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Aug 2, 2012 06:14 AM

Suggestions in (or close to) Alghero/Sardinia?

My wife and I are going on a trip there on Sunday, and we would love to try any place that is noteworthy, for lunches or dinners. Alghero does not seem to come up much here on Chowhound yet, so any suggestions are much appreciated. Pedramare, a few kilometers south of Alghero was mentioned on the Italy board as being outstanding. That we have already booked.

Any other suggestions for Chowhound restaurants that would please Chowhounders? We will not have a car all the time, so within Alghero would be best, but outside Algerho (like Pedramare) would be interesting as well. We speak Italian, so language is not an issue.

And some specific questions:
a) Has anyone tried the aperitivo at the fancy Villa Las Tronas?
b) Is Andreini over the top or actually interesting and good value? Looks overpriced.
c) Where is the best gelato? Tripadvisor mentions Gelateria Igloo, is it indeed the best?

Thanks a lot for all feedback!

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  1. Andreini! That's the name! Yes, both the restaurant and the adjacent trattoria. Very good. I stayed at Las Tronas long ago before the prices started to climb and utterly loved it. I'd go for an aperitivo just to visit the place. No clue as to gelato.
    Ai Tuguri should be pretty good, though I haven't been in years, also right in town.

    3 Replies
    1. re: mbfant

      A few years ago, we were in Sardina for the second time. We covered most of the island. We two outstanding meals, many good meals and one mediocre/poor one. The key thing to remember is that it is clear that the best of the Sardinian dishes are prepared in the homes. Many dishes are labor intensive and require a lot of last minute preparation, something most restaurants are unwilling/can’t do. Most of the restaurants prepared a few, but very few classic dishes. The better restaurants and trattorias (we had eleven meals) are essentially preparing the same basic fish and meat dishes, and most of the same antipasti and primi. There is nothing wrong with that. The key is to wind up in the places that are serving the freshest fish and top quality meat for secondi, and places that know how to prepare antipasti and primi. This cuisine is unlike, for example Piemonte or Emilia-Romagna, where restaurants and trattorias will have many, many dishes that are typically cooked at home (but in restaurants, much better much of the time).

      Il Cormorano in Castelsardo, 25 miles from Sassari and 50 miles from Alghero, was excellent in all respects. A simple restaurant near the port, with a wonderful owner, Renato Pinna, who oversees the dining room, recommends wines (from an incredible list) helps serve when necessary and in general makes sure you are happy. Everything fresh from the sea… really fresh. A number of specials every day depending on the catch. A chef who knows how to treat fish, in antipasti, primi and secondi. Maccheroncini alla polpa di cozze con zucchine e basilico; il tortino di patate con insalata di polpi; Paccheri giganti di Gragnano al ragù di capone di mare . Excellent desserts which is very unusual for Sardinia, especially
      Raviolo fritto con miele di corbezzolo And on and on. Not your normal Sardinian fish trattoria

      Dal Caorsaro in Cagliari. A slightly more upscale, very comfortable restaurant in the heart of the city. Again, relatively simple, mostly classic preparations (a few creative dishes, but very few) of the freshest fish. The menu has meat dishes as well, but why bother. Gnocchetti di ceci e salsa ai frutti di mare; Gallinella di mare nel suo brodetto profumato, vongole e verdurine stufate; Brodetto di Pesce, Gambero e Molluschi del golfo. Excellent service and a very good, very reasonably priced wine list.

      The one mediocre/poor meal was Andreini in Alghero. We went there just before it got its Michelin star). I only mention that because the prior poster did... it really means nothing. A large sprawling place, with many different rooms, we sat on “the terrace” and proceeded to have a meal where the service was inept and the food was an embarrassment ( a kitchen that didn't know what it was doing). Perhaps it is because the chef tries to be “too cute” and too creative by half. He has a philosophy… clearly spelled out, although it reads like gibberish. Some of the usual dishes e.g. linguine aglio, olio e ricci di mare; zuppa di frutti di mare and a number of meat dishes as well. Then you have his creative side, not that bad, but nonetheless his cooking is poor: sfogliatina caldo di bottarga di tonna, pomodoro e crema di pecorino; raviolini alle seppie, cardoncelli, brodetto di mandorle. It wasn’t only the dishes, it was that the preparation was poor, the plating was poor and the service was poor and bordering on condescension (my goodness, there were only four of us… can’t the kitchen prepare the dishes we ordered!?). Then there was the wine. The chief waiter brings out the first bottle to the table, already opened (mistake number one) and then has opened the wrong wine (mistake number two) and then wants us to have this wine and not the one we ordered (mistake number three). It was a long evening with slow service. We couldn’t wait to get out of there.

