Sardinian cuisine comes from the poor sheepherders whose recipes focus on meat cookery and preserving foods of all kinds. Chivarzu is the name of the large, local bread made by the Sardinian women, while Carasau are the thin sheets of bread that kept men from starving for months. Bread was often served with game or wild pig.
Maialino arrosto is made by spit-roasting a pig over juniper wood. The other popular cooking method is called a caraxiu and requires digging a hole in the ground, placing a grill in the hole, and burying a small pig, sheep, or lamb inside. A wood fire is first started under the meat, and then another is made on top, creating a type of primitive oven.
Merca and Sa Tacculas are two ways to preserve fish or meat after they have been cooked or salted. In either case, the item to be preserved is rolled leaves to form small to-go packages. You will also find excellent sheep’s milk cheeses in Sardinia, like Pecorino Sardo DOP and Fiore Sardo DOP, both of which are aged to varying degrees.
Sardinians are also skilled fishermen. They mainly catch tuna, especially from Carloforte, and mullet. The prized mullet roe is cured to make Bottarga, a regional specialty. The lobsters from Alghero are also excellent.
Traditional home cooking in Sardinian calls for pastas served with rich sauces, like Malloreddus or stuffed with pecorino cheese like Culingiones. Sas panadas or baked stuffed pastry, are also popular. Along the coast, lobster meat and bottarga are often added to the pasta dishes.
During local festivals, you will find a wide variety of sweets made with honey and almonds like Gueffus or Seadas which are made with fresh cheese. The local Amaretti and soft Lady’s finger cookies were brought to the island from Piedmont.
The strong Sardinian wines stand up to the strong flavors of the food. Look for Vernaccia, Cannonau, Malvasia, and Giro. Mirto is a popular Sardinian digestive liquor made from berries.
Best Sardinian Food
Sardinia is the home of Pecorino cheese, made from sheep’s milk. It’s also one of Italy’s oldest cheese, so expect to meet these cheese in various dishes in ravioli, over pasta, in a grilled sandwich and even in dessert.
This bread is specific in Sardinia and is the classic foundation to any starter. This bread is crispy, eafer-thin light and is attributed to an ancient shepherd recipe. Pane Carasau is served with meats and cheese on an antipasto spread.
Fregola are tiny pearls of pasta, similar with cous cous, but a much softer texture and consistency. Often these are served with seafood, or tomato sauce with fresh pecorino.
Charcuterie is a cross between salami and sausage. As well as standard Italian cured pork, charcuterie is like pancetta, prosciutto and lonza. It’s usually a combination of lean and fat pork seasoned with fennel, anise and pepper and stuffed into intestines that have been dipped in wine or vinegar.
Prosciutto di Pecorino
This typical Sardinian cured meat made from mutton is produced from the best breed of Sardinian sheep’s legs. The whole ham is recognizable by its elongated pear shape and strong but sweet flavor.
If you want to try something different during your holiday in Sardinia, you should try sea urchins. In fact, sea urchins are so popular here, there are even sea urchin festivals held across the island, the most famous taking place in Alghero.
This is Sardinia’s famous pasta shape, and many first courses comprise this ‘bowl-like’ concoction. The pasta is made from semolina and saffron and is shaped in its distinctive style in order to catch sauce and grated cheese within dishes.
What to Drink in Sardinia
Now you know what to eat in Sardinia and you’re truly ready to leave for your holiday. But, once you’re there try these dishes with typical wines of Sardinia, like the Cannonau, or the flavor won’t be the same.
If you want to try a white wine we recommend you to try Vermentino di Gallura, a wonderful transparent-to-pale straw-colored white wine. You can pair well with local seafood dishes and regional specialties such as seafood pasta and carasau bread.
The #1 wine of Sardinia, Cannonau is a red wine and the most planted variety by far. This wine pours a deep bright red colour, a dry velvety taste and an intense aroma with hints of forest floor and red fruits. It is excellent with roasted meat or game dishes and it accompanies perfectly typical Sardinian cheeses.
One of the hidden gems in Alghero is Torbato – is one of the hidden gems in Alghero, a grape originally from Spain with only about 200 acres left in the world. Torbato is a pale-straw wine marked by white flowers and it accompanies with light fish appetizers, oysters, and clam spaghetti.
Semidano is an elegant white wine with hints of white flowers and hay, perfect to combine with local medium-aged pecorino.
