Imagine: after walking through the windy streets of Boston, you stumble upon a warm and sunny caffè. You wander in, seeking a minute of refuge and hoping that they have something appealing that will buy you a bit of comfort and calm. The room smells of espresso and… something pleasantly sweet and yeasty. Upon further investigation, you find that the bright citrus, warm honey and yeast, and rich buttery aromas are all coming from the freshly baked Brioscia downstairs… But before tasting: a quick brief on Brioscia.
Brioscia is a traditional Sicilian bread that is unique to the region of Sicily – it simply can’t be found elsewhere throughout the country. Within Sicily, though, it is everywhere – served with granita (like Sorbet), gelato, breakfast plates, or even alone as an early morning (or late night!) snack. The flavors are surprisingly unlike the traditional French brioche. Made with eggs, honey, lemon, orange, butter and yeast, Brioscia is less buttery than brioche, and more enriched by citrus and honey notes.
Now you’re ready to taste: you learn that the Brioscia in Zia Gianna is served as a component of most dishes – with gelato, in traditional Sicilian fashion, but also alongside eggs and home fries, and in breakfast sandwiches. You try it in a breakfast sandwich and find that the rich, warm flavors and barely-sweet touch of honey bring more depth to the sandwich than you could have imagined. While in most breakfast sandwiches, the bread is just a carrier of eggs and bacon, here it beautifully complements the savory meat and melted cheese. It’s incredible, and you’ll soon be craving it with everything!
If you’re interested in learning more about Brioscia, stop by the restaurant to speak with Executive Chef and Owner, Nino Barbalace. He knows all there is to know about it, and is happy to share his classic Sicilian cuisine with everyone (he’s also one of the only people to offer this bread in the state of Massachusetts!).