Ingredients are Sicilian (minus garlic and onions), ambience is modern hotel elegance, buffet lunch an ensamble of Chef Filippo La Mantia’s own creations.

While Lo Chef and Raul Bova (star of Under the Tuscan Sun) were chatting by the window, Susan Van Allen (author of 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go) and I, unfazed by such luminosity,  had one of everything.

Here a seasonal favorite, and on the menu of almost every restaurant in Rome at this time of year, fava beans presented as a thick luscious soup.

Sicilian desserts truly take the cake in my book for best Italian dolci.  On my plate – and it was all mine -torte di mele (apple cake), strawberry frappe, cream of pistachio (consistency of pudding), a true cannolo, and then the mini cassata – veramente la ciliegina sulla torta.

Now I can only imagine what it must be like in the evening for dinner.

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