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How to eat well in Sardinia

I know that there are plenty of food-loving (or should I say greedy) folk out there, as any time I’ve written something on food I get lots of Yum Yum comments. So I thought I’d give you the low down on what we ate in Sardinia, remembering that Sardinia is actually a province of Italy, so this is also about eating Italian in general.

Before I went to Rome earlier this year, I have to admit I didn’t really get it about eating out in Italy. What I couldn’t work out is how you could stuff yourself with all those courses – I mean antipasto, then pasta, then a full main course! If I was at home a plate of pasta would be plenty.

Eating out in Sardinia

Eating out in Sardinia

But then I realised that;

1. Italians, don’t eat all courses on the menu anyway – just like you they can mix and match.

2. The fish or meat course will often be very plain – a piece of meat or fish with a lightest of salad garnish on the side.

3. This means that where we in the UK would have meat & three veg on one plate, in Italy you could fill up on your pasta and still have room for the meat or fish and a salad.

4. Italians take longer to savour their meal, they chat, argue, talk politics, especially if they’re out in a restaurant with the extended family at the weekend. So all those courses are just a way of prolonging the pleasure of the food and being together.

5. If you’re used to a fast food culture you may find the service unbelievably slow in Sardinia. You need to take a deep breath and remember it’s partly because they don’t want to ruin your enjoyment by rushing you and partly because with Mama in the kitchen and Papa at front of house they are probably massively understaffed.

Antipasto in Sardinia

Antipasto in Sardinia

So back to the things we enjoyed in Sardinia, bearing in mind that my children are not the most adventurous of eaters. Well, the mixed antipasto plates went down well, usually with some olives, air-dried ham, salami and other bits and pieces which were familiar.

And in Sardinia you always get a basket of the local crispy wafer bread called Pane Carrasau to nibble on.

Pane carasau in Sardinia

Pane carasau in Sardinia

Then the pizzas were a favourite, and most restaurants with traditional style cooking seem to have a pizza oven as well. In fact there was even one in our campsite where they put on whatever toppings you wanted, to eat in their cafe or to take away.

Pizza in Sardinia

Pizza in Sardinia

As grown-ups we were a bit more adventurous and often started with a pasta dish, especially home-made ravioli, followed by some meat or fish. On the coast, you will find many seafood specialities and if you’re not sure of what to choose, almost every restaurant will have a mixed seafood platter.

Fish platter in Sardinia

Fish platter in Sardinia

As you move inland, into the mountainous region the menu is more geared to meat. I tried a dish in red wine which I think was rabbit but couldn’t be quite sure, which was served just on it’s own. My husband and son tried a mixed plate of grilled meat, which kept the carnivores happy. It’s all washed down with the local fruity red Cannonau wine.

Dish in red wine in Sardinia

Dish in red wine in Sardinia

Mixed plate of grilled meat

Mixed plate of grilled meat in Sardinia

The Italians don’t really go in for puddings, but if you’re in town you can wander across to the local gelataria to choose as many different flavoured scoops as you have room for, sometimes with a squirt of cream on top for extra holiday indulgence.

Gelato in Sardinia

Gelato in Sardinia

One of the Sardinian pudding specialities that I did try is called Sebada. It’s two circles of pastry enclosing a filling of soft cheese then deep fried, and covered with honey. It sounded just the thing for a sweet-toothed girl like me, but when I tried it it was filled with Mozzarella cheese. You know the way that Mozzarella cheese goes stringy and rubbery as it cools? Well this Sebada was really unpleasant and I couldn’t finish it even though I love all cakes and pastries. I think it would have been nice with soft cheese, so I would still try it again.

Generally the food we ate in Sardinia was pleasant but I wouldn’t rave about it. I laughed with disbelief once when I ordered a Radicchio salad and just got a small bowl of plain radicchio lettuce leaves with no dressing or accompaniment. For that salad I paid the same price as a pizza. And the service was universally, painfully, teeth-grindingly slow.

But if you stick to the pizza, pasta and local meat or fish specialities you will manage to eat well and inexpensively. Oh, and don’t forget to bring back some Mirto jam or liqueur made from the ubiquitous Myrtle berry, which is the national plant of Sardinia.

You can see my Sardinia photos on flickr here.

Looking for a hotel near Cala Gonone in Sardinia? Compare prices and book through Hotels Combined

More Sardinia articles to enjoy

The museum of costume in Nuoro
Bandits and murals at Orgosolo in Sardinia
Sea caves and a boat trip in Sardinia

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8 Comments

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Marion
    June 26, 2009 at 11:11 am

    Nice blog post Heather! Where did you take those pictures? What is the name of the restaurant? I’m planning a trip to Sardinia and would like to know where to eat the best local food on the island. Thanks.

  • Reply
    Heather Cowper
    June 26, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    Hi Marion

    Most of those photos are from the meal we had at the small hotel of Sant’Elene just outside the town of Dorgoli in Eastern Sardinia. If you’re in that area, I recommend it for an evening meal on the terrace which has a fantastic view over the valley and it’s very popular for local specialities as well as Pizza. Great for a rather special meal & popular with Sardinian families.

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  • Reply
    Christine
    March 19, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Hi

    Is it possible for you to tell me how much a basic meal for 2 would cost in Sardinia
    Thanks

  • Reply
    Heather Cowper
    March 20, 2010 at 9:22 am

    @ Christine – if you take a look at the menu for the popular family style restaurant at Co-op Ennis where we stayed, it will give you an idea of prices. Of course it all depends onthe exchange rate with the Europe whether you find it expensive or not. http://www.coopenis.it/inglese/home.htm

  • Reply
    Biscuits in Nuoro Sardinia | Heather on her travels
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