Simona Tabasco and Beatrice Grannò's Day Off in Sicily Is All About Incredible Food
The breakout stars of HBO's 'The White Lotus' devoured granita and fried fish, rode a cable car with tourists, and visited beautiful beaches.
By Matt Jacobs, Simona Tabasco and Beatrice Grannò'
Published on 12/14/2022 at 3:00 PM
Simona Tabasco and Beatrice Grannò in White Lotus | Photo courtesy of HBO
Simona Tabasco and Beatrice Grannò first met years ago during drama-school tryouts. More recently, they helped each other record audition tapes for the second season of HBO’s The White Lotus. Mike White had no idea they were friends when he cast them. Now they're two of the show's breakout stars. Tabasco plays Lucia, an Italian sex worker who flirts her way into accommodations at the eponymous resort's Sicilian outpost, and Grannò is Mia, her musically inclined compatriot. During the shoot, the young actresses palled around Taormina, a coastal municipality along the Ionian Sea where the series set up shop at a branch of the Four Seasons. Tabasco and Grannò describe The White Lotus as a dream job, and their experiences in Sicily sound equally dreamy.
Simona Tabasco: As the shoot went on, we got a little more free time, and it was nice to get the time to go out and about in Taormina and learn about it with the rest of the cast. It’s known all over the world, so it was nice to have the time to do that.
Beatrice Grannò: We loved going out for lunch at this place called Tischi Toschi, which is a typical Sicilian restaurant. We ate so much. We tried to control ourselves by saying, “We have to be good. We’re just going to get vegetables.” Simona is actually really good. She was helping me. She kept telling me, “Don’t eat it. You’re gonna regret that.”
Interior | Photo courtesy of Tischi Toschi
“The story of the name of Tischi Toschi is really funny because we were wondering what it meant, and the owner told us that ‘tischi toschi’ in Sicilian slang means you're acting cool.”
Simona is from Naples, and in Italy all the best food comes from Naples. But at Tischi Toschi, we had this fried fish. I went crazy. Simona knew the dish, but I didn't. I think it was a Sicilian version of a Naples dish. I had it for the first time and loved it. The story of the name of Tischi Toschi is really funny because we were wondering what it meant, and the owner told us that “tischi toschi” in Sicilian slang means you're acting cool. The owner of the restaurant is this woman who moved to Milan because she wanted to make a career, and when she got back, her family was like, “Oh you went away from the south and now you're being cool.” That's why she called her restaurant that.
Tabasco: We had a lot of Sicilian main dishes, like caponata, in which there is eggplant and a lot of peppers. In the morning, we usually had granita at the Bam Bar. Granita is like gelato, but it's more iced.
Grannò: Then we went to the bar to get more cappuccinos. We just kept going into food places, and then we did loads of shopping. The first days were crazy, but then we stopped. We're not good for each other. Simona was like, “I can't go shopping with you, Beatrice. You make me buy everything.” Taormina is a small place, and the San Domenico Palace, where we were staying, is so big that it takes over Taormina. Everything was close to the set. I think that was what's nice about it: You could just walk around and be very close. It's mainly food that I remember, but we love clothes, too.
Tabasco: Twinset was the main shop in Taormina where we would go.
Photo courtesy of San Domenico Palace, a Four Seasons Hotel
“There are ways to go in between, so it gives you the sense of having a lot to explore, which is what we did. Once you’re on the lower side, you usually go to Giardini.”
Grannò: We went to Villa Sant'Andrea, which was another hotel by the Isola Bella, the beach. We would go to the center of the city by cable car. At the base of the cable car, there was this small bar. Once, we got a beer and went up. Do you remember that time we met those American tourists in the cable car? They said, “What are you doing here? Are you here for holiday?” We said we were filming The White Lotus, and they didn't believe us. They were like, “Oh, sure.” I had to show them a photo of us having dinner with Jennifer Coolidge.
Tabasco: One of the most beautiful places you can go in Taormina is Giardini Naxos. We had a day in Sicily where everyone went to the sea together. Taormina has an upper level, which is the center of the town with the shops and most of the restaurants, and a lower level, which is the seaside. There are ways to go in between, so it gives you the sense of having a lot to explore, which is what we did. Once you're on the lower side, you usually go to Giardini.
Grannò: People should definitely go to the Ancient Theatre — that's beautiful. And they should definitely have arancini rice balls. You'll be very happy.
Tabasco: You can choose between eggplant arancini or zucchini arancini or pistachio arancini, so you have a lot of choices to be happy.
Ancient Theatre | minoandriani/iStock/Getty Images
“People should definitely go to the Ancient Theatre — that’s beautiful. And they should definitely have arancini rice balls. You’ll be very happy.”
Grannò: The cast went to Casamatta, which was a nice bar next to the hotel. They serve amazing drinks, and they played good music. We had loads of fun there.
Tabasco: We used to be there often to drink something, to have conversation, to be together.
Grannò: When the rest of the cast came to Rome, they reconstructed the rooms of the San Domenico Palace in studios. It was incredible how detailed they were, down to the pens that we found on the desks. I remember Aubrey Plaza saying, “Let's have dinner at this place,” and she booked the restaurant. I said, “How did you know this? This is one of the best Italian restaurants, and it's not even touristy.” It was Casa Coppelle.
Tabasco: [The shoot] was a special experience, and also a human experience, because I felt very close to every person of the cast.
Places to Eat & Drink
Things to See & Do
Via del Teatro Greco, Taormina
Largo Santa Caterina, Taormina
Piazza S. Domenico de Guzman, Taormina
Via Nazionale, Mare