On the eastern coast of Sardinia, in Ogliastra, near Capo Bellavista, we can find the ancient village of Arbatax overlooking the sea. A mosaic of colorful houses and charming streets, surrounded by vegetation where you can admire unique natural sceneries.
This corner of paradise, a landing point that welcomes visitors arriving from the sea, preserves authentic food and wine handed down for generations.
In search of the soul of this heritage of traditions, we walk through the doors of the Arbatasar Hotel restaurant, in the heart of Arbatax. Immersed in an extremely refined and elegant environment, we decide to make a journey into the typical Ogliastra and Mediterranean cuisine, led by chef Alberto Secci and his staff of young cooks.
Relax in a hospitable atmosphere, we let ourselves be guided by the staff. Listening to their proposals we are pleasantly surprised by the fact that the ancient recipes of the sea and land tradition meet high-level gastronomic innovation.
An experience that begins with a sea fantasy, in which there are seven different tastings including the sea bream and sea urchin bundles, the mint marinated breed, the prawn tails in an almond and honey crust, and the swordfish “Scabecciu”.
Dishes that recall the history of the fishermen of Arbatax, because every dish, even those reworked, tells and transmits the flavors and aromas of the cuisine of the past. Just think of the bundles, inspired by sea bream and sea urchin ravioli: delicate pastry enriched with a splash of paprika. Even the dish is not left to chance, with the cocktail sauce garnishing the presentation.
Strictly local fish products, as well as the amberjack carpaccio with seasonal fruit and pink pepper. In fact, as the staff explains: “We follow the agricultural production of the area, so this dish, depending on the period, can perhaps be accompanied by strawberries in spring, peaches in summer, and grapes just before autumn.”
We must admit that the choice of the first was really difficult, given the dishes of Arbatasar connoisseurs. We were intrigued, among others, by the black grouper tortello with the filling made with the prized meats of rockfish, mixed and baked in the oven with potatoes and tomatoes. All rolled in a thin sheet of handmade pasta with cuttlefish ink.
In the future, we promised ourselves to taste linguine with prawns enriched with datterini and lime, as well as fregola with cuttlefish ink creamed with prawns.
We continue this gastronomic journey with a square spaghetti with cheese and pepper, mixed with bites of swordfish marinated in orange. A dish in which the savory taste of the sea is enhanced by the acid freshness of citrus fruits.
Enjoying the pleasant evening we treat ourselves to a great classic of the restaurant: baked redfish with potatoes and cherry tomatoes. A dish prepared with sliced fish and cooked with a particular process, where even the service and presentation follow an elegant ritual.
We cannot help but taste the mixed fried fish, loving the softness and taste of these gifts from the Ogliastra sea.
We also recommend the cannonau beef fillet, the result of long and careful processing where the Ogliastra vine par excellence is the basis of a sauce that enhances and completes the taste of the meat.
Also, try the tuna tataki with sesame with julienne of crispy vegetables with ginger. A local raw material is presented in an exotic recipe.
While sipping a good white wine from the Cantine di Alberto Loi di Cardedu, after tasting a red from the Cantina Antichi Poderi di Jerzu, one of the few suppliers rigorously selected by Arbatasar, we close the dinner in the best possible way, with a dessert. We indulge in a classic sebàda topped with bitter honey that enhances the lemon aftertaste of this typical traditional dessert. For the most demanding also the variant with citrus honey or chili pepper.
This excellence of the island deserves to be accompanied by something special, so we decide to be guided by the staff: the advice is a choice between a pompia and gentian liqueur. We opt for the distillate based on the golden yellow mountain plant, pleasant from the first sip with a spicy and refreshing aftertaste, the result of an ancient recipe.
We leave the place with the awareness of coming back as soon as possible, grateful for having rediscovered the true traditional cuisine combined with innovation and creativity. Because only with passion and in-depth knowledge of one’s land can dishes with a unique flavor be prepared, paying homage to them and preserving their authenticity.
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