Somu, Salvatore Cameddaís new Sardinia

It opened under a year ago near Oristano. The young chef presents an exciting Sardinian cuisine with distant influences

07-11-2017

Meet Salvatore Camedda, for little under a year, the patron-chef at Somu in San Vero Milis. A nice discovery

Photogallery

Mullet marinated with muscovado sugar, cream of tamarind, chips of polenta and powdered liquorice
Calamari with fermented garlic, with celeriac chips. A remarkable use of herbs: thyme, marjoram...
Red ox tartare, spicy sauce, liquorice, wild fennel, summer truffle and lavender leaves
Cold spaghetti with seafood and curry sauce: very good

You won’t arrive in San Vero Milis by chance. The secluded village with 2500 inhabitants is in the region of Campidano di Oristano, close to the Montiferru mountain chain, a 20 minutes’ drive from the sea and from Cabras. According to Wikipedia it is “famous for its artisanal production of cane baskets, for Vernaccia wine and mandarins; it is known among animal lovers for the feline colony of  Su Pallosu, for whose preservation the then president of the Republic of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano, fought”. We had no idea of all this, and we would have continued on our road, if it wasn’t for the brilliant recommendation given by Piero Pio Pitzalis and Domenico Sanna, whom we thank: «There’s a new restaurant there that you must try».

The building where Somu is located, in the centre of San Vero Milis

The building where Somu is located, in the centre of San Vero Milis

It’s name is Somu (s’omu, with the apostrophe, which in Sardinian means “the house”) and chef Salvatore Camedda, born in 1983 in Cabras, opened it in December last year. In short: it was one of the most interesting discoveries this year. Camedda was not born in the business, but followed a passion: his dad Antonio is a policeman in love with cooking, «I wanted to follow his footsteps, wear a blue uniform, but he enrolled me in catering school in Alghero», so he ended up wearing a white uniform. It was hard at first, with an internship at Baja Sardinia, «but I wanted nothing to do with it. I changed my mind only later» while he was already working hard in the kitchen, spending summers on the island, and winters in St. Moritz or at the Palace in Cortina. This for 9 years: «I wanted to learn about raw materials. What I already knew and was asked to do wasn’t enough for me».

Then came a dinner at Massimiliano Alajmo’s, «I was struck. I realised what road I had to take», which led him to spend three months in Taipei, then in Milan with Gian Domenico Melandri, and finally 7 months with Giuliano Baldessari at Aqua Crua («I still send him the best bottarga»). This was the last step before diving into his personal adventure, basically at home, less than one year ago.

It was a challenge that’s still in progress: these days the restaurant is closed (it will open again on the 9th November) for renovations, updates in the menu and the staff, which at the moment of our visit, a few weeks ago, included three people and a kitchen hand in the brigade. The establishment is brand new, but very promising, «many things still need to change, but I’m very happy». The debut was good. Camedda says: «Cabras is full of restaurants. There are even too many, but the quality is low. I wanted to stand out» and that’s why he chose San Vero Milis.

A banal question: but why? «Here I have extraordinary products. Of course, having a fine dining offer is difficult, but the average quality is gradually growing. We must thank Roberto Petza if there’s now a new generation of well-prepared and well-aware chefs here in Sardinia». A (dutiful) bow with a note: «My challenge is to make people eat cold spaghetti here! I want to see if I can serve food that is even more “contaminated” than that of Roberto Serra, or Petza himself; I’m not necessarily looking for zero km though I’m not against it. The rice comes from a farm that’s 100 metres from here», for instance. «We aim for those who want to experiment a new sort of cuisine, where we match local excellences with flavours from distant lands».

The menus at Somu

The menus at Somu

Camedda’s dream is to «see a leap in the Sardinian restaurant scene». Meanwhile, he’s the one to take a leap, but in our opinion he does so with excellent dishes, as with the Mullet marinated with muscovado sugar, cream of tamarind, chips of polenta and powdered liquorice, that is to say a meaty fish, with notes of iodine, and a sweetish marinade, plus the sourness of tamarind, the aroma of liquorice… A perfect balance.

Red ox tartare, spicy sauce, liquorice, wild fennel, summer truffle and lavender leaves

Red ox tartare, spicy sauce, liquorice, wild fennel, summer truffle and lavender leaves

Or the Red ox tartare, spicy sauce, liquorice, wild fennel, summer truffle and lavender leaves, another elegant starter. The bread basket (grissini with white and black sesame, curry and wild fennel crackers, bread with mother yeast which you can dip in the excellent extra virgin olive oil La Casa dell'Oliva by Giuseppe Piredda, in Cabras) is remarkable; the use of fresh herbs and spices is commendable, adding original charm and complexity on the palate. Some things can be changed, like the excessive use of chips in the composition of the dishes, or the sweet part (two mousses and a Bavarian mousse: better not). But there’s lots of light, as one can tell by our photo gallery.
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso
 

Somu
Via Umberto I 123, San Vero Milis (Oristano)
tel. +39 349 120 0682
Tasting menu for 45 euros


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Photogallery

Mullet marinated with muscovado sugar, cream of tamarind, chips of polenta and powdered liquorice
Calamari with fermented garlic, with celeriac chips. A remarkable use of herbs: thyme, marjoram...
Red ox tartare, spicy sauce, liquorice, wild fennel, summer truffle and lavender leaves
Cold spaghetti with seafood and curry sauce: very good
Aubergine tortelli, peppers and burrata, powdered coffee
Guinea fowl, sauce of Cannonau and mirto
Beer and rocket sorbet
The triple desserts arrive. They’re good, but repetitive: Coffee gelato with dark chocolate mousse and black garlic
White chocolate, tomato jam, olives and basil sorbet
Bavarian mousse with almonds, cream of pepper, Tonka beans and smoked almonds sorbet