Outer Lots: Olives restaurant in Sicily, Italy

Photograph by Max Allegra

At the end of January, John Paul McCartney played his first-ever gig in someplace neither St. Paul nor L.A. could claim. The concert took place at Etna, one of the best-known volcanoes in the world, which sits just off the coast of Sicily. At night, the stunning lava-rock landscape is lit by glowing colors and canary-yellow fireworks from each pyrotechnic show. But you won’t have to be a Beatle to take in this sight. This small town, which sits where the volcano last erupted in 1881, has a distinct Italian-welcome vibe. The town is very small (only around 3,200 residents), but with its views and menus, Olives is quite popular.

The Italian chef, Armando Souza, owns 11 restaurants around the country, but he’s one of the best-known for his Etna concepts. Four years ago, he brought a brief foray into fusion cuisine into a 1,000-square-foot outdoor patio on the dusty road near the Volcanic Museum with a view of the volcano, about five minutes from town. The exclusive social club, “Greenville,” which was also the final stop on McCartney’s tour bus, includes a unique wooden counter with a heated pizza oven and nine screens for watching the volcanic night sky. I ordered a grilled octopus salad ($26) in the patio dining room and a less-spicy version for lunch at the Etna Pub and Grill, (facebook.com/EtnaPubAndGrill). The well-packed pub serves, for example, tomato and mushroom lasagna and mushroom-and-cheese empanadas.

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