Italian Food At Its Best

When you’re taking a trip to Italy, what’s the most delicious traditional dish you should try? Pizza? Pasta? Anti-pasta? Not if you’re on holiday in Sardinia, where dinner plates are just as likely to feature goat cheese as our old pal mozzarella. This shouldn’t be surprising as Sardinia is situated right in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, where the diets are, well, Mediterranean. This means that along with all of the dishes we think of as being traditionally Italian, there are also plenty of simple but rich and fresh foods full of nutrients and flavor and culled right from the farm or sea.

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Island Life

Not surprisingly for an island nation, seafood is a regular staple of the diet here with everything from lobster to sea urchins paired with fresh vegetable soup and potatoes. From the first week of September through the end of October, be on the lookout for bottargo – salted and dried mullet or tuna eggs, used either as an appetizer or to season pasta. If you’re launching your trip from the capital city of Cagliari, the Ristorante Dal Corsaro will make a great introduction to the seafood scene, with such unique treats as scorpion fish and roast cuttlefish on the menu. How’s that for starting your trip off with a bang!

The best way to plan a seafood tour is to drive around the outside of the island, sticking right to the coast and hitting the little towns of Stintino, Castelsardo, Alghero, Bosa and Oristano – all known for their traditional ocean-inspired dishes. If you’re a mussel fan, you absolutely must head up the eastern coast to Olbia, where the fish farms date back to antiquity. Further along the coast you will find world-class shell fish, sea anemone and limoni di mare (sea lemons) in Santa Teresa di Gallura.

While many local restaurants will be a treat for your taste buds, no stop to Alghero woud be complete without a visit to Ristorante Al Tuguri, located in an old Catalan house and featuring fish and other Mediterranean dishes for around 40 euro per person.

Sardinia also has a rich agricultural and shepherding culture, meaning many not-to-be-missed meals feature meats, cheeses, bread and wine. For an introduction to traditional inland delicacies and some beautiful views to boot, travel to Oliena in the Supramonte Mountains and seek out the famous Ristorante Su Gologne. Here you’ll find more roasted meats and savory breads than you’ll know what to do with. Make sure to try the pane carasau, a traditional wafer-thin shepherd’s bread, and to slather it with just one of the many cheeses the region has been producing for the past 5000 years.

Sardinian Wine

Though little known outside of Italy, Sardinian wines can keep up with the best of them. Each region has its specialty, so make sure you’re acquainted with each one ahead of time. Travel to Alghero to try Sella e Mosca, to Bosa for the sweet Malvasia, to Gallura for a refreshing glass of Vermentino, or to Oliena for the full-bodied Nepente. Even if you’re not a wine aficionado, at least you’ll have a perfect excuse for scarfing more cheese!

Prices at these restaurants range from so cheap even a backpacker could afford the whole menu to so expensive you’d need to travel back in time and become the ruler of a thriving empire to cover the bill. But hey, you’re on vacation! With so many unique