Sardinia is certainly a land with a very strong identity and culture. Located in the heart of the Tyrrhenian Sea, a region that features Caribbean like beaches, glamorous resorts, raw landscapes and a very “intense” gastronomic heritage. Definitely a land of strong flavours.
I therefore decided to head there as I thought it would be the perfect place where to combine work and leisure as I had not been there in a couple of years.
I based myself in the north east of the island in the Costa Smeralda known for being the playground for the rich and famous during summer.
But that is not what I was looking for. Sure, I could have told you about gigantic yachts cruising around Porto Cervo including a massive 167 meter which was beyond anything I had even seen before or the site inspections of some of the most exclusive villas in the Mediterranean, but what really fascinated me about this region of Sardinia was that rawness in the flavours of the food and landscapes.
I wanted to tell you about a place that for me truly captures the meaning of what this region of Sardinia is all about. Approximately 40 minutes from the coastline in the mainland of Arzachena, there is this incredible Sardinian Agriturismo located high up on these rocky and aggressive hills. If you decide to be there around 8.30 you will be rewarded with a breathtaking view, as on a clear day you will actually be able to see Corsica from Sardinia at sunset. I must say it’s quite a drive if you are coming from Costa Smeralda, but I can safely tell you that the food is so good that you would actually consider walking there.
A family run business that serves all the classic dishes of this part of the region called Gallura. Around 8 starters, 2 types of pasta and 2 meaty mains can give you an idea of how you will feel by the end of the meal. If that was not enough the desert they serve here is Seadas, basically a big deep fried Raviolo filled with fresh pecorino drizzled with delicious honey on top. Of course, why bother serving something light after… a very small Sardinian meal!
I can safely say that this is one of the best trattoria style restaurants that I have ever been to. One of the top places I always recommend to my clients. Where to start? Their fried stuffed vegetables, so simple yet with an unimaginable flavour profile, the Zuppa Gallurese, a sort of a local lasagne where the pasta sheets are replaced by bread soaked in tasty stock with copious amount of local cheese on top and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Or perhaps the most famous Sardinian dish, Porcetto (whole roasted piglet) which here is cooked to absolute perfection, tender and moist with a crunchy crackling. I could go on and on talking about their delicious homemade dried meets or their sublime gnocchi with tomato and sausage ragout and even their homemade red wine which they serve in generous jugs which help create a convivial and relaxed atmosphere. But what for me stole the show here was Mazza Frissa. Its fresh local, Sardinian cream mixed with Semolina flower and water all gently cooked together. The consistency and looks are a bit like incredibly buttery and soft mashed potatoes, the taste is just indescribable. Let’s put it this way, if you are a cream lover, you found your soul mate!
Remember me saying the food was so good that you would actually walk there? Well you will definitely need to walk back if you want to make sure you digest everything and have a good night sleep, no matter how many shots of a local myrtle liqueur called Mirto you had!
Written by Filippo di Lenardo
Founder of Elite RetrEat Italia