A splendid destination for lovers of crystal clear waters and wild nature, Sardinia is also a foodie’s paradise. An incomparable variety of local ingredients form the base of the island’s rich culinary tradition, from cheese to meats, unique pastas, game and fish. The Sardinian capital, Cagliari, is dense with dining spots where to experience the island’s traditional flavours: a revisited version of our previous list, we bring you ten of the best cultural restaurants in town.
One of the historical neighbourhoods of Cagliari, Marina, lies south of the castle walls. Just off one of the quarter’s main roads, via Roma, and housed in a renovated 19th century building, is Antica Cagliari. The restaurant enjoys a refined but unpretentious atmosphere, with stone walls and dark woods warmly illuminated by soft lightning. Inspired by the traditional cuisine of Sardinia and the Mediterranean, the menu is imbued with the flavours of fish dishes prepared with fresh, local ingredients. An ample selection of local wines complements the choice, the intense notes of the local produce blending with the rich tastes of the dishes.
A fresh and lively vibe characterises Corso Dodici. Situated in the city centre of Cagliari, this venue is a gastrobar whose flair is set by the predominance of wooden furniture, the minimalistic lines of the interior design, and details like the use of jam jars as flower vases or for serving. Serving both an à la carte and fixed daily menus, the restaurant uses the freshest ingredients to create constantly changing combinations in its eclectic offering of modern Italian cuisine. A regular concert venue, at Corso Dodici guests can also enjoy their meals to the notes of live music.
Saint Remy Da Marino, Cagliari | Courtesy of Il Birrificio di Cagliari
Da Marino al Saint Remy
Overlooking one of the most notable historical sights in Cagliari, the St. Remy Bastion, this restaurant is named after its location, and its chef and owner. Having built a stellar career for himself, working in places like St. Moritz and the Savoy in London, when chef Marino finally decided to return to his beloved homeland, it was to establish his own restaurant, Da Marino al Saint Remy. Housed in a historical building, the restaurant offers a charming atmosphere where everything is refined to the last detail. With menus following the changing seasons, the restaurant focuses on fresh produce, especially fish, presented in elaborate compositions and accompanied by carefully selected wines.
Proiding itself on being the first brewpub of its kind in Sardinia, Il Birrificio di Cagliari recreates the atmosphere of a classic pub, with dark wooden tones and long bars, only to reveal its distinctive feature: the large copper vats where the beer is produced in-house. Unfiltered and unpasteurised, the beer is rigorously served on draft and also used to prepared the Birrificio’s dishes. Cooked in the homemade brew, the options on the menu include the spezzatino birraio (beef stew) prepared with casteddu, the house stout, straccetti di cavallo alla birra stampaxi (horse strips with wheat beer), and roasted pork with birra biddanoa (a light beer).
A vast dining hall, decorated with stone cusp arches, La Griglia d’Oro is ideal for large groups or for celebrating a special occasion. A modern and light interior decor provides a relaxed setting while fragrant pizza dough is knead and prepared for the wood oven, and local fish specialties are crafted in the kitchen. In the best of Sardinian fashions, it comes as no surprise that the mixed fish grill features among favourites. Prepared with prawns, cuttlefish, swordfish, and squid, and accompanied by one of the many local and national wines on offer, the plate is bound to satisfy the most voracious of taste buds.
Coming from a family that has worked in the restaurant for three generations, chef Luigi Pomata has a passion for food running in his veins, and he showcases this gift in his restaurant. Located in central Cagliari, Luigi Pomata has a refined ambience with a minimalist style, decorated in the tones of red and chocolate. Having travelled extensively around the world for work, the chef sprinkles traditional cuisine with a hint of exotic flavours and prides himself on being the first to have served ‘susci’ in Sardinia. The seasonally changing menu currently offers mouth-watering options like the fresh spaghetti in a fish variation on carbonara with tuna, smoked swordfish, mussels, clams, and shrimps.
Born in 1987 as a pub and pizzeria, the turning point in Martinelli’s history occurred just over ten years ago, when chef Roberto Raccis decided to abandon the wood oven to dedicate himself and his kitchen to hobs and burners. A modern design and a cosy environment invite guests to comfortably nestle at one of the tables and pick from a variety of antipasti, primi, secondi, contorni and desserts. Always accompanied by daily specials, the dishes on offer include a wide variety of fish options like trofie with swordfish and cherry tomatoes, or the saffron gilthead bream.
An enocaffetteria and ristorante, PerBacco is a café, brunch spot, wine bar, and restaurant. Nestled in the historical centre of Cagliari, in the Stampace neighbourhood, the venue offers a cosy location where guests can lounge and enjoy a glass of wine with an aperitif, or feast on a delicious meal. Chef and owner Sabrina Silvi prepares a range of dishes included in PerBacco’s daily menus and brings together the regional tradition of Sardinia and contemporary cooking. This way, in a constantly evolving offer, sea urchin lorighittas (a typical pasta from the island) can find themselves sitting next to mixed tempura, or a succulent rosemary beef filet.
Just steps away from Cagliari’s port, a true institution on the city’s dining scene, is Dal Corsaro. Run by young chef Stefano Deidda, the restaurant established itself as one of the most widely acclaimed spots for traditional Sardinian cooking with a contemporary twist. The classic and refined environment of the restaurant provides the perfect frame for masterfully presented parades of dishes, arranged in colourful and tantalisingly elaborate combinations. A legacy passed on from past generations, the chef focuses on the classic fish-based cooking of the island, introducing a modern and creative spark to its most traditional flavours.
Enjoying a charming location in the shade of Cagliari’s castle, Sa Piola is among the most evocative dining spots in town, especially when the weather allows for sitting in the narrow alley on the restaurant’s doorstep. The indoor decor creates a rustic and homely ambience, exuding the traditional essence of the location. The same essence imbues the kitchen’s philosophy too, with dishes prepared according to genuine Sardinian recipes and using the freshest local ingredients from the town market. Highlights of the menu include local cheese platters, figs with coppa and goat cheese, ciccioneddas with seafood pesto, and cordula di Bortigali (lamb entrails) with peas.