Chef Christo brings love to the kitchen
Chef Chris Drake opened Sicilian II in 2015 as a family-run Italian restaurant and in no time it became a local favorite. His success was based on an amazing work ethic, family recipes that are generations old, many from a Sicilian grandmother, and an insistence that love was the most important ingredient. The first time I ate there, shortly after the opening, I told everyone who would listen that the pizza called The Sicilian’s Favorite was the best pizza I had ever had. It still is.
Chef Christo, as his friends called him, passed away in 2016, but it was only recently that his son, Chris Drake II, took over the restaurant and kitchen. He had done a good job running the front of the house when his father was around, and there was some concern that as owner and chef he might start making some changes.
Well, in fact he did make changes and they have made this amazing restaurant even better than it was before. He took a pleasant and comfortable restaurant with great Italian food, jacked up the charm, and made Sicilian II his own. It is exactly what he should have done.
The atmosphere is cozy and charming, the service is first rate, fast and friendly, but the food, oh my! The food is delicious. The menu has a handful of good appetizers, but you will be blown away by the cheese sticks. They are labor intensive to make, so it is amazing that you can get six for just $6, but, just as my dear friend Christo said so many times, the main ingredient is love. These are hands down the best cheese sticks I have ever had, and I could make a wonderful meal out of an order or two and be a very, very happy and contented fellow.
It would be an egregious mistake not to mention the 100-year-old lasagna recipe that Chris Drake II, as did his father before him, assured me has not changed in any way. It is delicious, but I do have to say, absolutely everything that I have tried at Sicilian II was simply superlative and it would be hard to pick just a few of the best sellers.
Remember that this is a made-from-scratch menu, from the marinara sauce, to the super-secret pizza dough recipe (Chef Christo once promised to do me bodily harm if I ever gave it away!) and the stunningly good cheese sticks (yes, they are worth mentioning twice). The Village Salad, made with tomatoes, feta, cucumbers, pepperoncinis, onions, olives, and Greek dressing ($9), is world class. I am a big fan of a well-made gyro ($8), and this one is a winner as well, but I always ask for extra tzatziki sauce, what has to be one of the best cold sauces in the world.
The pasta dishes and entrees are all noteworthy, including the manicotti ($12), shrimp scampi ($14) and the famous 100-year-old lasagna recipe ($12). But let me get to the point: The pizza will change your life. Homemade pizza dough, and a blazing hot gas-fired brick oven all contribute to the stunningly good pizza, but the Sicilian’s Favorite, made with house-made Italian sausage, pepperoni, tomatoes and fresh oregano, is my favorite pizza of all time. Period.
My dear friend Chef Christo used to say, “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen,” and that is exactly what Chris Drake II did, but now the kitchen is his. Bravo.
Address: 1670 Pass Road, Biloxi
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday