Roberto Petza’s Sardinia / 1

The chef from San Gavino Monreale guides us across the island and far away from the usual destinations

02-08-2014
During these days, from August 1st to August 3rd,

During these days, from August 1st to August 3rd, the ninth edition of AppetitosaMente, a festival dedicated to good food from Sardinia is taking place in Siddi. Siddi, 60 km from Cagliari in the province of Medio Campidano, is also the place where S'Apposentu is located (tel. +39.070.9341045), Roberto Petza’s restaurant, which will be one of the protagonists of this event. Petza wrote an article on his favourite places in Sardinia for Guida ai ristoranti di Identità Golose 2014, published by Mondadori. We now republish it in two episodes both for the food enthusiasts attending the festival and for the many people who will visit the island in search for sea and sun

Even today there are people who imagine Sardinia as an exotic land, made of immense beaches, without any inland... In fact, it is quite different. Besides, for Sardinians, in the past, sea was not a very good thing: it was via the sea that the Saracens and the conquerors arrived, as proven by 105 towers on the coast, built between the 8th and 18th century. Perhaps it is for this reason that all the energy and the ingenuity were dedicated to the inland territories.

The relationship between Sardinians and their land is made of love and hate, or hate and love, if one were to use the right sequence. I felt it myself, since I was very young, as soon as I finished middle school: I escaped the family plans that wanted me graduating from the teaching institute in my village and enrolled in catering school in Alghero, on the other side of the island.

The same happened after I got my professional certificate: while my parents were preparing my return in a kitchen a few kilometres from home, I already had a one way ticket to Paris in my pocket. It was only after fifteen years spent roaming around the world that I decided the time had come to go back. So I opened my first S'apposentu in my hometown, and then moved to Cagliari and then stopped in Marmilla, the place I’m from and where I still am today.

Tourists walk around the fish stands at Mercato di San Benedetto, in Cagliari

Tourists walk around the fish stands at Mercato di San Benedetto, in Cagliari

My life is a journey, for this reason I believe the best way to understand Sardinia is to travel across it, far away from the usual destinations. So I created a three-day-itinerary for which one should prepare himself not by flying, but by arriving by sea, to Cagliari’s port.

The initial stop is at Mercato di San Benedetto (via Cocco Ortu, Cagliari, +39.070.6675614), where Ulisse, who has his stand selling vegetables and fruits left to the main entrance, will guide you as a Dante’s Virgil, making you discover the fish stands located on the floor below: try some raw prawns.

Stefano Deidda, chef at Corsaro, is recommended by Roberto Petza for his creativity in the kitchen

Stefano Deidda, chef at Corsaro, is recommended by Roberto Petza for his creativity in the kitchen

So, then for a restaurant: the choice can be between tradition and innovation. For the former, trattoria Sa Turra (corso Vittorio Emanuele II 126, Cagliari, +39.070.663191) is a must, while for creativity, the right place is that of the young and talented Stefano Deidda of Dal Corsaro, or Rossella Mura’s Lisboa (via Tuveri 2, Cagliari, +39.070.43707).

Having left Cagliari take the state road to Nurri, where you can drink a good glass of wine at Gianfranco Manca’s winery Panevino (via Trento 61, Nurri (Ca), +39.348.8241060); he’s one of the philosophers of natural wine, it’s often difficult to find one of his bottles in Sardinian restaurants but whenever I travel abroad, I always find one in the best wine lists in the world. Also in the surrounding area (and also with regards to wine), you can continue to Nurallao, where there is Ugo Sionis of Vigneto Santu Teru (Nurallao (Ca), +39.339.7256833), a tiny organic producer.

1. to be continued


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