I banchi: pane al pane

Ciccio Sultano, who has two Michelin stars for his Duomo restaurant at Ragusa Ibla, opened I Banchi – Pane al Pane in 2015, together with sous-chef and partner Giuseppe Cannistrà, in the 18th-century Palazzo Di Quattro.

Restored by Fabrizio Foti, who has conserved the old stone feeding troughs and enlivened the spaces with works by local artists – first of all, Giovanni Robustelli – as well as a large slate bearing a musical staff with tiny objects, thoughts and snapshots in place of the notes of the score.

The place seats 70 guests, mingling with the others who drift from other tables (including that of the chef). Open from 8.30 to midnight, I Banchi, the counters divided into theme areas, are a cross between a putia (store) for bread, a pastry shop, cafe and grocer’s (with products of the Ciccio Sultano brand: from Ragusa pecorino to Piacentinu cheese from Enna, handmade pasta to traditional bread and tomato sauce), a trattoria (tasting menu or a la carte, also with takeaway treats) and wine cellar, a place for breakfast, lunch, snacks, aperitifs and dinners.

In short, for years Ciccio wanted to do “something casual and smart” with respect to the prize-winning Duomo, offering cuisine that would be “erudite, happy, proud, but not gourmet, not in vogue” (from maialino in porchetta to spaghetti with butter and anchovies), something that gravitates around “olive oil, salt and wheat,” just like life.

An amiable gathering place where artisans, artists and professionals can meet to eat and drink, think and invent.

(Olivia Cremascoli – ph. By Alberto Ferrero)