      1. re: allende

        allende, thanks for these hints, much appreciated. I definitely have doubts about Andreini now and can easily imagine my own experience going like yours. It is very hard to find ambitious restaurants in Italy that in fact get things right, and are not just silly. Sounds to me as if Andreini is headed in the latter direction. But mbfant mentions a trattoria next door run by the same team, we will have a look at both and then decide.

        The two places you mention sound excellent. If we manage to go that far we will give them a try. Much appreciated! I will report back what we managed and found.

      2. re: mbfant

        Thank you , mbfant. I saw your other post as well, I had guessed you meant Andreini, I think it still is the only starred place in town. We will probably give the adjacent trattoria a try then. And we will definitely try Las Tronas for aperitivo, it looks great. I hope to report back here how it went in a few days.

      3. We are back from our trip, which was very nice, but in a nutshell, it is probably fair to say that we were not too impressed with food in and around Alghero generally. Very touristy, very average, slightly overpriced for what it is. We did not encounter a single restaurant that we thought was really interesting or oustanding.

        We did not try Andreini in the end. Seemed overpriced.

        We did try La Speranza, on La Speranza beach. The food was nice, but expensive and a bit too simple. The restaurant certainly is not nice and has no AC, which makes eating difficult in the summer (we probably had 35 degrees Celsius in the dining room, insane!).

        We also tried Pedramare (mentioned in another post). Again, we found it slightly disappointing. Great view and good food, but not outstanding, and the service was clearly overwhelmed. Maybe we were also unlucky because it was a windy day, and because of little by way of protection, glasses kept falling of tables around us. It was also not completely clear to me whether we were actually eating in the restaurant or in the bar. If it was the bar, which I suspect, I would advise to eat in the restaurant (much more protection from sun and wind)

        Finally, we also tried aperitivo at the fancy Las Tronas. That was a disappointment. The hotel is classy, but the setting feels almost dead, with barely any people around (and those that are, are busy with their Ipads and laptops). Aperitivo was okay quality, but atmosphere was really zero, despite the beautiful surroundings.

        My guess is overall, i) there are far too many tourists and ii) Sardinia is an economically poor place, so cooking is less developed/refined than in, say, Liguria.

        We had a fantastic time, but I would not recommend Sardinia as an explicit Chowhound destination, that it clearly is not. No wonder that there are very few posts about Sardinia on the board here, I guess.

        7 Replies
        1. re: greatgatsby

          Thanks for the follow-up. If more people would do that, it would help a lot of people. And thanks also for telling it like it is.

          1. re: greatgatsby

            Sardinia IS economically poor, not that any part of Italy is feeling flush these days, and there ARE too many tourists there, but only in July and August, which is why we would never go then. The rest of the time the food is great, the people are gracious, the scenery fascinating, and everything pretty much delightful. It's not the sensory and cultural heavy hit of Sicily, but it's also more relaxing for that reason. We're planning a trip in September thanks to a meeting in Oristano.

            1. re: mbfant

              I'm heading to Alghero late May/early June (hopefully missing the tourist season!) and looking for recommendations - did you have any outstanding meals or recs you could make? To note, I will be a solo dinner so places that are comfortable for just one person would be great.

              1. re: pj26

                The best experience we had was Pedramare. Not sure whether they are open in May/June, though. Certainly comfortable solo.
                If you can, please add your feedback here once you are back, there is too little info on Sardinia in the Alghero region right now, I feel. Thanks, pj26!

                1. re: greatgatsby

                  Great, thanks for that. Will definitely post with hopefully some very positive reviews!