The myrtle liqueur(Mirto) in Sardinia is synonymous with tradition, here its consumption does not depend on the season, you drink in the summer (almost certainly frozen!) as well as in winter. This liqueur is made from the berries of the flowering Mirto (or Myrtle) plant, a distinctive plant that grows throughout the Mediterranean basin.
You can find this traditional drink in restaurants, served at the end of the meal, or is offered in many Sardinian homes.
Best restaurants in Sardinia
Every vacation has its flavors, and the Sardinian ones are not to miss. Make sure you taste the delicious meals and drinking a glass of Connonau wine. You should know that the Sardinian cuisine is one of the most varied and fascinating of any Italian region. From rustic places to fancy restaurants, we made a list with the best restaurants in Sardinia where you can enjoy a delicious meal with your family. Here are the best 5 options where you will find great Sardinian food and wines. Let’s see!
This restaurant mixes traditional Sardinian cuisine with that of Liguria, the mainland region from which the owners hail. It’s gathered increasing plaudits in recent months for its inventive, modern approach. The menu includes the signature dish of Genoa, trenette al pesto, also the fresh sea bream and tuna mains, and such calorie-rich desserts as zabaglione and tiramisu, all elegantly presented. The wine list takes in all the top Sardinian labels.
Address: just steps from Olbia’s train station and main drag
Prices: you’ll spend €40–50 a head here for a three-course meal, wine and coffee
Opening times: daily, 12.30pm–2pm and 7.30pm–10.30pm; July to mid-September open evenings only, 7pm–11pm
Reservations: essential in summer, and at weekends for the rest of the year
Payment type: Cards accepted
- I Frati Rossi
This is the top dining spot on the Costa Smeralda, located a mile or so inland of Porto Cervo. There’s a breathtaking panorama of the coast from the broad veranda. The menu offers such feasts as aragosta alla catalana, the local lobster dish, and as a dessert the “three-chocolate symphony” or the ricotta ice cream. There’s an impressive wine list too.
Address: Località Pantogia, 22km from Olbia
Prices: main courses from €18; a three-course meal will be around €40, plus drinks
Opening times: Tuesday–Saturday, 12.30pm–2.30pm and 7.30pm–10.30pm; Sunday- 12.30pm–3pm, but from July to mid-September it is opened daily.
Reservations: essential in summer and at weekends for the rest of the year
Payment type: cards accepted
- Antica Trattoria
This restaurant is considered to be a sweet little place, with a very friendly atmosphere, where you can serve a generous buffet of antipasti. The fresh pastas, such as gnocchi galluresi, are very popular here, and there is a variety of pizzas that you can taste each evening. The courtyard garden is open in summer for dining al fresco.
Address: Olbia center
Prices: set-price menus are €15–€25
Opening times: Tuesday–Sunday, 12.30pm–2.30pm; 7.30pm–11pm
Reservations: not usually necessary
Payment type: cards accepted
Al Vecchio Mulino
Backstreet trattoria in the heart of the Alghero old town, low-vaulted and atmospheric. Come here for the freshest fish or the house speciality, spaghetti al Vecchio Mulino, made with mushrooms, tomatoes, ham and cream. Pizzas are available too.
Address: Via Don Deroma 3
Prices: main courses are around €10-25
Opening times: Wed–Mon, 6.30pm–11.30pm, but mid-June to mid-September open daily
Reservations: advised at winter weekends and in the summer months
Payment type: cards accepted
- Il Ghiotto
Ideal for either a low-cost lunch stop or a full evening meal, this restaurant offers a wide-ranging tavola calda (a buffet of hot and cold items, including pasta, meat and seafood) by day, and a complete menu in the evening. You can also choose takeaway items from the local specialties – fine wines, liqueurs, cheese or the local carasau bread.
Address: Piazza Civica, Alghero
Prices: pastas and snacks are €5–10, dinner mains from €12
Opening times: 7.30am–10pm, closes around midnight in summer.
Reservations: not needed
Payment type: cards accepted
With one of the strongest gastronomic identities among all the Italian regions, Sardinia has cultural influences from all over: Phoenicians, Arabs and Spanish, all of these left a bit of their influence on Sardinian food today. Meat, cheese, beans, and pasta are the historical staples of a Sardinian diet, mixed with Mediterranean influences such as myrtle and saffron. The result is, of course, delicious! We hope that you are ready to visit Sardinia for a fantastic and tasteful experience. We are waiting for you!