On our second day, we walked down Via Principe di Belmonte several times and there were plenty of restaurants down that street and the surrounding ones to choose from - the majority being pizzerias or trattorias serving traditional Sicilian cuisine. As I'd chosen our meal at QuattroVenti the night before, I let Ashley choose where we ate - and he suggested Pizzeria La Duchessa. This was perfect as we'd spent the day exploring the city and nearby town, Monreale, so were dressed in casual daytime clothes, but the restaurant is informal and we even ate al fresco.
As we ate outside, I couldn't comment on the restaurant, but the outdoor area was nice enough - we were sheltered from the sun and thankfully the street wasn't too busy so we didn't feel interrupted at any point. We ate a bit earlier than typical Italian dinner time, so there were only two other couples eating - most likely, also tourists - so the service remained consistently good.
Being predominantly a pizzeria, there were so many options to choose from - three pages of the menu, in fact - and this wasn't just toppings... you could have a traditional base, Sicilian base or stuffed crust. Both Ashley and I chose the same pizza and as soon as we ordered, realised we should have probably chosen two different ones and shared. Believe me, it was hard making a decision; there were about four different varieties I had my eye on - but the one we chose was very good.
We chosen Sicilian style Sicilian: a thin crisp base, topped with mozzarella, mushrooms, tomato, salami and red onion. There was even some crisp Parma ham in the middle! Now, I absolutely love pizza in Italy and once you've had it, pizzas at home (whether homemade, takeaway or shop-bought) do not compare! I've had pizzas in both Lake Garda and Verona and this was just as good as then (maybe even better than the one I had in Verona!). Of course, being Italy, there's no scrimping on the portion size and the pizza was huge, with plenty of toppings. Needless to say I struggled to manage it all and ate about three-quarters before giving the rest to Ash.
We accompanied our pizzas with a really gorgeous local wine. As well the standard wine menu, there was a separate card showcasing local wineries. We opted for a rosé, which was fruity but not too sweet - and complemented the meaty toppings well. It was also reasonably priced at about 16-18€.
For a casual lunch or dinner, I'd recommend La Duchessa. The pizzas were great, local wine went down a treat and the service throughout was good. I don't think any of the waiting staff are Sicilian, but nothing was too much trouble and we were well looked after. Their English was also excellent. We had seen online about there being a little dog, who sat outside the restaurant without bothering diners or passers-by - he was very well behaved and not a nuisance at all. It's a shame we weren't staying longer, as I am sure we would have returned - especially as there were so many pizzas to sample!
Love, Lucy xx