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This "Overview of Dining in Alghero" has grown in length considerably since it was first created, the reason being that there is so much to write about and so many excellent restaurants here. Owing to its length, you may feel that it would be a good idea to print it off and bring it with you.
There are many, many places to eat in Alghero. There are probably more restaurants per capita than any place else in Sardinia. This means that there are many places that are not listed here. For most visitors however, if they follow the recommendations here (including particular dishes at certain places) they will eat well during their stay. Many places are aimed more at locals than tourists, but venture in and you will be rewarded, especially if you can manage a few words of Italian.
Food is one very good reason to come to Alghero. As any starred Michelin chef will tell you, the outcome of a meal is dependent upon two factors - The freshness and quality of its ingredients (60%) and the skills and ability of the chef (40%). In Sardinia quality and freshness are always excellent, as factory farming is an unknown concept here. The island is self-sufficient and produces more than enough for its 1.5 million inhabitants and its visitors. Produce is grown or reared locally, according to traditional methods. Food preparation and presentation are taken very seriously here and there are a number of colleges specialising in the art. As a result, the number of excellent chefs produced by this island, far exceeds its size. The only shortcoming that you might encounter on occasion is that the speed of service can be frustrating slow in some restaurants.
Please note before you order, that if you choose to sit outside during the summer months, you will have to pay for the privilege. A supplement (10-20% depending on the restaurant) is charged. This is something universally Italian and is not a means by which to take money from the tourists.
Late September/October/November is not the best time to eat fish in Sardinia. It is the closed season for sea fishing (Fermo Biologico), when fishing by larger boats is banned & fishing by the much smaller, one-man operated craft is only permitted on a Saturday & Sunday. The prohibition on catching fish lasts for 45 days and varies according to the side of the island. On the east coast the dates are from 26th September - 9th November; on the west coast 10th October - 23rd November. So, unless you eat fish on a Monday, which has been caught over the weekend, what you get on the table is likely to have come from a fish farm (Allevamento) of which there are two near Alghero, or to have been frozen.
At any time of the year, if you want to order fish, ask to see the specimen that you are to be served. Good restaurateurs will be only too happy to accede to your request; most of them will offer it to you on a plate to view without being asked.
There is a very easy method to determine whether a fish has been frozen or is not fresh - look at the eyes. If they are prominent, curved and clear, then the fish is fresh. If they lie flat, or are in anyway clouded, then the fish is not fresh.
November in Sardinia sees the release of the year's new wines - "Vino Novello" - similar in concept to the French Beaujolais Nouveau - if new wine is to your taste. Both of Alghero's better known wine producers - Sella & Mosca and Cantina di Santa Maria La Palma, produce a Vino Novello.
November and January are the months when things wind down a little bit in Alghero and some restaurants will close for 2 or 3 months, at the beginning of the year in order that staff can take holidays, or to enable re-decorations and maintenance to take place, before things quickly wind up again for Easter and the summer season.
A few restaurants do close over the Christmas and New Year period, although not many, as there is good business to be had on New Year's Eve, when most restaurants offer a fixed price, set menu. Paco is an exception to this general rule and continues to offer an A la Carte menu. The fixed price menus can vary widely from 40 Euros per head to 150 Euros per head at Hotel Villa Las Tronas. Wine is not included, although a glass or two of bubbly normally is.
The period 6th January – 11th February in Alghero is the celebration known as “Sagra del Bogamari” – Festival of the Sea Urchin or "Ricci" to give them their Italian name.
The festival takes its name from the time, when under Catalan rule, fishermen walked the streets calling “Booga…….Booga…… Mari!!” Every weekend, between 10am – 2pm, in a marquee, with seating for 200, sited on Lungomare Barcelona, one can savour sea urchins (already cut open for you), bread and a glass of local wine for a fixed price of €5.
The theme is also picked up by eleven of the local restaurants, all of which offer dishes created around the sea urchin, such as Spaghetti al Riccio di mare, Trenette ai Ricci etc. The dishes are best enjoyed with a glass of cold, white wine – the latest creation from local vineyard Sella & Mosca – “Parallelo 41” (named after the line of latitude, or the umbilical cord that joins Alghero to the Catalan capital, Barcelona ) – is an excellent choice.
