Sardinia is known for its transparent and crystalline sea. Kilometres of coastline bathed by waters ranging from emerald green to intense blue. Nature is uncontaminated and offers scenarios of rare beauty. But Sardinia also has a long culinary tradition, made up of ancient flavours and aromas.
Sardinians are passionate about food, each town will have a handful of great restaurants (Tip: Make sure you eat where the locals go to eat) However, if you are looking for the very best restaurants in Sardinia then you will need to go to the regions of Oristano, Cagliari, or Nuoro.
Its typical recipes are the perfect combination of all the different cultures that have left their mark on the island, century after century. Many restaurants offer typical dishes that reveal the true identity of a Sardinia made of high-quality raw materials and local excellence. But also a reinterpretation of the island’s traditional dishes, re-proposed in a contemporary way. All restaurants obviously specialize in very fresh fish dishes, but there is no shortage of surprises when it comes to meat. The sheep, above all, but also the “porceddu”, the suckling pig, weighing less than five kilos or a maximum of twenty days, cooked for several hours, demonstrating that the traditions are still alive in the cuisine of this ancient land.
Discovering the island from a culinary point of view is therefore also a way to get to know one of the most important faces of Sardinia.
So here are the best restaurants on the island:
Su Carduleu – Via Sant’ Agostino, 1 – Abbasanta (Oristano)
Su Carduleu is the chef Roberto Serra’s restaurant, who after the hotel school in Arzachena and the seasons in the great hotels of the Costa Smeralda and other important places, returned to Abbasanta in 2012 to lead the family restaurant. Serra uses strictly Sardinian products for a contemporary Sardinian cuisine, which takes its cues from traditional recipes and then revisits them and studies simple and genuine combinations. On the menu there are mainly meat dishes, representative of the area, but there is no shortage of fish proposals. Here you will find the traditional Sardinian pig; “Su crivazzu”, a typical bread of Abbasanta, baked in the oven and seasoned with oil and salt; “Su casu e crabittu”, a cheese aged in goat’s stomach and potato cream with free-range chicken egg and Laconi truffle.
La Locanda dei Buoni e Cattivi – Via Vittorio Veneto, 96 – Cagliari
The restaurant is located in a quiet semi-central district of Cagliari, housed in a beautiful villa with a garden and has a large terrace open for sunny days. The restaurant follows a job reintegration project to give a second chance to people in difficulty. Based on the rediscovery of traditional flavours, the Locanda dei Buoni e Cattivi offers creative cuisine that combines quality, simplicity and authenticity. A cuisine based on local products of the highest quality with menus that follow the rhythm of the seasons and traditional reinterpreted recipes. Among the dishes offered: Trofie of fresh pasta served with rabbit ragout with chopped vegetables, scented with lemon; fresh pasta lasagna with bechamel, zucchini and pecorino cheese; risotto with lettuce and ginger pesto with mussels and bottarga.
Su Tzilleri e Su Doge – Via Santa Croce, 17 – Cagliari
Typical trattoria in Cagliari, Su Tzilleri and Su Doge was born from the union of the traditions and flavours of two extraordinary regions, linked by the mountains and the sea, by the agro-pastoral and seafaring culture: Sardinia and Veneto, with the menu based of fish and meat. Claudio Ara, owner and chef, restores their authentic and original flavour to the original dishes. There is no lack of modernity, which is perceived in the unusual combinations and reinterpretations of classic dishes. Among the dishes to taste: Linguine with Teulada prawns and mushrooms; sardines in “saor”; fried vegetables in batter, squid and shrimp; liver Venetian style; the lamb. Do not miss the panna cotta with goat milk, tiramisu and egg pudding.
Santa Rughe – Via Carlo Felice, 2 – Gavoi (Nuoro)
Santa Rughe is an old trattoria in the heart of the most evocative town of Barbagia. The environment is warm and very welcoming, also equipped with outdoor tables where you can eat in the summer. It offers a rustic setting where it is possible to rediscover the authentic flavours of local cuisine enhanced by the quality of the ingredients. The cuisine is traditional and based on fish; offers homemade pasta, typical local specialities based on Sardinian pecorino and guarantees a careful selection of the best local products. Among the typical dishes, we find: The “erbuzzu”, a soup with 17 wild herbs; the ricotta ravioli; the “frattau” bread; the typical cheeses of the area; the “sebada”, fried ravioli garnished with honey. It also has a good wine cellar, with a careful selection of about 150 regional and national labels.
Il Portico – Via Mons. Bua, 13 – Nuoro
The cuisine is typical Sardinian. Il Portico offers a completely original menu, based mainly on a wide selection of seafood specialities, with good dishes from the land and also an all-vegetarian menu. We go from spaghetti with lobster and fregola soup to swordfish rolls and lamb sweetbreads with mushrooms; from smoked salmon with rocket, green apple and goat cheese to meat with pecorino cheese and sweet and sour onion. And also the grilled fillet of beef with radicchio and Cannonau wine sauce. Among the first courses: spaghetti with garlic, oil, chilli pepper creamed with oysters, sea urchins and bottarga; Paccheri pasta with crab sauce; cheese ravioli with aubergine sauce with thyme and ricotta.
Il Rifugio – via A. Mereu, 28 – Nuoro
This Trattoria-pizzeria has been in business for a long time, in a 1950s building in the city centre. The cuisine is attentive to seasonal ingredients and their authenticity, as well as to the tradition of the territory. The menu ranges from assorted seafood and land appetizers, passing through the “culurgiones” with orange peel, almonds and bacon, up to the more classic grilled meat and fish. And again: “Maccarrones de Poddighe”, pasta dipped in tomato sauce with meatballs; Linguine with lobster; “Frattau” bread with egg; tuna on cream of potatoes and peppers and Cannonau wine sauce. All the pasta is strictly handmade. For desserts, the parfait with orange honey and pecorino cheese, accompanied by “Abbamele”, an ancient Sardinian preparation that involves the reduction by boiling a mixture of honey and oranges.
Antica dimora del Gruccione – Via Michele Obinu, 31 – Santu Lussurgiu (Oristano)
The Antica Dimora del Gruccione is located in a large patrician house, entirely in stone, structured with arches and vaults, located in Santu Lussurgiu, a small town of medieval origin at 503 meters high, rich in history, culture, crafts and folklore. The kitchen offers a modern version of seasonal dishes according to the Sardinian tradition. The menu consists of five courses (two appetizers, the first course, the second one and the dessert) which changes daily, characterized by the season and the availability of the products. To taste the local cow’s cheese “casizolu” and the meat of the so-called Red Ox. Among the specialities: the wild fennel soup; Red Ox meat ravioli with vegetable ragout; the baskets of “casizolu” with pasta with kid sauce; the “ghisadu” of sheep.
Sas Benas – piazza S. Giovanni – Santu Lussurgiu (Oristano)
The Sas Benas Restaurant, located in the historic centre of Santu Lussurgiu, in the eighteenth-century Maicu House, is a welcoming and rustic environment, with stone arches and vaults and divided into four rooms. The cuisine is traditional and offers typical Sardinian dishes based on selected meats. Traditional dishes and in particular the genuine flavours of the food are the basis of the restaurant’s philosophy. The intent is to enhance the resources of the place and in particular to promote the typical foods that characterize the town. Pasta with sausage and aubergine sauce, “casizolu” cheese and “red ox” are just some of the specialities of Sas Benas. On the menu, we also find meat with porcini mushrooms and grilled meats. The cellar is also well-stocked, with a selection of exclusively regional wines.