Cave Ox: Lunch on Mt. Etna

Cave Ox is a hang out for local Etna winemakers and their fans owned and run by Sandro Dibello.

This humble entryway and the décor inside belie Dibella’s extraordinary international (but focused on Etna) wine list of organic, biodynamic and natural wine. I arrive for lunch and find the owner, Sandro Dibella, chatting with Frank Cornelissen, the Belgian, who is reknown for making (very) “natural” wines on Etna.


Cave Ox is built from black lava stone and its cellar is a cave left by lava flows where Dibella’s parents used to keep livestock. Sandro Dibella in the doorway of the cellar with the dining area reflected in the glass.


Dibella comes to take my order and brings Cornelissen’s olive oil to the table along with a basket of bread.

I would like to taste Cornelissen’s wine, but it’s listed for almost $200 a bottle.Instead, I try a glass of Girolamo ‘A Rina Russo Etna Rosso DOC 2011 (Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio). A complex and elegant wine from grapes grown in 6-700 meter vineyards in Passopisciaro, a few kilometers away.

Giuseppe Russo, who trained as a pianist, took over the vineyard in 2005 when his father passed away. (‘A Rina means “For Rina”, his mother.) His wines are made only from organic grapes, fermented with natural yeasts and without temperature control, and not filtered. The “cru” wines are made exclusively from 60-100 year old alberello vines in his Feudo, San Lorenzo and Feudo d’Mezzo vineyards.

This is his “entry level” wine made from grapes in four different vineyards (both old and new vines): an amazingly complex but not too heavy wine, ideal for my lunch.

Local cheese, artichokes, peppers, olives and mushrooms for the antipasto.

Dibello’s seasonal creation for me (not on the menu) of tagliatelle with local greens and porcini mushrooms.

Via Nazionale, 159
95012 Solicchiata (CT)
Tel.: 328/1349683
Closed on Tuesday

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