The restaurants taking part in this festival are: 'Angedras restaurant,' Bastioni Marco Polo, ‘Dieci Metri,’ Via Barcellonetta, ‘Andreini,’ Via Ardoino, ‘Bella Napoli,’ Piazza Civica, ‘Casablanca,’ Via Principe Umberto, ‘Da Pietro,’ Via A. Machin, ‘Maristella,’ Via F.lli. Kennedy, ‘Al Tuguri,’ Via Majorca, ‘Il Pavone,’ Piazza Sulis, ‘Il Vicere,’ Via Sant Erasmo, ‘ Posda Del Mar,’ Vicolo Adami and ‘Taverna Paradiso,’ Via Principe Umberto.
Seafood in Alghero is wonderful, although these days, the smaller varieties might come from a fish farm or not be from local waters - ask your server. They also do lobster in a specific way, with onions and tomatoes. Also worth looking out for are Malloredus, also called Gnochetti Sardi, which are little pasta shells usually served with a tomato and sausage sauce. Another nice pasta dish is culurgiones, large raviolis. A reasonably good local white wine is Torbato, from the nearby Sella & Mosca vineyard, which also, as do most other wine producers on the island, makes Cannonau, a pungent red. Liqueurs include Limoncello (lemon), white or red Mirto (myrtle) and Fillu Feru (literally "Piece of Wire").
The origin of the term goes back to the era of prohibition in Sardinia, when the production of spirits was illegal. Completely unfazed ,(this is Sardinia), the locals continued production, shrewdly burying the product in the ground. The location of the "Stash" was indicated by the slightest indicator; a piece of wire sticking out of the earth - thus "Fillu Ferru." The spirit is "Grappa," which is the distillation of grape matter, after the juice has been extracted to make wine. In true clever Sardinian style, there is no danger in mixing the grape with the grain anything else (Poteen for Irish friends). Grappa comes in a huge variety of grape varieties; the clear spirit is aged in stainless steel vats and is a bit tight in the throat (Fillu Ferru) is one of these."Grappa Barricata" is the name given to Grappa aged in wood ; so very much milder and warmer on the palate. The local Grappa Barricata from Alghero is "Nonnu Eloghu," (Nonnu = Grandfather) distilled by the Cherchi family. It is available in almost every restaurant & bar in town.
Meals are served with Carasau, known as carta di musica in the rest of Italy. It's paper thin, crispy bread, and delicious.
Paco, at 7, Largo San Francesco, ( Tel: 079-975785), just outside the walls of the Old Town, is a spacious and very well run family restaurant, (Mum - Karen & daughter front of house, Father Antonio & son are the chefs), each member of whom speaks excellent English. The service here is the best in town, although be prepared to wait a little longer than normal for your meal, as each course is prepared to your order - it will be worth the wait. Paco has an extensive menu, huge on meat, large on pasta (try the seafood linguine) and a good selection of seafood. The lamb cutlets in a garlic, rosemary and chilli sauce are particularly recommended & the mixed grill is huge. As far as their homemade Tiramisu is concerned, it is indescribably delicious! For those who like wine, they have some "Big Reds" that are not on the list, but are on display behind the bar. In terms of local opinion, "Paco", (the Catalan diminutive of Francesco) was the most popular and preferred restaurant in Alghero for 2006
For authentic Sardinian cuisine try Trattoria La Saletta at 27B Via Kennedy.
Another newish place that is getting good reviews from visitors and locals alike is Osteria Barcelonetta at 31 Via Gioberti.
Trattoria Cavour, is unsurprisingly located in Via Cavour, just a few steps down from the junction with Bastioni Cristoforo Colombo. This is a small restaurant which only serves authentic, local, Sardinain cuisine. It is very popular amongst the locals, so it is advisable to book beforehand.
Angedras restaurant, is located at Via Cavour 31, Tel +39 0799735078. The proprietor, Marco Coronzu, (also the proprietor of the Angedras hotel in Alghero) has secured a prime location - in addition to the bright, sunny and well lit interior dining room, there is also seating out side at the front of the restaurant by the sea wall, which offers a beautiful view, especially at sunset. More importantly, Marco has secured the services of a talented young chef. Together they provide a culinary experience based on the freshest ingredients of the day, and good value for money.
