Top 10 Taste Sensations to Leave Your Mouth Watering in Sardinia, Italy

Everyone loves a good nosh, and there is no other place in the world where they do food, as good as they do here, in Sardinia.

The Sardinian natives have for centuries used the land to farm pig, sheep, wild boar and rabbit. Never in my life have I tasted food so fresh and unique, my taste buds scream with happiness every time I take a bite.

If you are planning a trip to Sardinia, I offer one piece of advice: Eat like the locals, enjoy the flavours and uniqueness that only this island can offer.

Top 10 Taste Sensations to Leave Your Mouth Watering in Sardinia, Italy

10.  Horsemeat or cavallo is high in protein, tender, sweet and low in fat. You will find horsemeat on most restaurant menus and in the butcher shop. Horsemeat in Sardinia is as natural as eating a 14 oz beef steak in Texas. Ask for: cavallo.

9. Wild Boar or cinghiale is very popular in Sardinia during the winter months it’s the preferred meal of choice. Wild boar is a lean, close-grained meat and darker than pork. The meat is sweet and has a distinctive nutty flavour. Wild boar is very high in protein and much leaner than pork. There are many different flavours to sample Sardinia’s wild boar: smoked, grilled, salsiccia and in a great stew. Ask for: cinghiale.

8. Pane carasau, carasatu, carasadu and in Italian carta musica is a typical bread from Barbagia in central Sardinia. The basic ingredients of pane carasau are: yeast, salt, water and durum wheat flour. Pane carasau is a thin, light crispy bread and is made for shepherds who used to stay away from home for months at a time. Pane carasau can last up to one year if kept dry. Your bread basket will over flow with this ancient wafer-thin bread, you cannot escape its crunchy wonders. Ask for: pane carasau.

7. Seadas is a local sweet ravioli and served as a dessert. Made from flour, fresh cheese (pecorino being the best choice). It is lightly fried to a golden brown then honey or sugar is drizzled over the top. It’s a rustic and simple dessert that you can find in all corners of the island. This is a must try! The pronunciation or spelling varies from region to region but they will understand what you are trying to say. Ask for: seadas (say-a-das).

6. Culurgiones is a filled pasta dish and is to die for! The pastry is made with flour, eggs, salt and water and the filling is formed by adding finely mashed potatoes, pecornio cheese, animal fats, garlic, extra virgin olive oil and fresh mint leaves then topped with a light tomato sauce. The ingredients used in this recipe have not changed for centuries and for the most part culurgiones are still hand-crafted. Ask for: culurgiones.

5. Pecorino Sardo is cheese made from Sardinian sheep milk and curdled using lamb or kid stomach enzymes! It has a rich flavour which sharpness with age and is used in various ways: grated on top of pasta, consumed in bite size chunks with pane carasau or melted in a toasted panni (my Canadian-Sardinian grilled cheese sandwich invention). Pecorino Sardo has a flavour truly Sardinian, a flavour you won’t find elsewhere. Pair this sharp cheese with one of the island’s Cannonau’s, you will not be disappointed in the islands 5000 years of cheese production. Ask for: pecorino.

4. Mirto is a popular liqueur made from myrtle and come in two distinct flavours: Mirto rosso which is made from the myrtle berries and Mirto bianco which is made from the leaves of the myrtle plant. Mirto is often served as an after dinner digestive and is served chilled. Most restaurants will offer their homemade mirto which is stronger, and better than that of the various popular brands on the island. Ask for: mirto fatto in casa.

3. Gnocchi Sardi is the traditional pasta dish from Sardinia. Their shape is that of a small conch shell, and is made from semolina, water and flavoured with saffron. It’s often accompanied by a slow cooked ragu. Gnocchi sardi tends to be a meat less dish but in some restaurants you may find it cooked with local sausage. Ask for: gnocchi sardi or mallodoreddus.

2. Zuppa Gallurese is a typical traditional plate from the Gallura in the north-west part of Sardinia, it’s the place I now call home. Zuppa Gallurese is like a lasagna but is made with stale flat bread (pane carasau or spianata, like a bread wrap), sheep broth, sheep meat and oodles of pecorino sardo. It’s a traditional wedding dish that is now served all over the island albeit in different variations from region to region. It’s a heavy full carb meal that packs a unique flavour. Ask for: zuppa gallurese.

1. Suckling Pig is the national dish of Sardinia and is often cooked with myrtle branches alongside or under the pig. Traditionally, the piglet is cooked around a large open fire similar to a rotisserie, often taking 4-5 hours to cook. The chef(s) take turns turning the large spits that are sunk into the ground, around the open flames. The result is a crispy, delicious piece of meat. It is generally served at special feasts like weddings or large family gatherings. Most restaurants cook the piglet in a large open flame oven and will serve it as a second course. Ask for: porceddu (por-kayd-du).

BBQ Sardinian Style. Pancetta.

A nice glass of local Sardinian wine would go great paired with any of the dishes above. Click here to read about my favourite Sardinian reds.

See anything you like or don’t? Have you tried some of Sardinia’s finest dishes? Tell me below.