            2. re: greatgatsby

              Hmm; it's really too bad I didn't see this earlier; I go to Alghero every year on a workshop, and have become fairly familiar with the town. For the benefit of others who might be looking here in future, here's what I've found.

              1) It's really too bad you didn't try Andreini; you have to ignore, I think, the "overrated" comments, or rather apply the filter that understands that, whenever a restaurant acquires a high reputation, and particularly a Michelin star, there is always going to be a group of people who cry overrated. The reasons for this are complex but a large proportion of them are unrelated to the actual food on offer. I've never failed to be impressed with Andreini, and while it's expensive compared to a run-of-the-mill restaurant, compared to other Michelin-starred restaurants in Italy (which typically run at 80-100€/person, it's astonishing value, especially if you choose the lunch special.

              2) Al Tuguri is another one worth trying. If service is more important to you than the food, or if at any rate anything less than the type of service that makes you feel like a cherished friend leaves a bit of a bad taste in your mouth, then you should prefer Al Tuguri over Andreini because the service at the former is charming in every way.

              3) Il Pavone and La Lepanto have had strong reputations for years. The food there won't blow your mind, nor is it anything particularly sophisticated, but for a reasonable meal on the better side of quality and prices that, while still not cheap, aren't splurge level, they're worth considering.

              4) The best ice cream, by far, is Gelateria Arcobaleno, in a very prominent position in Piazza Civica. The one downside is that they tend to shut earlier in the evening than the other gelaterie in Alghero. You do have to be selective though because a lot of the others are really quite poor.

              5) The same can be said for a large number of other restaurants in Alghero, in common with most other towns and cities, especially ones with a tourist slant. If you just make a random selection, you're likely to be disappointed. Some sources are particularly unreliable - such as TripAdvisor.

              6) Note that the places I've mentioned are all well-known. Again, that's going to be typical of a small town like Alghero; it's unlikely that you'll have any real "discoveries", in the sense of somewhere wonderful but unknown in the guides, simply because it's too easy to comprehensively canvass the area, and the good places will quickly make themselves apparent, everybody will know who they are, and that sort of ends that.

              1. re: AlexRast

                We went to Alghero last February, en route to the Sartiglio at Oristano, and stayed at Las Tronas (a bargain at that time of year). We had one dinner there, which my companions didn't care for but I thought was fine, and were told Andreini had closed permanently, not just for the season. Tuguri was closed for the season, but we liked it when we went years ago.

            3. Just returned from Alghero where I had the pleasure of dining @ O. Only open 10 weeks but the ethos obviously flows from the top Eoghain O'Neill is the masterchef. Enjoyed the fish tasting menu so much came back that we came back to enjoy the land tasting menu which was even better. The medley of flavours was complemented by exquisite presentation. The land tasting menu began with an amuse bouche of a shot of cauliflower cheese/ spoon of smoked duck salad and spoon of tempura fried sea bass in local spicy tomato sauce. Next was smoked duck breast on sweet onion marmalade dressed with foie gras. The lamb ravioli in rich sauce with orange and basil foam was to die for. The main event was smoked irish fillet of beef with micro vege and mash. Then there was a fruit based shot for cleansing the palate both first sweet then savory. Which set up the outstanding dessert selection which I have to admit I was too busy eating the take much notice of the nuances. Staff are young and eager but the chef taking time out during service for meet and greet was lovely. Best of all I got to see the kitchen. Seating on the old town wall overlooking the marina is magic. Haven't enjoyed a meal this much since the Garden Restaurant on Sentosa Island Singapore!

              11 Replies
              1. re: holtcd

                Just out of curiosity, what did this meal have to do with the food of Sardinia?

                  1. re: Gio

                    You really have to be careful about restaurants that have "master" chefs... and master chefs who have more advertising on their master chef's jacket than a Formula 1 driver.

                    1. re: Gio

                      very weird webpage - including the switch from badly translated english to Italian midway, and the reference to a different chef in the italian section - along with a vodka bar and pizza....

                      1. re: jen kalb

                        Very weird web page indeed, among other things. O'Neil is quite enamored with himself... poor Chef Pasquale doesn't get a rec.