Bella Napoli pizzeria in Piazza Civicais the creation of the Neapolitan and larger than life character Giorgio Licenziato and his partner Paola Pittalis. Both are fully qualified Sommelier, know the islands wine producers personally and have a passion for excellent fresh food and the best of wines. Please take the trouble to ask them questions about your food and wine. They will be delighted and you will be very interested in what you learn.
La Lepanto, which benefits from a favoured position overlooking the sea, at the junction od Bastioni Cristforo Colombo and Via Carlo Alberto on the southern edge of the Old Town, reopened under new management in 2009.
The Osteria Macchiavello Restaurant is located on the ramparts of Alghero in ideal location for sunset watching. Outside, sea view tables. reat fish, delicious spaghetti with fresch local lobster and friendly service.
Adress: Bastioni Marco Polo 57, 07041 Alghero, Tel +39 079980628
Al Solito Posto, which is very inexpensive and at the bottom end of Alghero's restaurants, is ideal for families on a low budget. It has a huge variety of well-cooked spaghetti dishes, including about half a dozen vegetarian ones, as well as very fresh grilled fish.
A very popular and highly respected small restaurant, located in the Old Town, which caters for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike, is il ristorante Al Tuguri, located in the Old Town, at Via Majorca 113, Tel 0039 -79-976772. Al Tuguri, is small, seating about 48 on two floors. It specialises in Algherese/Catalan cuisine and operates under the personal and direct supervision of the world renowned Sardinian Chef Benito Carbonella. Not only is this probably the most romantic restaurant in Alghero, but at the moment, with his daughter Miriam finishing her apprenticeship in the kitchen, the quality of food is truly outstanding. Service here is personal and professional and is currently one of the best in Alghero. Prices are very reasonable, with five-course tasting menus entitled The Sea, The Land, or The Vegetable costing only 34 Euros (£22.50). The most refreshing and unusual attribute of Al Tuguri is the consistency of its pricing. Lunch costs the same as dinner 365 days a year.
For that very special occasion and considered by the locals to be the best dining in town, is the restaurant at the 5* Hotel Villa las Tronas - a 5 minute walk south along the coastal promenade from the Old Town. It looks like a small castle set on a peninsula, which projects out into the bay. For some reason, the hotel does not advertise it's daily menu outside the hotel. This means that visitors to the town are unaware that there is a truly excellent and beautifully appointed restaurant available to them behind the security gates and tend to pass it by. Without doubt it is the most splendidly appointed restaurant in the town by a very long way, although there is no need to dress up too formally. The cost of dinner for non-residents is about €45 (£30) per person, excluding wine and water. There is a different menu each evening, consisting of an appetiser, a starter, a first course, a main course and dessert or selection of cheeses. Other than for the appetiser, there are 5 or 6 choices for each course, at least of one of which is vegetarian. The wine list is very extensive, with prices ranging from the teens up to €500 - €600 for Vintage Tuscan reds such as Sassacia and Solia.
If you do decide to dine at Las Tronas during the summer months, make contact with the Head Waiter, Renzo, as soon as you arrive, to see if he can seat you for dinner at the table next to the glass front wall, on the left hand side. It is the best table, which offers a spectacular view across the sea, of the sun setting over Capo Caccia - provided that the weather favours you. Booking is recommended, particularly on Friday & Saturday nights. http://www.hotelvillalastronas.com Tel +39 079 981818 E-Mail: email@example.com
At Mabrouk, near the cathedral, whose catchphrase is "Only Fish, Only Fresh and Only Evenings" the cook, Marie Antonetta, whose brother is a local fisherman, goes every morning to the market and comes back with what she likes. This she cooks offering, for a fixed price, appetizers (seafood salad, stewed fish, onions), three kinds of pasta with fish and vegetable sauces, followed by three kinds of fish (for instance: roasted bar with potatoes; fried calamaris; grilled gambas), then dessert (she does not make these) and digestive. Wine included, it comes to 30 euros each. Everything is really fresh and really delicious. If you want lobster, you have to book it and pay a little more. Two young and cheerful waiters (boy and girl) serve on the trot with efficiency and big smiles; they actually look like they have fun most of the time, or have exceptionally good characters. There are two rooms, one downstairs one upstairs, and you must book. Mabrouk is closed for the month of November, to coincide with the close season for sea fishing. This is an informal place with very good service, wonderful food, and not very expensive.
