Sardinia is a captivating island of rugged beauty, with a spectacular coastline and crystal clear seas, up to the mountains that make it so wild.
This beautiful scenery makes the island not only perfect for holiday makers, but it’s also where the unique food of Sardinia comes from. Here you can forget about the pizzas that mark a holiday in mainland Italy – the food to be had is fresh, rich seafood and succulent slow-roasted suckling pig.
In the north-westerly corner of the island lies Alghero. The smallest of the island’s three larger towns, this is a gem of a place, easily accessible by plane to the tiny airport on its outskirts. The area that Alghero lies in has been populated since prehistoric times and the majority of its buildings are of Catalan origin, giving the place a peculiarly Spanish look.
Although not the reason Sardinia has its name, the island is surrounded by a bountiful supply of some of the Mediterranean’s finest sardines and no trip to Sardinia would be complete without sampling some of the many simple dishes made from these.
You’d be hard pressed to find a better lunch than at Ristorante Mirador. Situated on the ramparts of the wall surrounding the town and with views stretching across the sea, it would be easy to spend a whole day here. Offering a set lunch menu each day, usually featuring fresh pasta with sardines, this is a great way to settle into the peaceful pace of life in Alghero.
There are few places in the world that have better lobsters than those in the waters of Sardinia. Most restaurants in Alghero offer a set seafood menu for a multitude of shared starters, a pasta course, fish course, dessert and, of course, a bottle of the local wine. Not to be missed is the lobster pasta. Fresh pasta is served in generous portions of a rich lobster and tomato sauce. This is served with half a lobster each so hungry diner can pull out the soft meat and pile up their plates. In a quiet square in the old town of Alghero is situated La Posada del Mar, which serves up a menu of fresh seafood cooked to perfection. Get here early to grab a table, and take advantage of the peaceful surrounds, friendly service and exquisite food. Don’t miss their set menu. Remember, this place fills up fast so book if you intend to head over later or at the weekend.
No article on the joys of Sardinian cuisine would be complete without a sizeable mention of the island’s suckling pig. Here is where the mountainous terrain comes into its own and this rich, meaty fare makes a nice contrast to the lighter flavours of the seafood. The pigs are slow roasted whole until the meat falls apart and the crackling is crisp and flavoursome. Typically served with small cubed potatoes, it’s a dish not to miss. Alghero can be a little hit and miss on this, but, as a rule of thumb, anywhere you have to book a table in advance will do this very well. Avoid anywhere with this on the menu that isn’t already packed to the rafters.
Nothing washes down the food of Sardinia quite as well as the local wines. They are uniformly excellent and feature heavily on the menus of almost every restaurant. Make sure you try them for the authentic Sardi experience, and round up your evening with a glass of Mirto, a strong, sweet spirit made from the local myrtle berries infused with alcohol and honey.
WORDS: BETHAN FORBES
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