Saturday night in Trapani


Since we arrived in Trapani, we’ve seen signs for Villa Martinez, but could never see the restaurant. Signs, like many in Sicily, measure the distance to the advertised place in minutes, not kilometers or yards. From all indications the place was within a hundred or so yards of our home base. Finally on our last day, we explored the side roads around our airbnb and found the restaurant, in a development of new homes, the kind of encroachment on the farmland our host vowed to resist. So tonight we returned to Villa Martinez for dinner.  And so glad we did.

Villa Martinez is clearly a neighborhood, but an upscale neighborhood, joint. And it is kind of strange. The restaurant sort of wraps around an outdoor swimming pool, which became  the hangout for smokers as the evening progressed. We were among the first three or four couples to arrive, quickly followed over the next hour by parties of young parents, kids in tow, and dozens of people of all ages heading to a banquet hall on the opposite of the pool from where we sat. Pretty sure we were the only non-Italians speakers there, and more strongly suspect we were the only tourists of any nationalities this place has seen.

And the food? Great plate of grilled vegetables. Great salad of tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. Nicely grilled meats and fried calamari. It all arrived at once. No courses. No pretensions. But as good as the food was, it was surpassed by being part of an Italian Saturday night dinner scene. Loud, raucous, filled with good cheer and very little drinking, mainly coke and beer. We ordered the only bottle of wine we saw on any table. But babies in strollers. Kids playing hide and seek under the tables. Two young guests had brought their dolls to dinner. At the big table men sat on one end & women at the other with the kids. And almost everyone but us had pizza.

The wait staff bent over backwards to get our order right and to make sure all was well, but like most of the wait staff in Sicily, they ran most of the night, from table to kitchen and kitchen to table.  The banquet also added to the hustle as trolley loads of pasta were rolled out of the kitchen at one end to the banquet room at the far side of the pool.

Guess the moral to the story is get out of the tourist parts of town. Find the neighborhood restaurants (harder to do in Sicily than some other places) and enjoy.

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