Da Pietro is a very old establishment, with a vaulted dining room. The owner sits in a corner watching TV and overseeing the service, and the food is very good, and not expensive. This is also the place to try Seadas (also Sebadas), a traditional Sardinian dessert, a kind of ravioli filled with mascarpone cheese and smothered in honey - million calories, but delicious. They do a “tourist” menu which is good value, including wine. The spaghetti in squid ink is delicious, as is the bucatini al Algherese, with capers, tomato and olives. Any of the grilled fish is a good choice. It can be a bit variable, but stick to the fish-based dishes and you won't be disappointed.
Maristella on Via Kennedy is popular with locals. It has a small menu, and is reliably good.
La Mirador, located on Bastioni Marco Polo, in front of the sea ,has both internal and in the summer, external dining facilties. The chef, Giorgio Maninchedda, is proudly Sardinian first and Algherese second. His creations therefore reflect the island as a whole - they are robust and delicious. You will want to come again.
Next door to Paco on Largo San Francesco is a new restaurant, Le Tre Torri, or The Three Towers. The partners in this business are Sardinian and a man from Tuscany. For both, it is their first venture as restaurateurs. As a result, the menu offering is more Italian than Sardinian
Picollo Pavone opened in 2006 in Piazza Sulis, offering a limited menu of soup, pasta, fish or meat dishes from between 6-15 Euros. The food here is excellent quality and value, as it is prepared in the same kitchen and by the same chef who prepares the food for the parent restaurant Il Pavone, which is located next door. Il Pavone is one of Alghero's long established restaurants. The menus are in Catalan and English - not Italian. It provides excellent views over the sea, from a conservatory type structure at the front of the restaurant. Food here, whilst excellent, is quite expensive. Wine is noticeably more expensive than identical varieties at other restaurants.
Other choices that won't disappoint are Vechhio Mulino and Mazzini.
If you happen to be staying at the northern end of Alghero, in Fertilia, or are staying in Alghero and have transport, then you should really try Ristorante Da Bruno, which is located in the grounds of Hotel Fertilia, (turn right instead of left when entering the car park) on the road between Fertilia & Santa Maria La Palma. The restaurant is famous for traditional Sardinian dishes, such as Porcetta (suckling pig) and Cinghiale (Wild Boar), they also have a large number of fish dishes. If you are a lover of robust Italian cooking, washed down with a good red wine, the try Gnochi da Bruno to start, with Cinghiale as your main course.
A little further up the same road, (take the only left turn between Fertilia & Santa Maria La Palma) lies the Monte Sixeri Estate, on which the olives for the world famous San Giuliano Olive oil are grown. On the estate is the Country Restaurant Le Pinnette (the name given to the old, round, rural stone buildings, with cane roofs, similar to those for wich Puglia is so famous). Facilities exist at the restaurant cooking, over a traditional, wooden fire, of the famous Sardinian dish - 'Porcetto Sardo' (suckling pig). During the summer months, on a platform next to the restaurant patio, live performances of traditional Sardinian music and costume dancing take place. On the other side of the patio, is a fully equipped children's play area, that has been created, in order that children can play safely, whilst their parents can enjoy the home grown traditional food, such as wild boar, pork, mutton, a huge variety of vegetables & pasta. "Le Pinnette" is something completely different & quite unforgetable, but you really do need to have a car to get there and back, unless you want to stay in one of the farmhouses on the estate. Contact details and a map of how to get there can be found at: http://www.sangiuliano.it Tel: 0039 0799999016.
For pizzas, Casablanca next to the Solito Posto is excellent, as is the hugely popular Bella Napoli on Piazza Civica, which also does pizza at lunch. Casabanca, which also serves a great selection of pasta, fish and meat, is another restaurant owned by the Andreini family. It has a great reputation and is much favoured by the locals, particularly on Sunday lunchtimes. The service here is good too.
