Food and drink
Few superlatives do justice to Zash’s relatively unknown enogastronomic operation. Voted best emerging chef in southern Italy in 2016, Guiseppe Raciti won his Michelin star in 2019 with his experimental interpretation of Sicilian classics. He lets the ingredients speak for themselves, while avoiding the sparkling theater of certain tasting menus in favor of more substantial dishes, but just as thrilling. This trust pays off. The menus of Zash land, sea, undergrowth and tasting of caviar and truffle are more than satisfactory in the literal and artistic sense. Bread (always a good litmus test) lands on quirky catwalks like Olympic champions – olive or anise balls and fennel paste delight alongside savory cannolis. Don’t miss the chef’s signature dish: uovo croccante pocket – a poached egg, expertly covered with a crunchy mixture of sweet provola cheese and red blackberries. The land menu is a carnivorous hymn to Italian cuisine, with global touches – the Maialino (roast pork with kabayaki sauce and spring onion) is a particularly delicious choice, as is the pudding with honey, milk and hay, a sweet finish to a perfect menu set. Zash’s dizzying level of food continues in the lunch menu, which also takes place in the cavernous space where the original grindstone remains. Italians in their hair order bottles of red from the famous Sicilian estate, Tasca d’Almerita, to accompany platters of ravioli and meat dishes. Breakfast is a more casual affair on the patio; where fresh smoothies, fruit and granola keep the wellness crowd on the right path – until traditional Sicilian cakes and pastries such as apricot cake lead them astray.
Directly below the Palmento, a compact spa oozes, bubbles and smokes like Mount Etna. The designers certainly took hold of a volcanic narrative – dark lava rock remains, setting a sultry tone and sculpting a serene central pool. Steam escapes from a precisely configured sauna and Turkish hammam, separated by angular glass, while languid figures in towels drift from hemolymphatic massages with Sicilian citrus oils to the relaxation beds where puffs of orange blossom rock them.
The dark mass of Etna dominates Zash and its surroundings, imparting a special energy and fertile soil where olive groves, fruit trees and the more exotic cacti and banana trees compete for space. Guests can slip on their walking shoes and explore the charcoal-tinted crater of Europe’s most active volcano, then cruise along the Ionian coast on the same day. Amalfi-style day trips to Taormina are well advised for those who have yet to admire its clifftop panoramas on the Mediterranean or its movie star hotels, as are escapades to flea markets and shopping malls. Beautifully dilapidated trattorias of neighboring Catania. Take advantage of Zash’s wealth of regional knowledge, especially when it comes to the local wine scene and top wineries.
Along with a great restaurant and spa, the service sets this hotel apart from other country shops in Sicily. Despite high food standards and Gucci-clad guests, an upbeat team shuns pretentious antics, deftly walking the polite yet sympathetic line. The restaurant team wears their impressive training lightly, delving into an encyclopedic knowledge of Sicilian wine and comforting a grumpy toddler in the same breath.
While some areas of Zash feel distinctly mature, the citrus groves are a hide-and-seek paradise, the pool is open enough to keep an eye on a brood with the other over a glass of Donna Fugata, and an approach. judicious scheduling makes the restaurant fair too. Baby cots are provided in the rooms and high chairs in the restaurant. It’s worth noting that the hotel’s compact nature doesn’t lend itself well to discretion – young children and honeymooners don’t always share the same vacation agendas.
The hotel offers a zero mile food philosophy, using herbs and citrus from the garden, then trawling the local markets for fresh ingredients. Towels are only washed if left on the floor, but a small change to raise the green standard would be to refill the bottles for bathroom products.
Accessibility for people with reduced mobility
One bedroom, located on the ground floor, has been adapted for people in wheelchairs.
Hotel address: Zash Country Boutique Hotel, Strada Provinciale 2 I-II N60, 95018, Riposto, Sicily Italy
Phone number: +39 095 782 8932
Price from: £ 158