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Iconic 100 – Auckland East 2021

Little Sicily – Calamari friti

Awarded by Matt Bauckham

On my second day of a job in Penrose I got a targeted ad on Instagram for Little Sicily. The pic was of a hot pork sandwich. With limited dining choices in Penrose I was instantly interested and went. It was amazing. Homemade buns, roared porchetta, salad and sauces that were perfect. The next day I bought a couple of friends but this time I added the calamari. And holy smokes it was good. Small crispy rings with deep fried capers and wedge of lemon and a couple sauces that were bellisimo! I’ve since asked what the sauces were and got told that they’ve researched garum, an ancient Roman condiment that was used on everything. It’s not just the sauces and the calamari or the rest of the amazing menu that stands out for this place – it’s the dedication, passion and love that comes with every dish, from Dave and Steve. It’s tucked away in a semi industrial area under a car garage. It doubles as a music rehearsal space so there’s always talented characters coming in and out who also sample the amazing food and set a creative atmosphere that is very welcoming. Little Sicily is my favourite restaurant. It’s not pretentious and extremely welcoming. And the seafood night on Thursday is hands down amazing. Go try it, you’ll love it, I promise you this.

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JUDGES TOP PICKS, Metro, 2022, Issue 433

“The grungy surrounds – an industrial area rubbing shoulders with the train track and its intermittent roar would merely feel shabby if the Kai being proffered by food truck Little Sicily were only average. But it’s bloody good, which makes everything feel edgy and cool. Calamari fritti is cooked with the lightest touch, velvety tuna crudo offset with crispy capers, red onion, and lemon mayo. Overall, these guys nail the balance of punchy and delicate flavours, and the granitas and sundaes are going to be total genius for humid summers in Tāmaki Makaurau.”

Anna King Shahab

Metro Eats – Under $25, Metro Magazine, Summer 2022, Issue 433

David Perillo and Steve Gilberd’s Little Sicily is a welcome slice of affordable Italian food right by the train tracks. To find it, just follow the red, green, and white signs to their yellow truck which, in non-pandemic times, offers indoor/outdoor dining so you can linger to enjoy your arancini. And it’ll be a damn good arancini too, giant size, just like they do in Sicily. So get that, the calamari and the tuna crudo. We’re also incredibly intrigued by the PROSPECT of a doughnut served with garum (ancient fish sauce), which just gives us another reason to yet again follow the signs.

GO NZ: The Hungry Traveller, New Zealand Herald

Flavour Flashback

In late 2019 we took an extended holiday in Italy – an experience we’ve felt deeply grateful for since the world was plunged into the pandemic not long after. A few weeks in Sicily was enough to shape our opinion of its food offering as being deeply desirable. So it was a total delight to recently discover Little Sicily, a food truck parked beside the train tracks in an industrial area (702 Great South Rd, Penrose), run by ex restauranteurs David Perillo and Steve Gilberd and emitting a seriously appetizing and very Sicilian aroma of frying capers when I rocked up to order.

In less restricting times, there’s indoor seating – a ramble of comfy old sofas and red checkered tables inside Perillo’s adjoining rehearsal studio. The grittiness is a big part of the charm: open only Wednesday to Saturday and tucked away but there’s a steady stream of customers, with Seafood Thursdays (hello lobster pizza) especially buzzing. Order anything you’ll come away with a big smile on your face. A few must-tries are the arancino (proper, large Sicilian-sized – watch the final episode of Stanley Tucci’s Searching for Italy for a good spotlight on the arancino), the fantastically light and tender calamari fritti, and the tuna crudo served on garlicky pizza bread with fried capers, lemon mayo, and red onion.

The tuna crudo took me right back to a brilliant restaurant we ate at in Ortigia, called Carnezzeria (a seafood restaurant housed in an old butcher shop). It wouldn’t be a complete Sicilian flashback without a coffee granita – at Little Sicily it comes topped with soft-serve ice-cream and it is exactly the right sweet treat for these already hot and humid days we’re enjoying in Tāmaki Makaurau.

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