Another very good choice for pizza, between the Old Town and the Lido, is Son de Mar, which is located on the ground floor of Hotel Tarragona (4*) in Via Gallura (runs away from the sea at the Lido end of the marina). This is a large pizzeria that offers delicious, thin crust pizza by the metre, cooked over wood, in a traditional pizza oven. You can choose a different flavour for every 25 cms or so. This is a family orientated restaurant and would be a great treat for your children whose eyes are sure to pop when they see the pizzas being delivered to the table.
For those who stay in the southern part of town & like Pizza, then La Lanterna at 82, Via Giovanni XXIII is an excellent choice, again it is cooked in the traditional way over wood, or "forno a legna."
Most popular with the younger age group (20s-30s) is PocoLoco (A little bit crazy), which is located at Via Gramsci, 8 just south of the Old Town. There is live music most evenings (starts at 10pm) with Jazz being the flavour other than on Fridays & Saturdays when the choice is a little more modern. Again Poco Loco serves traditionally cooked "Pizze al Metro" (Pizza by the metre) with a huge variety of toppings. Poco Loco also has a bowling alley and was Alghero's first Internet cafe. See www.pocolocoalghero.it
Opposite Casablanca is Borgo Antico. This vaulted and mirrored restaurant has a well-deserved reputation for fresh fish.
The last building on the southern outskirts of town, (about 200 metres beyond the back gate of Hotel Calabona), is the bar/grill Quintillo. The building, which has floor to ceiling walls of glass on three sides, and a large outside terrace, is located right on the beach and is recommended principally for the very best view of the bay of Alghero in town. When you learn that the Bay of Alghero was recently voted the best in the Mediterranean, you will get some idea of what awaits you. Whilst the menu is very limited and simple, it is possible to order salads, steak, swordfish, squid etc at a very reasonable price.
In summer, there are lots of opportunities for eating on the sea walls. La Muraglia does good set menus. The service here can be hit and miss (the bill can often be wrong) but it's pleasant enough, although, as the area is a magnet for tourists, the bill for your food can reflect that.
Let's not forget the ice cream either. Like the rest of Italy, Sardinians love their ice cream, and there are plenty of excellent gelaterias in Alghero, serving most flavours you can imagine. Arcobaleno, on Piazza Civica, is well-known and the two gelaterias either side of the excellent London Bar in Piazza Ginnasio are particularly recommended, but anywhere you go look for a “produzione propria” sign.
There are many cafes, but a nice (if somewhat expensive) one is Cafe
Latino. Sadly, for the best view and position in the city, it has the
slowest service imaginable. That said, if you are prepared to wait - and wait
(but after all, lounging on the walls and watching the world go by is very
pleasant), you can sit on the walls overlooking the port and nurse a coffee or
an aperitif and watch the world go by. But be prepared to pay very high prices for the privilege. (If you are in a hurry to leave, just go
inside and pay the bill at the cash desk.)
Café Diva is also a nice relaxed choice for breakfast. Costantino
on Piazza Civica is fun too. The main room looks like your crazy aunt’s drawing
room, but there is also a nice terrace. Order and pay at the cash register and
take the receipt to the bar. Probably the best coffee in town is to be had
at London Bar in Piazza Ginnasio j/w Via Carlo Alberto, or why not try
the newly opened "Il Vecchio Dado," just outside the Old Town
at the beginning of Via XX Settembre. For those wanting to watch English
football matches, whilst in Alghero, try Bar Roma in Via Roma, in the
Old Town, it can be relied upon to screen the most popular matches. Another good choice is Cafe Pazzi in the "well" of the new centre next to the old fish market.
Pancho Villa, Via Vittorio Vento 47 - Mexican restaurant. Good for a bit of a change and has a really nice outdoor courtyard area at the back.
The vegetarian and sushi cafe Ko De Kap, Via Asfodelo 35 is opposite the marina on the other side of a large car park. This small modern cool place provides a great atmosphere to enjoy some simple but delicious and good value food. If you're vegetarian or looking for something served with rice for a change consider this place, which also offers takout. Closed Mondays.
Come to Alghero for a month and you can eat well for lunch and dinner at a different place each day, and not run out of options. But no doubt, you will keep going back to your favourites.