WHEN IT COMES to food, there’s an inherent truth to the common adage, “Italians do it better.” Whether it’s an early morning cappuccino or a wine-and-pasta dinner, it’s no secret that even the most basic foods take on an elevated quality. For Chef Hillary Sterling of New York City’s Ci Siamo and her partner Tess McNamara, who heads up the salumi and formaggi program for Eataly’s North American outposts, Sardinia’s gastronomic offerings are a notch above the rest in terms of Italian cuisine.
Sterling, whose own handmade pastas and wood-fired Italian cuisine recently put her on the longlist for a James Beard Award, explains that the landscape shapes the cuisine. “[Sardinia’s] exterior and interior are so different, it’s like night and day,” she says. “The interior can have an almost desert-like terroir — and there’s a lot of animal cookery and cheese — while the exterior obviously is more about the seafood.” There are mountainous regions and lush, undulating hillsides too, where the island’s teeming population of sheep roam freely, hence the abundant varieties of local pecorino cheeses and sheep’s milk ricottas.
The island’s well-preserved, centuries-old traditions, anchored by an anachronistic character, make it unique as Italy’s mainland continues to lure tourists en masse. While the beaches stretching along the island’s northeast coast outside of Olbia (an airport hub) draw their share of vacationers, the couple prefers the northwest quadrant for its quieter charms and accessible agriturismi (working farms that offer meals and overnight stays). Now parents to a hungry toddler, Sterling and McNamara share some of their favorite destinations for relaxed meals, scenic aperitivi alfresco, and markets to pick up a day’s picnic.
Where to Eat
Zia ForicaHomestyle comfort food
Trattoria Marco PoloSurf and turf by way of Catalonia
Su GologoneAn upscale Sunday lunch
Tundu Carasau di OlienaAward-winning pane carasau
Sa MandraThe ultimate agriturismo experience
Where to Drink
Buena Vista BarLaidback sunset aperitivi
MusciarraA very filling happy hour
Where to Shop and Picnic
Un Mondo di FormaggiCheese heaven
Porto Torres Thursday MarketTrack down an illicit cheese
Spiaggia di Cala li CossiA beloved beach and idyllic picnic spot
Laura Neilson Writer
Laura Neilson is an editor and writer of many subjects including fashion and style, travel, food and dining, design, and various persons of interest. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, T Magazine, WSJ Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Vogue.com, Interview, Porter, Marie-Claire, the Business of Fashion, the Village Voice, as well as Refinery29, Fashionista, AD.com, WMagazine.com, and CoolHunting. She lives in Manhattan.