Cagliari is the largest city in Sardinia, the wildly beautiful Italian island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea. Boasting refined restaurants, traditional cafes, quirky establishments and trendy locales teaming with young Sardinians, dining in Cagliari is a multifaceted cultural experience. Discover the island’s rich heritage in this guide to Cagliari’s top ten restaurants.
Cagliari’s Antico Caffè 1855 is a true historical and cultural institution in the city, established in 1855, as its name so proudly states. For many years during the 19th century and into the early 20th, this cafe was an important meeting point in Cagliari, where numerous Italian personalities would gather to reflect on current affairs with like-minded people. Antico Caffè 1855 retains its prestigious atmosphere in an elegant, Art Deco design, and remains one of the most refined venues in Cagliari. Comprising of a restaurant, a wine bar, a cocktail bar, a tea room, a patisserie and a creperie, Antico Caffè is ready to satisfy any indulgent temptation.
Ristorante Dal Corsaro, Cagliari | Courtesy of Ristorante dal Corsaro
A family-run business, Dal Corsaro is known as one of the best fine dining restaurants in Cagliari, and rightfully so. The kitchen is run by the young and talented Stefano Deidda, who has a masterful ability to transform the ingredients of Sardinia’s traditional cuisine into delightfully refined dishes which never fail to satisfy. Deidda’s mother, Giuseppina, is responsible for the excellent and constantly updated selection of wines to pair with the food. The several dining rooms, soberly but elegantly furnished, showcase Dal Corsaro’s prestige. Efficient service and great attention to detail complete one of the best restaurants in Cagliari.
In ancient times, a population of skilled warriors called Sher-Dan inhabited Sardinia. The five founders of restaurant Principi di Dan drew inspiration from those legendary fighters and put together their individual skills in gastronomy, oenology, archaeology, culture and tourism to create an outpost where Sardinia’s excellence in cuisine and wine can be defended at all costs. At Principi di Dan, customers can taste the simplest but most authentic specialities at the very core of Sardinia’s culinary tradition. These include a rich and varied range of succulent cold cuts, cheeses and baked bread preparations, served here on wooden talleri (cutting board). Prinicipi di Dan also takes pride in its special collection of local wines from across the island, including the excellent and celebrated Cannonau wines.
Young travelers in Cagliari looking for an affordable restaurant with a touch of originality should look no further than Corso Dodici. Conveniently located in the city center, Corso Dodici is a quirky establishment set up by a group of young, easy-going staff, and is guaranteed to provide a simple but delicious meal. Customers at Corso Dodici can choose the inexpensive fixed menu of the day or order à la carte. The venue decor is dominated by wood, floors are paved with parquet, and the dining room is furnished with small tables lit by empty cans made into lamps. Those in luck might dine at Corso Dodici during one of their live music evenings, enjoying tasty food and a free concert.
Restaurant Sa Piola is a highly recommended establishment with a broad range of recipes and flavors characteristic of Sardinia’s traditional cuisine. The menu offers dishes inspired by local products which, while slightly reinterpreted into eclectic, creative dishes, nevertheless harness traditional flavors. Here, customers can try the unusual culurgiones, a more elaborate version of Italian ravioli, or the succulent red ox meat, sourced from a local breed of beef. The restaurant features an extremely homey setting, scattered with kitchenware, wicker baskets and decorative wine barrels which reinforce the sensation of entering traditional Sardinia.
Saint Remy Da Marino, Cagliari | Courtesy of Saint Remy
After many years spent working abroad, most notably in Switzerland’s St. Moritz, chef Marino returned to his beloved hometown, Cagliari, and put his culinary knowledge to work at his restaurant, Saint Remy. The menu offers a selection of exciting dishes inspired by Mediterranean cuisine and prepared with local ingredients, including seafood freshly found off Sardinia’s beautiful coast. The restaurant’s small venue creates an intimate atmosphere, and despite a mostly rustic setting, many details – from the furnishings to the lighting and background music, contribute to an overall elegant and refined ambiance that is sure to please any who choose to dine here.
Cagliari’s Caffè degli Spiriti deserves a visit for its striking location alone. This trendy bar is situated in the historical neighborhood of Castello on the terrace of the city’s Bastione di Saint Remy, a majestic fort and popular tourist attraction built in the 19th century. A breathtaking view of the entire city and the distant sea can be enjoyed from its large terrace, making for a romantic evening setting. Caffè degli Spiriti has made the most out of this fantastic location by installing tables and gazebos outdoors, so that customers can enjoy their food or drinks while taking in the stunning panoramas. Ideal for a lazy afternoon, Caffè degli Spiriti even has a few hammocks on which to recline and bask in the Sardinian sun
Antica Cagliari, Cagliari | Courtesy of Ristorante Antica Cagliari
Restaurant Antica Cagliari is found in the neighborhood of Marina, one of the city’s four historical quarters originally established as an area for warehouses and residences for the port’s workforce. Antica Cagliari is one of the best restaurants in Marina, and an ideal choice for those in search of some refreshment while strolling through this culturally rich neighborhood. Situated in a nicely renovated 19th century building, Antica Cagliari’s wood beams, stone walls and dim lights create a classy but intimate atmosphere, and set an ideal mood to enjoy the restaurant’s exquisite Mediterranean cuisine. Unsurprisingly, the menu is largely fish-based, and the chef does an excellent job at bringing out the fish’s flavor in every recipe.
Il Birrificio di Cagliari is a classic pub with a long, wooden bar, small tables, dim lights and a convivial atmosphere. But looking around in the large room, one soon spots the pub’s unique treasure: two large windows reveal the copper vats where the house beers are produced. Indeed, at Il Birrificio di Cagliari, beer is crafted on site; unlike industrial beers, which are pasteurized and filtered for long-time preservation, this brewpub‘s beers are unaltered and served rigorously on tap for a mix of flavors and aromas. Besides the typical pub fare, Il Birrificio offers a range of succulent meat dishes specially prepared with their beers that perfectly complement the delicious drinks.
Peek-a-boo Lounge & Restaurant, Cagliari | Courtesy of Peek-A-Boo
Those living in Cagliari call the St. Benedict Market simply the Market, as it is the city’s biggest, and among the largest indoor food markets in Europe. Curiously enough, Peek-a-Boo Lounge is also located here, one of the trendiest and most lavish corners in the city. This bar and restaurant spans two storeys and boasts an impressive decor of iron, steel and wood, as well as a unique, net-like structure that sprawls from above the bar up to the ceiling. Customers can stop by throughout the day for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or simply to have a few drinks; but Peek-a-Boo Lounge is especially recommended for a night out: every day, following the dinner service, a DJ-set is performed for those who wish to dance the night away.