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Sardinia, Italy: Fine Dining in Alghero!
Gorgeous View of the Sea from Pedramare
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We all need one at some point. Being two busy professionals in the tourism industry, it's not easy getting time off sometimes. Luckily, my husband and I have very cool employers that granted us each a few days to enjoy ourselves. Never having visited the island of Sardegna (Sardinia in English), we decided to spend three nights in Alghero. Actually, we chose a very secluded and tranquil B&B outside of the bustling city center called Arcamyrtus. This charming and immaculately clean property is nestled in lots of vegetation and boasts a view of the sea. Check out the review I wrote on Trip Advisor (see below).
Since Sardegna has a varied and rich history that spans back to the Phoenicians, ancient Greeks and Romans, the architecture, artisan work and (of course) the food has been influenced by many cultures. One would think that an island would mainly sustain itself with seafood, yet in Sardegna lamb, goat, rabbit and suckling pig are common dishes. Contrary to what you read in guidebooks, paella is NOT a traditional dish in Alghero, despite its Catalan roots (besides, paella is from Valencia). This should not deter you from eating plenty of seafood since it is fresh and local when in season.
Our B&B hosts kindly told us about a restaurant that had an amazing view and offered top quality food at a reasonable price. Off we went to the beach for a swim and then we drove into the hills to Pedramare. The view from our table was perhaps one of the most impressive I have ever enjoyed during a meal. Since the restaurant is the ONLY building in the area, there is nothing but the landscape and the sea. It was silent, peaceful and the perfect setting for a very good meal.
We were warmly greeted by Silvia, an attractive young woman who is one of the proprietors, and shown to our table. We sipped a local Brut and munched on crunchy Sardinian flat bread while we waited for our first course, which was a typical Sardinian pasta and mussels with savory saffron sauce. The pasta was so tiny and had a resistant bite, much like a risotto. Delicious. My husband ordered a nice bottle of Funtanaliras (a local white wine with fruitty notes), which complimented our seafood dishes.
For second courses, we ordered Grilled Squid on a bed of wild rucola and cherry tomatoes. The flesh was seared and slightly blackened on the outside, giving off a nice crunch and tang, while the inside was tender and sweet. We also ordered fillet of Branzino (Mediterranean Sea Bass), served with a compote of zucchini and carrots in the center and topped with a saffron sauce and roe. Very nice presentation and the flavors blended well together. The saffron added a delightful extra touch.
For dessert we shared the traditional Sardinian Seadas, which is a fried pastry filled with Peccorino dolce. Drizzled on top was Aranzada made by Silvia's mother. Aranzada is a compote of orange skins and honey making the combination sweet and pleasantly bitter at the same time. Eaten with the seada, it's perfect.
The final bill for 2 cocktails, 1 primo, 2 secondi, dessert and a bottle of wine: 62,00 euros- believe me, in Italy for that quality (and that amazing view) one would pay so much more. We were both very surprised (and happy).
Of course, when on vacation, one cannot dine in such splendor at every meal. Sometimes a picnic on the beach is in order and once again, our B&B hosts gave us a stellar recommendation, telling us that Bar Focacceria Milese made the best panini on the island. We went in search of this place and we were not disappointed. We got two big panini of crusty filled with fresh ingredients and only 2,50 euro each! I had to mention this place, especially since the day before we paid much more for a little "so-so" sandwich at a beach snack bar. foccacia
If you do get a chance to go to Sardegna, I recommend the west coast since it tends to have less crowds. Definitely rent a car and drive to the beach in Stintino (simply divine, with crystal clear water). Also bring a snorkel mask if you can. We only scratched the surface of this wonderful island- it's so big that we would need much more time to see everything. Here is the information on the above-mentioned eateries:
Bar Focacceria Milese: www.barmilese.it
Trip Advisor review & photos of Arcamyrtus: http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g187880-d1813540-r115612987-Arcamyrtus_Holiday_Country_House-Alghero_Sardinia.html
As always, thank you for reading!
C. De Melo
Author & Artist