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  • Writer's pictureThe Sicilian Wanderer

Sfincione Palermitano : The rustic Sicilian pizza that's taking the world by storm

sfincione palermitano

The sfincione is a rustic pizza native to the city of Palermo in Sicily. Its history dates back to at least the 17th century. The origin of the term "sfincione" is uncertain, but it's believed to derive from the Sicilian word "sfinziuni", meaning "sponge", due to its soft and spongy texture. The original sfincione was a type of focaccia topped with tomatoes, onions, anchovies, salt, oregano, and olive oil. Over time, the recipe evolved, incorporating additional ingredients like cheese, sausages, mushrooms, and olives.

Sfincione has become a staple in Palermitan cuisine and throughout Sicily. It's often enjoyed for lunch or dinner as a main dish, paired with beer or a glass of wine. Today, sfincione has gained global recognition as one of the specialties of Sicilian cuisine. Many Italian restaurants outside of Sicily have added sfincione to their menus, often with regional variations of the original recipe.


  • 500g flour

  • 25g fresh yeast

  • 300ml water

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 500g peeled tomatoes

  • 1 medium onion

  • 100g anchovies

  • Oregano to taste

  • Olive oil to taste

  • Salt to taste


  • 1. In a large bowl, mix the flour, yeast, and salt. Gradually add water and knead until you have a soft, smooth dough.

  • 2. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rise in a warm place for at least an hour.

  • 3. Meanwhile, prepare the sfincione topping. Finely chop the onion and anchovies and mix them with the peeled tomatoes, oregano, olive oil, and salt.

  • 4. Once the dough has risen, roll it out evenly on a baking tray. Spread the topping over the sfincione, leaving about a 1 cm border free from the edges.

  • 5. Bake the sfincione in a preheated oven at 200°C (392°F) for about 20-25 minutes, or until the surface is golden and crispy.

  • 6. Allow it to cool slightly, then cut the sfincione into pieces and serve warm.

  • 7. Sfincione can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days and reheated before serving.

palermos specialities

There are many rustic pizza recipes that can be likened to the Palermitan sfincione. Here are some of the most renowned ones:

  • The Neapolitan "pizza alla pala" is a rustic pizza similar to sfincione but hailing from Naples. It boasts a thin, crispy base topped with tomato, mozzarella, olive oil, and oregano.

  • The Genovese focaccia is a rustic bread from Liguria, seasoned with coarse salt and olive oil. It can be enhanced with ingredients like onions, olives, tomatoes, and cheese.

  • The Roman white pizza is a rustic, white pizza seasoned with just olive oil, salt, and rosemary. It can be enriched with sundried tomatoes, olives, or cheese.

  • The Tuscan schiacciata is a rustic bread seasoned with salt, olive oil, and rosemary. It can be enhanced with fresh tomatoes, olives, onions, and cheese.

  • The "pizza al taglio" is a Roman rustic pizza sold by the slice in many Italian pizzerias. It has a soft, light base topped with tomato, mozzarella, olive oil, and other ingredients like cured meats, vegetables, and cheeses.

Here are two recipes that can be delightful variations of the Palermitan sfincione:

Sfincione with Eggplants and Salted Ricotta


  • Follow the same ingredients as the Palermitan sfincione.

  • 2 eggplants

  • 100g grated salted ricotta


Follow the same steps as the Palermitan sfincione. Dice the eggplants and sauté them in olive oil with a pinch of salt. Add the eggplants to the tomato and onion mixture. Spread the mixture on the sfincione, add grated salted ricotta and oregano. Bake as per the original recipe.

Sfincione with Tuna, Capers, and Olives


  • Follow the same ingredients as the Palermitan sfincione.

  • 1 can of oil-packed tuna

  • 50g capers

  • 50g pitted black olives


Follow the same steps as the Palermitan sfincione. Drain and crumble the tuna. Add the tuna, capers, and olives to the tomato and onion mixture. Spread the mixture on the sfincione, then add oregano and olive oil. Bake as per the original recipe.

In conclusion, the Palermitan sfincione is a culinary specialty with a rich and intriguing history in Sicilian cuisine. This rustic pizza, topped with tomato, onion, anchovies, oregano, olive oil, and salt, has become a global favorite due to its simplicity, deliciousness, and versatility. However, there are many tasty variations of this recipe, incorporating ingredients like eggplants, salted ricotta, tuna, capers, and olives, offering new flavors and tastes. Whether you opt for the traditional version or a variant, sfincione is always a delightful dish cherished by all Italian cuisine aficionados.

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