The Sardinian’s love of good food is clear when you consider how many food festivals take place throughout the year, from La Festa dei Ricci (sea urchin) in the little town of Buggerru in April, and the Girotonno (tuna) in San Pietro in June, through to the Sagra delle Castagne (chestnut) in Aritzo in October. Due to Covid, some festivals may have been cancelled so, where possible, check here first.
Dishes vary hugely around the island – Alghero is famous for its Catalan lobster, and Sassari for its use of snails and artichokes, though wood-roasted porceddu (suckling pig) and Pecorino cheese are pretty much ubiquitous. Some foods don’t exist anywhere else, like the must-try pompia fruit, which only grows in Nuoro, and the infamous (and now illegal) cazu marzu (wormy cheese).
Rafè Coffee & Shop
In the heart of the Cagliari, Rafè is a great pitstop for anything from breakfast (try the 'special'of bacon and avocado on toast), coffee and a cake, to a full lunch. Within the smart interior you’ll find a selection of local products, from honey to quirky ceramics, but most grab a table on the street-facing terrace. If the hand-made culurgiones (typical filled pasta) are on the menu, don’t hesitate, and if you’re around in the evening, order up a cocktail or crisp glass of Vermentino, and enjoy the complimentary appetisers while watching the world stroll by.
Contact: 00 39 070 753 8032; facebook.com/rafecagliari
Opening times: Mon-Wed, Sat-Sun, 8am-12am; Thur-Fri, 8am-1am
Best table: On the terrace
You’ll smell the delicious wood-fired pizzas well before you happen upon this well-favoured local restaurant. Head for the umbrella-covered terrace that overlooks the sea, and order up one of the metre-long pizzas made with seasonal ingredients. Opt for the 'Balsamica' with smoked ricotta and balsamic, or the 'Carcioffi' with roasted artichoke. In the summer, the Fiori di Zucca (zucchini flowers) is a speciality not to be missed. It’s essential to book in advance for the Catalan paella or lobster, and traditional Sardinian 'porceddu al forno' – suckling pig roasted in the oven.
Reservations: Book if you want one of the specials
Best table: On the terrace overlooking the sea
Ristorante La Nuova Torre
Facing a Saracen tower that overlooks the sea, the no-frills La Nuova Torre is one of the most well-loved restaurants in La Caletta, not least because the food is freshly prepared and the bill is often surprisingly low. The simple family-run restaurant specialises in fresh seafood, and offers a long list of quality wood-fired pizza: the 'tuna and chip' one is remarkably well received. Order decent local wine by the carafe to reduce the bill even further, and try to leave room for the homemade desserts, such as creamy tiramisu, or the fruits of the forest with yoghurt.
Reservations: Book ahead
Best table: On the covered terrace
Agriturismo La Colti
A traditional stazzo (local farmhouse) that serves a wide variety of specialities, including cold cuts, handmade cheeses and Gallurese vegetable soup, most of which are created from the produce of the surrounding farmland. The dishes are many, so don’t overdo any one of them or you won’t have room for desserts, which include the famous seadas (a large 'raviolo' filled with ricotta and drizzled with honey). The highlight is the roast suckling pig, which is spit-roasted on an open wood fire in the courtyard, then served on myrtle leaves.
Best table: Outdoor terrace overlooking the open fire
Blù Restaurant, Gabbiano Azzurro & Suites
Even if you’re not staying here, you can still experience the luxury of Gabbiano Azzurro’s à la carte restaurant. Run by chef Daniele Sechi, the Blù has been awarded an Espresso 'chef’s hat' – one of only six in Sardinia. Making the most of local produce, Sechi creates traditional Sardinian dishes with a modern twist. Don't miss the branzino (sea bass) baked under salt, and black fregola (handmade Sardinian 'couscous' blackened with charcoaled vegetables) served with prawns and asparagus. There are also two sea-view terrace bars that are ideal for sundowners, aperitivi and lunch.
Best tables: Overlooking the sea
The à la carte restaurant at this splendid boutique hotel is exceptional: everything, from the breads to the pastas and cheeses are homemade, and vegetables are harvested from the garden. The restaurant terrace offers wonderful mountains views, and candlelit tables overlook the pool. The suckling pig, spit-roasted over an open fire, is the main highlight, but vegetarians won’t be disappointed with the handmade potato and cheese-stuffed culurgiones. The Magico Tablao bar is perfect for a pre-prandial aperitivo, and most Fridays you’ll get the opportunity to hear typical Sardinian polyphonic folk singing. There are four smaller restaurants for tapas, roasted meats and focaccia.
Best tables: Overlooking the pool; booking essential
Agriturismo su Connottu
What this stone-built agriturismo lacks in size it makes up for in heart. Just outside Sorgono, Su Connottu offers excellent farm-to-table dining, specialising in homemade pasta, and fresh fish and meat from the grill. Own-made wine and grappa are also available. Service is warm and friendly, and look out for the occasional musical evenings.
Contact: 00 39 340 326 1495; facebook.com/agriturismosuconnottu
Opening times: Mon-Sun (closed Thursday), 12:30pm-2pm. Fri-Sat also open 7.30-9pm
Best tables: Outside, overlooking the vineyards
Capo Comino, Nuoro
The location, overlooking the sea and the island of Isola Rossa, is terrific. Before heading to your table, step outside with your camera for an aperitif – your Aperol spritz will probably match the incredible colours of the sunset. The kitchen specialises in local foods, especially fish and seafood, including crayfish caught at nearby La Caletta, mussels from Olbia, and local paranza fish from Capo Comino. Stand-out dishes include the carpaccio of tuna, with fennel and pecorino from Siniscola, and the spaghetti alle vongole (clams).
Best table: By the window with a view of the sea
A five-minute walk from the Museo del Costume, the delightful Monti Blu is a restaurant, bar and shop all in one. With outside tables, it’s ideal for a lunchtime drink with snacks, while tables inside the quirky restaurant (over two floors) are surrounded by a small selection of stylish clothing and artisanal products made by local artists. The menu changes regularly, but the crumbed tuna (succulent and pink) is wonderful, and desserts are dreamy.
Best table: On the square overlooking Costantino Nivola’s giant sculptures