The very first thing to find out about touring to Sardinia is that one journey is just not going to chop it. Guests are likely to underestimate how a lot there may be to absorb on this 9,300-square-mile island simply west of the Italian peninsula. It’s a sweeping, rugged land of untamed prickly pears and myrtle bushes set in opposition to sensible blue backdrops, tough roads with even rougher signage, and folks as welcoming because the Mediterranean. After which there’s the meals. Distinct from Italian cooking, the Sardinian culinary canon is huge, with regional types that modify by panorama. Within the mountains and inland areas, meals revolve round meat and cheese; alongside the coasts and on the smaller peripheral islands, it’s all about seafood — oceanic delicacies like mullet bottarga in Cabras or tuna ventresca in Carloforte.
Briefly, unimaginable consuming is in every single place right here. What you gained’t discover a lot of, nevertheless, are English-language menus (that’s a superb factor). Right here, then, we’ve compiled a listing of Sardinia’s staple dishes, which ought to assist information you thru the fundamentals. So far as tasting all of them throughout your doubtlessly far-too-short go to? For that, you’re by yourself.
Excellent for breakfast, although totally acceptable any time of day, these small pies are stuffed with a mixture of ricotta, saffron, and lemon, sure by a skinny collar of crisp puff pastry. Initially an Easter dessert, they’re now discovered year-round at nearly any native bakery. Maintain a watch out for an equally tasty variation referred to as casadinas, made with younger pecorino sardo as an alternative of ricotta. The place to get it: Biscottificio Collu, San Sperate (additionally obtainable at native grocery shops).
Fregula is a singular number of Sardinian pasta that’s just like couscous and historically made by hand utilizing a type of sieve, referred to as a canistedda, which divides the dough into small pellets. The preparation is just like risotto, and also you’ll most frequently discover it heaped with small flavorful Sardinian clams and just a little (or massive) sprinkle of bottarga to complete. Pair it with a glass of nuragus or vermentino. The place to get it: Sa Cardiga e Su Schironi
Sardinia has a protracted custom of cooking snails, particularly within the North space across the third-largest metropolis of Sassari, the place the delicacies is impressed by the countryside. Right here you’ll discover snails ready plenty of other ways, mostly simmered with a spicy tomato sauce or sauteed with oil, garlic, parsley, and breadcrumbs. The place to get it: Le Due Lanterne, Sassari
Suppa Cuata (Gallurese soup)
Stale bread is the important thing ingredient for this native dish, which, regardless of the title, seems much more like lasagna than soup. Slices of stale bread are layered with lamb broth and recent cow’s milk cheese referred to as casizolu, then completed with grated pecorino. The place to get it: Il Purgatorio, Tempio.
Roasted suckling pig (Porcetto arrosto)
Sardinian delicacies options many dishes that hinge on the island’s pastoral custom. Shepherds would roast a small suckling pig in an earthen pit piled with wild-growing aromatics like myrtle and rosemary, however nowadays, it’s extra common to arrange the pig spit-roasted for about seven hours to melt the meat and crisp the pores and skin. As soon as roasted, it’s coated with myrtle leaves and served barely heat or at room temperature. The place to get it: Su Gologone, Oliena.
Malloreddus alla campidanese
With roots within the south and central elements of the island, this petite pasta made with durum wheat semolina flour, water, salt, and a pinch of saffron is typically referred to as Sardinian gnocchi due to its form (I suppose they appear extra like cavatelli, although). Malloreddus normally comes tossed in a slow-cooked ragu of pork sausages, tomatoes, and a heap of grated pecorino sardo. The place to get it: Ristorante Italia, Cagliari.
Seadas (or sebadas)
When is time for dessert, order this big, deep-fried semolina dumpling stuffed with recent bitter pecorino cheese and lemon zest, historically served with bitter miele amaro (often known as corbezzolo, or arbutus’ honey). The place to get it: Pastificio Vito Arra, Lanusei
The Catalan affect on Sardinia (significantly the Northwestern space of Alghero) might be seen within the reputation of lobster stew, which can be a traditional in that area of Spain. They hold it easy right here: Feminine lobsters, full with their crimson roe, are shortly steamed after which served with a sauce of tomato and onions and a fast emulsion of olive oil, lemon, and black pepper. The place to get it: La Lepanto, Alghero
The standard ultrathin, crispy bread is a specialty of the island’s mountainous space. It’s made (historically by girls) with onerous wheat bran, water, salt, and yeast and will get double-baked at super-high temperatures (840 or 900 levels Fahrenheit). Throughout the first stage of the preparation, the bread puffs up like a balloon and is minimize into a number of delicate disks; then, it’s baked once more. Pane Guttiau is a model seasoned with native olive oil and salt. The place to get it: Panificio Soru in Ovodda, Azienda Galanu in Orgosolo, or Tundu Carasau in Oliena.
Pecora in cappotto
This mutton stew, made with wealthy broth, wild herbs, and potatoes, is the quintessential dish of the Sardinian islands. The title, which interprets to “sheep in a coat,” is a reference to a pastoral custom of leaving the oldest sheep within the herd unshorn throughout annual sheep-shearing feast. In the present day, mutton is being reclaimed by Sardinian cooks as a delicacy, and also you’ll discover it in fashionable takes on tartare, ragu, and even sheep’s milk ricotta panna cotta. The place to get it: S’Hostera Nugoresa, Nuoro.
These huge, fatty ravioli — stuffed with potatoes, pecorino, and mint — are usually served both in rosso, with a easy crimson sauce, or with butter and Parmigiano. Every pocket is handmade to appear like an artwork piece. They historically hail from the Ogliastra space, however there are lots of barely totally different variations, just like the model from the village of Villagrande that makes use of basil as an alternative of mint. The place to get it: Ovile Bertarelli, Baunei.
Bottarga is a delicacy all through the Mediterranean, and Sardinia isn’t any totally different. Product of dried mullet fish roe, it’s grated over something from pasta (spaghetti with grated bottarga on high is ubiquitous island-wide) to asparagus to uncooked artichokes, or served it by itself, sliced into huge fats chunks and drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil. The place to get it: Ristorante Sa Barracca, Quartu Sant’Elena, or Zia Belledda, Oristano.
Cordula (lamb offal)
Quinto quarto interprets to “the fifth quarter,” and refers to all of the off cuts and offal meats that had been historically prized all through Sardinia. Nowadays, many of those traditional recipes have been slowly disappearing. One which’s undoubtedly value saving? Cordula, or spit-roasted lamb intestines. The meat is slow-cooked for hours to melt the middles and crisp the outside, and consuming along with your fingers is inspired. You’ll additionally discover intestines merely sauteed with recent peas, or in a dish referred to as trattalia, made with coronary heart, lungs, and liver which are spit-roasted and served with sliced bread. The place to get it: Il Rifugio, Nuoro
The primary ingredient in Burrida is gattuccio, a small number of catfish that was traditionally thought-about a low-cost scrap fish. On this humble peasant dish, the fish is marinated in a vinegar-based sauce after which slowly cooked with finely chopped walnuts and the liver of the fish. You’ll largely discover it served as an appetizer within the Sardinian capital metropolis of Cagliari. Barceloneta or Lo Scoglio, Cagliari.
Viviana Devoto is a San Francisco primarily based author and journalist. Initially from Sardinia, she studies about meals and eating places traits for American and Italian publications.