If you ever find yourself on the island of Sicily, located south of the Italian mainland, you need to invest time to venture just a bit further south, to the small island of Ortigia, right off of the main island of Sicily. Ortigia is known as the historic center of Sicily. It has a very quaint, old-town feel as you walk and gaze at its many features. Like any traveler, you are bound to get hungry as you wander around the island. As we’ve discussed in previous posts, it can sometimes be difficult to know which restaurants and other dining options are the good ones. Many places that offer food have potential for being tourist traps; they pretend to be serving food authentic to the region you are in, but they really overcharge you for food that ends up being subpar. To avoid that, I would like to recommend an excellent dining option in Ortigia: Caseificio Borderi, a small but feisty stall-like restaurant that specializes in dairy (mainly cheeses of many kinds) and jam-packed sandwiches.
Caseificio Borderi has been open since 1930, first specializing and focusing on Sicilian Extra Virgin Olive Oil and then moving to their current focus: cheeses. This shop has expanded their cheese offerings into many different kinds, including ricotta, multiple types of mozzarella, and multiple types of provolone. They pride themselves in offering handmade/homemade products that highlight the difference between homemade and largely processed, rushed food and ingredients.
Caseificio Borderi is located where the historic Ortigia Market takes place, near the northern tip of the island of Ortigia. This market offers a plethora of choices in food and vendors, from fresh fish and meats, to fruits and vegetables, to freshly squeezed orange juice being sold by a woman who dances and dresses like an orange. Caseificio Borderi is no exception to the unique and delicious offerings of this market. If you happen to visit the shop near lunchtime, be ready to wait. The line often extends out from the storefront and twists around the neighboring market stalls. However, the wait is most definitely worth it.
The long, probably foot-length sandwiches the restaurant offers are the option I would recommend. While everything they offered looked delicious and filling, the group I was with asked the man behind the counter to make us whatever he recommends. Each of the five of us ended up with foot-long sandwiches, comprising of freshly baked bread chock full of delicious ingredients: multiple types of cheeses, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, and some kind of meat. Needless to say, as we watched the cook slowly take his time as he prepared the sandwich, our mouths watered and we were not concerned with knowing every single ingredient. All we knew was that the entire ensemble looked irresistible and we could not wait to get our hands on it.