About Jennifer Avventura

Canadian Freelance writer living in Sardinia, Italy. A serial expat who lived in Australia, England and Cayman Islands. She eats Nutella with a spoon and hides under the bed during lightning storms. When she's not out running 6k you will find her sitting at the computer - writing her novel and searching for worldwide waitress work.
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36 Responses to Top 10 Taste Sensations to Leave Your Mouth Watering in Sardinia, Italy

  1. Gian Banchero says:

    I must try the Sardinian kitchen, from photo cookbooks it’s obvious that the food is delicious!! I’m afraid I’ve been too ethnocentric when it comes to my mother’s Sicilian and my father’s Piemontese kitchens much to my detriment!!!… This weekend I promise to make culurgiones for a family event! Thank you…

  2. Angela says:

    Since living in Sardinia, I have put on so much weight. ahah! yes, my taste buds enjoy it :-)
    Could do with a nice cold glass of Mirto to accompany this beautiful hot weather.

  3. sharron fitzatrick says:

    will be in sardinia, a week on sunday, shopping list at the ready to buy all the fab food the island has to offer, can’t wait, and hopefully the sun will shine all the time as well.

  4. Kathryn says:

    So if I make it over to Sardinia I need to stay at least ten days so I can try one a day! Yummy!

  5. Very familiar with all of it…as my father comes from Sardegna…but myself I like the pane carasau and the gnocchi sardi!! :D

  6. Madhu says:

    All except the horsemeat :-) You got me hungry too!

  7. When we visited Sardinia a few years back we had the most delicious suckling pig ever. I felt bad watching that little baby pig turning on the spit but it was just so good.

    And of course the cheese, gnocchi, pan carasau….all fantastic. Lucky you to live there!

    • Ciao Jillian,

      Thank you for visiting, and commenting! :) I too feel at odds when watching an animal roasting over an open fire, but I have to remind myself that humans have been doing this for centuries, it’s a form of survival.

      I have tried suckling pig several times here, and I still don’t like it. I do however eat pancetta cooked good and crisp!

      What was the best part of your trip to Sardinia?

      • We visited in July a few years back and it was scorching hot. Seriously…some days we couldn’t go more than a few metres away from the pool. We stayed near Valledoria/Castelsardo in a beautiful rental villa walking distance to a great little beach. Our absolute favorite thing was when we rented a boat with skipper and he took us around the coastline to beaches only accessible by boat and then even took us across to Corsica for a swim. He cooked us a wonderful seafood pasta onboard as well. It was expensive but one of those memories of a lifetime. We also loved the food and did some wonderful hikes. We’ll definitely be back one of these days (and I’ll definitely be researching on your blog beforehand!),

  8. Debra Kolkka says:

    We tried the seadas and I can highly recommend them and of course the culurgiones…..and the mirto, and the pecorino. I think we covered most things…except the horsemeat.

  9. thirdeyemom says:

    I love this post Jennifer! Should Benin Conde Nast! I am hungry right now especially for the pastas and cheese!!!! I will pass on Mr. Ed though ( the horse meat). Excellent post!

  10. joseph Murru says:

    ….. as a Sard I know the list of yummy food could go on indefinitely, but how could you forget Sardinia wines and bottarga or home made bread they must get into the top 10!!

  11. Pingback: Italian Word of the Week, Eating in Rome and Sardinia « Italy Hotline Custom and Gourmet Tours Blog

  12. how do you stay so thin eating all this yummy food? We went to Italy for 10 days in 2009 and we walked around 10+ hours a day and I STILL gained weight! The food was too good to pass up.

  13. Lilly says:

    My husband and I just came back from a holiday in Sardinia,this time we went overboard with the local food.We go visiting cousins (my parents were Sardinians) and are guests in their houses everytime we travel to Italy during the summer.There seems to be among them some sort of competition for who can feed you better or who can make you eat more.We are used to the Australian way of life and cannot cope anymore with these bacchanal-type 2 hour lunches and the obligatory siesta after!But when they serve you such wonderful food,what can you do?Pane Carasau is by far my favorite,but there are also other kind of breads that are not so popular anymore and I remember vividly from my childhood memories :Su Tundu is one,and another soft round one of which I cannot remember the name and of course:Le Coconnette,or bread they made for religious festivals but also were given to kids in the form of a toy you can eat.Do you know that Pane Carasau can be lightly wetted and set aside for a couple of minutes and can be used as a sandwich wrap?I remember once I tried to smuggle into Australia a kilo of that bread but after a few hours into my flight I got worried customs would fine me,so I proceeded to eat all of one kilo of Pane Carasau slowly to the irritation of my fellow travelers and my husband near me(as you know is noisy just like eating crisps) Of course I regretted it too as on top of suffering from jetlag after I was”stuck”inside for some time.Ravioli and Culurgiones are delicious too,my husband is still raving about them….I tried to make them here,they can never taste as good though,the most important ingredients are missing like the beautiful pecorino,the ricotta and even the ripen,full bodied tomatoes they have there….

    • There are so many wonderful dishes in Sardinia. I’m pretty sure that Sardinian food tops my list of best foods in the world! I love pane carasau and I can’t believe you ate an entire kilo on the plane! Is it really not possible to bring that into Australia? It sure took me some time to get used to the 2 hours lunches and afternoon naps here, but now I love them!

      • Lilly says:

        If you are a drug smuggler and get caught at the custom desk in Australia,the police,will whisk you discreetly away to a private room,but if you are attempting to bring in any type of edible food they will publicly shame you in front of the long lines of passengers who have just disembarked,you will be fined and told off,and….your life will be spared……just.Having said that,my visiting cousin managed to bring me a full tray of Sardinian cakes all the way from Nuoro with no problem at all! I guess the dogs didn’t do their job very well that day or they went on a strike….hehehe..

  14. Pingback: My Top 20 {at home} Sardinian Food Delights | A Photo Montage | My Sardinian Life | La Mia Vita Sarda

  15. People who have never been here just don’t know what they are missing ;-)))

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