You’d think the cuisine of Sardinia would be all about the seafood but, in fact, this island has a strong heritage of inland living, so much of the traditional fare errs on the meatier side. Not that that’s a bad thing – as in much of Italy, this is a place where culinary traditions are still very much alive. Sardinians are among the longest-living folk in Europe, if not the world – and the wealth of natural ingredients behind their longevity is on full display in the island’s restaurants.
The Sulcis wine region may not be the most touristed part of Sardinia, but this wonderful father-and-son restaurant is well worth a drive from wherever you are. There’s an incredible selection of seafood (think tiny crabs from Sant’Antioco island, succulent octopus and tangy prawns). To finish, try the house mirto liqueur, made with co-owner Massimiliano’s hand-foraged myrtle berries.
Get back to nature with a slap-up meal at this agriturismo on the west coast. It offers Sardinian food at its simplest, most of which is grown on site. The Minaudo family are Sardinian through and through and passionate about keeping farming traditions alive – hence their regular sessions with school kids on how they do things. The four-course menu, including homemade pasta, changes daily, depending on what’s ripened in the garden.
A Michelin-starred restaurant on the Costa Smeralda, this is as glitzy as Sardinia gets. Chef Italo Bassi is known for his inventiveness – from deer tartare to sea-urchin gelato – with a focus on raw seafood. Madame Confusion – Tatjana Rozenfeld – is the sommelier who’s also responsible for all the art on the walls.
The west coast of the island around Bosa is one of the most spectacular rollercoaster drives around and this is a worthy spot to catch your breath. The pizza is good, but the marinated sardines and zucchini tempura are unmissable.
Even Madonna has been to Su Gologone, in the mountains near Oliena, to escape from the daily grind. The restaurant, set around a huge chimney and filled with traditional rustic furniture, has been drawing in guests for decades thanks to its hyper-traditional cooking techniques. Try the roasted meats – from sausages to kid goat – and add a side of culurgiones dumplings.
Named after armidda, the Sardinian word for wild thyme, this super-traditional trattoria was opened by renowned chef Roberto Serra in 2020. Some of the dishes, including tripe and roast tongue, can be challenging for non-Sardinians, but the quality of food won it the top three “prawns” star rating in the Gambero Rosso guide for 2021.
This lovely restaurant on La Maddalena island, off the Costa Smeralda, has been grilling freshly caught seafood since 1958. Pick from the fish, lobster and sea urchin scooped straight from the sea – literally, as they’re all in the tanks where you can choose the one you want – but don’t miss the aragosta alle sette-otto: an entire lobster, stewed with tomatoes and other veg.
This is an updated version of an article originally by Gillian McGuire.
Looking for somewhere to stay? Book into one of the best hotels in Sardinia for every traveller, or, treat yourself to one of the best luxury hotels on the island. Inspire your itinerary with the top things to see and do in Sardinia, and don’t miss its most beautiful towns. For more food options, book a table at one of the best restaurants and trattorias in Cagliari.
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