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Agriturismo La Colti (ph. Dario Garofalo)

text Antonella Brianda

April 17, 2024

Traditional Gallura dishes

What to eat in the Porto Cervo and Gallura area

While the beaches and hidden coves giving onto the crystal-clear waters are definitely the main draw to the Porto Cervo area, the heart of Costa Smeralda®, many come also for the local food. And when Prince Karim Aga Khan chose this corner of Sardinia to transform Costa Smeralda into the dream destination it would later become, a crucial role was played by traditional Gallura cuisine which, with its simple yet easily recognizable flavors, added an extra appeal to the Prince’s selected destination. Despite the mix and influence of different and far-away cultures, those who travel to Porto Cervo can be sure to find traditional dishes at most of the most fashionable venues along the Coast, such as honey-covered Seadas and Pulilgioni, fresh ravioli pasta filled with ricotta cheese and the famous Porcetto, a suckling pig roasted on a fire spit: dishes offered in new, more creative versions at times, but always based on tradition and on the use of locally produced and sourced ingredients.

To find out the best restaurants in and around Porto Cervo, click here; here the most exclusive places to have an aperitif; and here the best agritourisms in the surrounding area.

Ricette galluresi

  • Mazza Frissa

A peasant dish traditionally eaten by Gallura farmers who used to prepare it one day ahead and enjoyed as a cold lunch in the fields. It is made mostly from fresh cow’s milk cream, called lu pizu, cooked with the addition of semolina and a pinch of salt. At most restaurants, it is served as an appetizer, or as a sauce over fresh gnocchi pasta, topped with a generous sprinkling of Sardinian pecorino cheese; in this case it is called Casciu Furriatu. It can also be enjoyed warm as a soft dessert with lukewarm honey poured over it. It has that grandma’s home-cooked dish feeling, a feeling of comfort that makes you eat it over and over again.

  • Li Chiusoni

The smell of the sauce that comes with it is so intense that you cannot keep from doing scarpetta. It would, in fact, be a sacrilege not to mop the last of the mutton or pork sausage sauce on your plate with bread. The sauce is used to season Li Chiusoni, that is, gnocchi pasta made with durum wheat semolina and flour and pressed against the back of a grater to give them their typical pointed shape. Dusted with flour and placed on handmade baskets, Li Chiusoni are left to dry for a few hours, but they can also be cooked in boiling and salted water as soon as the guardians of this traditional age-old dish have finished to roll them out. Seasoned with plenty of sauce to which a knob of pork lard is often added, Li Chiusoni are then topped with coarsely grated Sardinian cheese. Don’t even try to use a fork: these gnocchi are enjoyed by taking spoonfuls of them.

Li Chiusoni, Agriturismo La Colti

  • Pane a Fittasa

A simple first-course dish based on stale bread, Pane a Fittasa ismade with the typical Sardinian bread, spianata, left to dry in the open air and cut into coarse pieces which are cooked for a few minutes in boiling and salted water and seasoned with a meat sauce called Lu Ghisatu, made with diced veal and cheese. A simple yet tasty dish, which always calls for a second helping.

  • Puligioni

You may be amazed by being served, as a main course, the Puligioni, ricotta cheese sweets seasoned with a sweetish pea sauce. And yet, in the Gallura area, ricotta-filled ravioli pasta have a sweet note to the filling and, although sprinkled with pecorino cheese, the sweetish flavor is mouth-filling, leaving you perplexed for a few seconds. Only for a few seconds though, the time it takes for the cheese’s savoriness to hit the palate and then, you are surprised again by the sweet peas used as the sauce’s main ingredient. While the salted Puligioni version is the most popular one, the sweet version is a must-try for those wishing to learn more about the most authentic and traditional dishes of Costa Smeralda®.

  • Porcetto arrosto allo spiedo

You say Sardinia and everyone goes: “suckling pig roasted on a fire spit”. Hours and hours of cooking, handfuls of salt rubbed over the piglet’s skin, and herbs, such as fresh myrtle twigs, burnt under the spit make this roast meat tender inside and crispy outside. It is one of the island’s most emblematic dishes and the dish that you will always find on the family tables of Costa Smeralda®. And if you get a bit more daring with your food choices, try the roast mutton, goat and lamb on the spit. Served with a generous portion of potatoes on the side, these roast meats are simply unrivalled.

Porcetto arrosto allo spiedo dell'Agriturismo La Colti

  • Rivea

With the fire still going and the spit still spinning, you cannot miss a taste of Rivea, that is, offal such as the liver, heart, lungs and spleen of lamb and goat which are cut into pieces, speared on the spit and cooked. A delicacy for real connoisseurs of this kind of dish.

  • Freshly-caught fish

Fresh fish, caught at sea just a few miles from the Gallura coast, is prepared in a simple way, usually cooked on a grill and seasoned very little, if at all: there’s no need to cover up the flavor, all it takes is a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to bring out the fish’s delicious natural taste straight from the sea.

ph. Maria Laband

  • Indattaru

And straight from the sea, from the many farms just a few kilometers from Costa Smeralda®, in the neighboring Gulf of Olbia, come the famous Olbia mussels called Indattaru. Many enjoy them raw, freshly-caught, but they can also be cooked Marinara-style with garlic, olive oil, parsley, salt, hot pepper and lemon in segments and served as an appetizer at all restaurants along the Coast. Never use a fork to eat them, you would be looked at with disapproval by the locals: with your hands and by sipping up the juice straight from the shells is the best way to enjoy them, and no table companion will ever look down on you.

  • Seadas

While the local savory dishes are intensely flavored, Gallura’s sweet food is amazingly delicate. The best-known Sardinian dessert is definitely the Seada, very popular with all those visiting Sardinia and Costa Smeralda. It is prepared by deep-frying a thin semolina and lard dumpling with a filling of soft cheese and served warm and covered with honey and sugar. No meal in Sardinia is complete without a Seada and every diner will ask for this dessert on the menu. The original Gallura version includes the addition in the cheese filling of chopped parsley that gives a very typical flavor.

Dolci galluresi

  • Li Acciuleddi

Covered with honey and deep-fried are also the Li Acciuleddi, delicioustwists of pastrymade from semolina and lard. The honey poured over them is warmed up and flavored with orange cut into very thin strips. On the tables of Costa Smeralda®, lightness is given only by the sea breeze that blows very often: the local cuisine is very tasty and generously seasoned. Which is the reason why every meal is topped off with a glass of Eaaldenti, a distillate made from the pomace leftover from winemaking. A sort of colorless grappa which makes an excellent digestif to help you recover from the Sardinian binge.

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