Arancini are originally from Sicily, so of course, the best arancini I’ve ever had were in Palermo.
These savory fried rice balls are made everywhere in Italy, but from personal experience, they aren’t very good unless they come from the homeland. Elsewhere, they are always too dry, lacking flavor, or the rice-to-other-ingredients ratio is terrible. My favorite are the arancini al ragù (rice, tomato sauce with minced meat, peas, onions, and mozzarella), but they can be filled with a variety of ingredients like ham, mushrooms, and spinach.
Begging our Sicilian friend for a taste of real arancini, he drove us to this hole in the wall, which unbeknownst to us, was well-known for what the locals call the “Arancina Bomba.” Yes – the arancino bomb. These giant fried explosives were sitting behind the glass counter ready to be detonated. We loaded our car with them, and headed to the beach in Cefalù (a 1-hour drive from Palermo) where we had to first hike down a dirt hill under the blazing July sun, carrying all of our arancini, beach bags, and umbrellas, before reaching the warm clear water (only locals know of these bizarrely hidden places).
We laid our towels down on the sand and started gobbling down the arancini. I picked up a heavy ragu’ one, which I could have used for weight lifting, and chomped down. The outside, coated with fried breadcrumbs, was soft yet crunchy, and the inside was absolutely brimming with hot, gooey meat sauce and rice. When I say this arancino was FULL, I mean it was exploding with meat and cheese. What you’ll usually find in other parts of Italy, are arancini stuffed with a bunch of rice with a tiny bit of meat in the center. Not in Sicily. Definitely not. In Sicilian they don’t even call them arancini, they call them arancine (feminine version), which means absolutely nothing to anyone who doesn’t study Italian, but I thought it was interesting. 🙂
For the famous arancina bomba, this is where we went:
Via Lincoln, 15, 90133 Palermo