This story begins in 1834 when Salvatore Alaimo, after a life in the service of the kitchens of the princes of Cattolica, receives as a gift the deconsecrated chapel of the palace in Via Alessandro Paternostro in Palermo. In this very place, in the heart of the Sicilian capital, he decided to open the “Focacceria”, the name engraved on the wooden board at the entrance.
Since then six generations of the same family, first Alaimo, then Conticello, have managed this activity, symbol of the history of Sicily and of Italy as a whole. The Antica Focacceria S. Francesco is not only a reliable point of reference for Sicilian gastronomy, belonging to the prestigious Association of Historical Premises of Italy, but over time it has become known as a meeting place for exponents of politics and literature, a symbol of the fight against the mafia.
Among the illustrious clients are Luigi Pirandello, Leonardo Sciascia, Renato Guttuso who, together with as many illustrious writers and artists, began to meet at the Focacceria making it their point of reference, a literary café and a place of expression of 20th century Italian culture.
A symbol of Sicilian gastronomy and street food, the Focacceria is first of all an immersive experience in the most genuine atmosphere of the city and its food, which is prepared here every day non-stop. Going to the Focacceria means spending an hour or so in the middle of the hustle and bustle without the restlessness of Palermo’s inhabitants and tourists who meet and get confused.
Antica Focacceria S. Francesco was also, without a shadow of a doubt, the pioneer of street food in the city of Palermo. For 186 years it has been making known to Sicilians and customers scattered in every corner of the world the most popular specialties of the island’s capital: bread ca’ meusa, panelle, cazzilli, sfincione, crocché di latte, but also arancine, sardines a beccafico, eggplant caponata, cannoli and many other specialties of popular Sicilian cuisine.
Antica Focacceria is now present in different cities of the Peninsula with 12 stores, but as ambassador of Sicilian gastronomy it also takes part in the main food events organized in the most beautiful squares of Italy, as the ones proposed by Slow Food (Cheese, Fish and Terra Madre), but also by the International Festival of Street Food of Cesena since its first edition in 2000, contributing significantly to the name of Palermo as one of the first cities in the world on the international street food scene.
The flagship product of Antica Focacceria S. Francesco is the focaccia, called in Sicilian “vastedda”, a round, crispy loaf sprinkled with sesame. Freshly baked, it is stuffed having two variants to choose from: the schietta version (“schietta” stands for unmarried), bathed in lard and seasoned with sheep’s ricotta cheese and caciocavallo cheese from Ragusa (so called because the white of the ricotta cheese would remember the veil of a virgin woman heading to the altar dressed in white), or the maritata version (maritata” stands for married), with the addition of spleen, lung and calf trachea, boiled and then seasoned in lard inside the tianu (the pan) and sliced daily in industrial quantities.
Many of the ingredients used are purchased from companies with very strong ethical value and linked to critical consumption.
The flavor of the Focacceria is also that of freedom, the fight against the mafia and prevarication. All values that are reflected in the choice of suppliers and collaborators who share values such as fairness and transparency and who are determinedly proceeding towards the achievement of these goals.
Today Antica Focacceria S. Francesco has 12 stores in Italy, all of which carry out great work on quality, respect for traditional recipes, attention to the particular processing of products, as well as the full application of health and hygiene regulations and the protection of its employees. It promotes, in short, the message of “Good, Clean and Fair”.