Review by Anna Renkert, Gabriella Mansilla, Louis Andreacchio, & Thomas Alessandrello
You cannot miss walking past Arà: è Sicilia; with its modern décor and lighting, it is very easy to be attracted to its doors, and If that doesn’t get you, maybe the assortment of sweets, pastries and gelato flavors displayed will get you to go in. The bar was welcoming with kind, genuine service. The lady behind the counter was nice and answered any questions we asked her. The atmosphere was upbeat, mainly with Italian customers conversing with their friends along with light music in the background.
The menu was small, offering a few of Sicily’s finest snacks, including arancini, caponata, cakes, desserts, and cookies, as well as gelato. The warm foods are made fresh each day, while the gelato and cakes last a few days. Arà is special because of the more unique flavors that appeared on the menu. The gelato is not kept in massive containers, overflowing with candied fruit and other frivolous decorations, but instead kept cool in sealed, metal cylinders to preserve its taste and consistency. Another thing that makes this a gelateria worth visiting is the quality of the ingredients used. The flavors consistently change throughout the year, rotating according to season.
There wasn’t a huge variety of gelato flavors, but what it lacked in numbers made up in taste, which was rich and different from the typical gelato found in Florence. What made the stracciatella stand out was that it had candied fruit, pistachios and chocolate pieces in it – something we had never thought would be in good in a gelato flavor. The chocolate was also a winner with its bitter taste and creamy texture. We also noticed that it did not melt fast or get runny like some gelato does, but stayed at a perfect consistency until the end. We also ordered both a lemon and mandarin orange granita, which is a traditional Sicilian shaved ice, which was thirst quenching on a sunny day. The flavor of the two citruses were fresh and tasty, like they were squeezed that day. We also tasted two different arancini (Sicilian fried rice balls), a spinach focaccia, as well as the espresso with a powered biscotto. The food was warm and delicious and it really seems that the establishment cares for the ingredients they use in their foods.
There isn’t much room to sit down, but most people tended to stand around the front ordering, chatting, and eventually walking about the street with their half-eaten ice creams. The clientele seemed to be mostly locals, as well as explorers such as ourselves looking for a cup of the sweet stuff. The warm, yet refreshingly chill environment of Arà: è Sicilia will bring us back, and we would definitely recommend this place to anyone looking to try something different and delicious. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and a place to go back to in the future for both gelato and savory items, but because of the size, not for a sit-down meal.
Arà: è Sicilia
Via degli Alfani, 127r
Hours: Daily 10:00am-10:00pm