Several folks have asked me about what to eat when they visit Sardinia and so I thought I would list my favourite things as a blog – so here you go – my little guide to eating in Sardinia and a few of the places that I love to eat them in Cagliari and Carloforte.
Lets start with bread – Historically the Sardinian industry was very much based on agriculture and for this reason many interesting and regional dried breads have evolved so that the shepherds and farmers never got hungry on their long and hot workdays.
Spianate -A flat bread which is quite similar to pitta bread and is long lasting.
Pistoccu- On the boat we jokingly call it emergency bread because it lasts forever and only needs reconstituting by pouring water over it. It immediately fluffs up but retains a crispiness – yes really!
Pane Carasau aka Music Bread – Twice baked beautiful light and crisp poppadum like bread served in the bread basket at almost every restaurant. You will sometimes find a new twist on these specific to an area – for instance in Bosa they make a puffed pillow shaped version. This bread will keep for up to a year if stored properly.
Sardinian Focaccia – Needs little explanation but the traditional Sardinian recipe includes potatoes.
Bottarga – Very typical dish of San Pietro Island and other coastal towns. It is pressed and sun dried fish roe. It is fabulous in spaghetti too.
Tuna Carlofortino – Chunks of pickled tuna served with potatoes. Don’t confuse this with Tuna Carlofotina see below for description.
Musciame – a finely sliced salted part of the tuna upper belly preserved in oil – sounds odd but trust me it’s good!
Buzzonaglia – the dark oily offcuts of tuna – delicious!
Belu – which is a form of tuna tripe
My favourite place to eat these in Cagliari is a really traditional loud buzzy fish trattoria – and if you are lucky the owner plays his guitar and sings late at night – very amusing – you never forget a night at Lillicu.
And in Carloforte there is a wonderful fishmonger where his wife cooks and serves the fish either on the street or right there in the fishmongers shop. Very friendly and atmospheric. Sandalo Ristorante
SOUP, PASTA and BEANS
Bobba – A thick and hearty bean soup.
Culurgionis – You see many spellings of this but they are ornate little parcels of pasta with potato and mint in. Hard to find but worth the effort.
I love to eat them sat out on the busy street at The Ristorante Italia whilst all of Cagliari strolls by in the evening.
Fave e Lardo – Fava beans with a very fatty pancetta – absolutely lovely but very elusive.
Fregola – A very small pasta which looks like couscous often served with prawns or clams.
Trofie or trofiette – Twists of small and light pasta often served with pesto.
Malloreddus – A heavier pasta great with tomato based sauces.
Spaghetti vongole – It seems to be on every menu – spaghetti with clams and butter.
Spaghetti Ai Ricci Di Mare – sea urchin eggs.
MEAT & FISH
Suckling Pig – Just amazing and cooked over myrtle leaves – if you want to try this you almost always have to book the day ahead so make enquiries.
When I am in Carloforte we often eat this in at Il Mole which is basically a large tent squished in between the ferries arriving but it is has a great BBQ and is really good at this and other BBQ meats.
Magro di Manzo in Salsa Di Acciughe– Beef cooked in wine with anchovy sauce. Hard to find but thrilling if you do,
In fact traditional meat dishes are difficult to find in San Pietro island especially slow cooked casseroles using game and I get to craving them after a while. So when I go to Cagliari I treat myself to a meal at The restaurant and Hotel Flora who cook very traditional dishes and excel at seasonal dishes and game especially.
Tuna Carlofortina – Tuna fillet cooked in a rich tomato and black olive sauce
Seadus – Deep fried cheese filled ravioli coated in honey
Papassinos – Dry sugary fruit biscuits often iced and topped with sugared balls
Finally – of course it’s not specific to Sardinia but there is always pizza so it’s worth listing my old haunt Tre Archi
So named as it has three arches (wood fired pizza ovens) It can hammer out 600 pizzas and hour, but its a relaxed placed with a courtyard in the centre of the building where they not only serve fabulous pizzas but also BBQ meats in the summer.
The house wine is good and cheap and pizzas start at 5 euros – so if you’re travelling on a budget this is the place to go.
If on the other hand you are ready to splurge and treat yourself if only for a cocktail in the swish bar head for the Hotel Villa Fanny.
Named after the owners mother this place is somewhere special, not least of which is that the owners also own Cagliari football club you may be rubbing shoulders with some of the rich and famous in the area.
One amusing little side note – if a man orders a cappuccino after an evening meal Italian waiters may have a little giggle as it’s not considered manly to drink coffee with milk after 11am!