’ve visited Trattioria Kalliope several times during our trips to Ortigia. Not only is the food delicious, but the atmosphere is fun and boisterous in a Sicilian sort of way.
The main reason we wanted to eat here in the first place was because I was searching for a certain kind of pizza only made in this part of Sicily. It’s called Pizzolo.
Pizzolo is a double-crust pizza. One crust on the bottom, just like every other pizza you’ve had, and a second crust on the top, kind of like a calzone. But, you’ll notice that the dough isn’t crimped at the edge, the top crust is just put over the top and baked. Also, check out the Parmesan cheese on the top. Usually, a pizzolo is made with local cheese and salami, but we got ours with cheese and arugula. I am here to tell you that it was fantastic!
Trattoria Kalliope also serves another of my all-time favorite things. Unlabeled house wine. Check out the bottle. No label, just a clear bottle filled with fermented deliciousness. As you can see, we enjoyed every last bite and sip of our meal. Truly memorable. So much so that when some friends visited us in Ortigia, it was one of the first places we took them. And on that visit, I almost was kicked out of the restaurant. Someday, I’ll tell that story.