                        1. re: Gio

                          fwiw looks like very heavy shilling for this place on tripadvisor. doesnt mean it isnt wonderful, of course.

                          1. re: jen kalb

                            There are very few reviews of this restaurant on TripAdvisor as it is recently opened. I visited in June of this year and was truly impressed with the service, the ambience and particularly the food. It's a gorgeous place and far superior to anywhere else in Alghero (and a lot of other places). I've recommended it to others and haven't heard a single bad report yet.

                            Just to address the Masterchef title - this isn't representative of someone who is enamoured with himself. It's an actual job title bestowed on those who have reached the top of their game. For example there is the Head Chef who is in charge. When s/he is absent, the Sous chef (second in charge) takes over. The Masterchef is in charge of all chefs and has worked long and hard to a regularly high standard to attain that title. I'm sure those who've achieved it are pretty annoyed with the BBC program title. Those who win on the program are entitled to call themselves BBC Masterchef of the Year and it will no doubt land them a job as a chef in a good restaurant but they will be apprentices only.

                            Anyway I've never written on chowhound before so I suppose I could be considered a schill. All I can say is that I'm not. I don't know Eoghain O'Neill and have no connection to his restaurant. Six of us ate there in June with not one complaint. It was an all round great experience.

                            1. re: Frances12345

                              FWIW, I am very aware of restaurant kitchens,in France, America and Italy, and job titles.

                              Just to set the record straight, the person who is in charge of the kitchen, whether it is in France, America or Italy is simply called "Chef." Not "Head Chef" not "Masterchef", simply "Chef."

                              As to "the Masterchef title" you said: "It's an actual job title bestowed on those who have reached the top of their game." Can you tell us who bestows it?

                              BTW, would you tell us what you ate and drank at the restaurant and where else you ate in Alghero? Thanks.

                              1. re: allende

                                Once again the meaning of words is ignored. Because so many people don't know what chef means, they use it as a synonym of "cook" and thus are left empty-handed when they need a word that means, appunto, chef -- don't you think? Hence the qualifiers.
                                BTW, and off topic, we are going to Lorenzo in Forte this Wednesday, very excited.

                                1. re: mbfant

                                  Don't get that excited:) Make sure to ask Lorenzo about all the specials for the day. And make sure he (or his daughter) takes your order . If not, you might not find out everything for the day. And see if he has the stuffed calamaretti that day.

                                  Don't forget, this is not a fish trattoria, but upscale, but with simple fish and seafood. Have you started withdrawing the necessary shekels from your bank account to pay for it or you can just ask one of the Russians at an adjoining table take care of the check:)

                                  Have fun. We were there another three times this spring (for lunch; no lunch of course in the summer) and it remains as good if not better than the first time we were taken there
                                  more than thirty years ago by Sauro Brunicardi and all the times since.

                                  In all seriousness, have fun and enjoy your dinner.

                                  ps did you and Franco ever get to Scolapasta in Castigleoncello as you said you might?

                                2. re: allende

                                  I realise that in a kitchen environment reference is made as simply 'Chef' but every profession has it's own language by which they rate or introduce one another and masterchef is one such title, recognised by the industry.

                                  Last year we stayed in the Domomea Hotel and ate in Paco's, Adrienni's, Mirador, and Machievelli's. Out of the above, Adrienni's was a huge disappointment and I couldn't believe it had a Michelin star and said so on TripAdvisor.

                                  This year it was a shorter stay and we stayed in the Catalunya because of its location. We went back to Paco's and Machievelli's. There were six of us so on our last night we went to Ristorante O, checking it out at lunchtime first. At lunch we all had pizzas or pasta. I can't remember what everyone had for dinner but I had smoked duck to start followed by fillet of beef and rounded it off with a chocolate and pistachio dessert. That description doesn't do the food justice as it was like a work of art on a plate. My husband had the fish taster menu but they mixed it with some of the meat taster at his request. It was six courses with wine served at each so he was fairly flying by the end of it.

                                  I can't remember the names of the desserts but here are some photos I took of them.