Located in Via Sardegna in the heart of the historic center of Cagliari just a stone's throw from the port, there is one of the most renowned restaurants in the Sardinian capital: "Antica Cagliari Restaurant". We have decided to try it for you and what will follow will leave you speechless.
Everyone knows that Sardinia is a land rich in traditions, especially culinary ones, handed down over the centuries until today.
Among the many we remember the famous Pane Carasau, the Casu Frazigo (better known as Casu martzu) and the fregola.
We have been to Cagliari for a quick stop (a short weekend) and many have recommended this restaurant to us.
Being our first time in Cagliari, we did some research on the place and to our great surprise we discovered that the restaurant in question was exactly under our window of the b&b.
Excited by what we did not waste time and after a refreshing shower we went to try their cuisine.
From the outside, you immediately notice a discreet little door with a not too large luminous sign, followed by a glass window from which it is possible to admire the interior of the room.
As soon as we arrived we were greeted with grace and kindness by the staff who, as soon as they could, set us up a table outside.
The evening was fantastic and the outside temperature allowed us to eat outside in the splendid setting of the historic center (to our happiness).
When ordering drinks, the wine menu was immediately brought to us, illustrated with experience and professionalism by one of the waiters.
After a brief discussion, we decide to try a "Nuragus" from the Audarya winery, a dry and medium-fruity wine with a delicate taste, suitable for what would later be our fish-based courses.
To begin with, we opted for tasting appetizers consisting of cold and hot dishes;
The first two samples of hot appetizers included a red mussel soup and a fried squid and vegetables.
Mussel soup: we were immediately enchanted by the fresh scent of the sea mixed with aromatic herbs and spices that enhanced its aroma. But the real surprise was in the flavour: delicate and persistent with a slightly spicy touch to enhance its taste and sweetness, all wrapped up in a warm red stew.
Nothing to say for the mixed fry of squid and vegetables except for the freshness of the fish, simply delicious; note the light color of the very crunchy breading, indicating that the cooking oil was certainly changed before the evening service.
Then it was the turn of two cold appetizers: Catalan tuna and octopus and potato salad.
Catalan tuna: a dish as simple as it is tasty. Blanched, marinated in extra virgin olive oil and then garnished with red onions and fresh cherry tomatoes, it is the perfect combination of simplicity and taste; definitive proof that sometimes a few ingredients are enough for a tasty dish but well matched to each other.
Octopus and potato salad: we were particularly struck by the consistency and taste of the potatoes in this dish. At first sight a simple dish, but a taste is enough to realize how far it is from banality. The potatoes, very soft and very tasty, go perfectly with the flavor and texture of the octopus; it is incredible the alternation of acid and sweet flavors that overlap each other in a pleasant mix on the palate in which the delicacy of the octopus prevails in the end.
To close the roundup of starters, here are two other cold starters: cuttlefish with red radicchio and balsamic vinegar glaze, shrimp salad with celery and julienned carrots.
Cuttlefish with red radicchio and balsamic vinegar glaze: a bold dish that perhaps does not achieve the objective of enhancing the taste of cuttlefish; immediately the bitter notes of the red radicchio prevail, then swept away by the sweet and sour of the balsamic vinegar glaze; difficult if not impossible to try (or find) the delicate flavor of the cephalopods in question. A real shame considering the freshness of the product which is undervalued in this way.
Shrimp salad with celery and julienne carrots: the story is quite different for this last appetizer. The delicate delicacy of the prawns is well underlined by carrots and celery seasoned just enough to envelop everything in a unique and unmistakable flavor of the sea.
BOTTARGA: To our surprise we were offered a very welcome taste of Sardinian Bottarga. The combination with celery and raw extra virgin olive oil was excellent, which perfectly balanced the slightly bitter aftertaste of the seasoned eggs.
After tasting the appetizers it was time for the first courses: Fregola with shellfish and spaghetti with seafood.
Shellfish fregola: very good. There is not much to say about it, the dish was simply excellent and tasty. The flavor of the scampi is very clear and delicate, certainly very fresh and of high quality, enhanced by a light sip of wine with each bite.
Spaghetti allo scoglio: the same goes for spaghetti; excellent execution demonstrating the fact that even the simplest dishes can sometimes be the best.
At the end of the dinner, the classic dessert could not be missing, in this case being in Sardinian land we could not but opt for a classic Seadas.
Seadas: the fried external pastry covered a warm heart of Sardinian pecorino cheese, all wrapped in a stream of hot honey and orange peel on the side. It was the first time for us to taste this dessert (almost unusual for us), but on balance we have to admit that we were pleasantly surprised by the taste of so many flavours, so different from each other, incredibly well matched to make this dessert unique in the its kind.
We stayed very well; the atmosphere, the hospitality, the service and the positive attitude of the staff all ensured that we spent a wonderful evening leaving us with beautiful memories. After trying it, we highly recommend it to all those who want to visit the Sardinian capital; we believe it should be an obligatory stop for all those looking for good food in a beautiful environment of hospitality and professionalism.