Jonico by the Eye Onion Sea

3 Jun

We went to a restaurant called “Jonico a Rutta e Ciauli.”  It looks out on the Ionian Sea (or the Eye Onion Sea as our Italian sea guide pronounced it in his charming English.)  We went for the midday meal on a gloriously sunny day.

Jonico-a Rutta e Ciauli

We arrived at 12:30 and were the only party there. Hmmm…I think they knew we were Americani. About one o’clock (or 13:00) a French couple arrived then a German couple, then, finally, an Italian couple. Saved from our faux pas…we ordered.

We began with a seafood antipasto. You cannot dine in Siracusa or the whole coast of Sicily without eating seafood and more seafood. But oh what meals.

Four small plates held l’augustine (crayfish), tuna, sardines and some lovely fillets of small fish with silvery pink skin we did not recognize.

Seafood antipasto

Each selection was seasoned perfectly with spices and lemon. There was no “fishy” taste and the aroma from the plate was lovely.

We followed the antipasto with a pasta course. I ordered tuna, with tomatoes and capers.  “Deelish” as my friend Mary Fuller would say.

Dana ordered spaghetti with sea urchins. Sea urchins come in a variety of colors in the ocean…light green, olive, blue, purple, black, brown and red.

Spaghetti with sea urchin

On land all turn a dark brown to black. The urchin must be opened by hand to be harvested. Opening the shell reveals the gonads which is what you eat. Dana said they tasted fine but the texture was “custardy.” He would probably not order it again.

We watched men harvest the urchins in the open market on Saturday. They had little dixie cups to gather the tiny  orangey organs four to five to an urchin. Each was about the size of a lima bean.

Shucking sea urchins in the market. “No, no picture unless you buy.”

It takes them forever to fill up the cup.  Because they must be hand opened and the result is so small in quantity, they are considered a delicacy.

Dessert was a marvelous slice of ricotta pie with an amaretto soaked crust, chocolate drizzled over the top and sprinkled with pistachios. It was so good we forgot to take a picture of it.

2 Responses to “Jonico by the Eye Onion Sea”

  1. Maryl June 16, 2012 at 2:38 pm #

    The food looks (and presumably tastes) delicious. Love the pix of the vendor. Did you end up buying a cup of sea urchin organs (yum?) and are they eaten raw from the cup or do you take home and cook?

    • jill54321 June 16, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

      That picture really makes me laugh. Dana did have cooked sea urchin in his spaghetti with tomato sauce but nooooooooo haven’t had them raw.

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