Sardinian specialties stand out at new Sardinia Restaurant…
Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. With a mild Mediterranean climate, fresh produce, seafood and wheat are staples of the regional cuisine. Fresh-made pastas and wood-oven-baked breads are constants on many menus throughout the island. So, it was with great interest we followed the build-out of Sardinia Restaurant in Sarasota.
Located at 5770 S. Tamiami Trail, in the former Bologna Café building, Sardinia Restaurant has been open for a little more than six months. With a fresh build-out, a small bar area, a good-sized dining room and a private dining area, the décor is casual, simple and slightly upscale. Although we did not experience any noise issues, the tables are close together, and on a busy night, I can see how that might become a problem.
With a focus on authenticity, Chef Dino Carta has imported a hooded wood fired brick oven, which is used daily to bake breads and to prepare many meat and Sardinian specialties. With an emphasis on freshness, the menu at Sardinia offers a good selection of soups, salads, appetizers, meat and seafood. Even though the menu items have a certain “Italian familiarity,” there are slight twists to the ingredients or preparation that give the dishes their Sardinian pedigree.
For our meals, we chose the following:
Rucola, Mozzarella Fresca, Olive, Cetrioli e Pomodori Salad: Organic arugula, fresh mozzarella, marinated Mediterranean olives, cucumber and tomato. $8.95If this is any indication of commitment to freshness, then mission accomplished. Fresh, fresh fresh. A great beginning to your meal.Spinaci Biologici, Noci, Cipolle Caramellate, Caprino e Endivia: Organic spinach, walnuts, caramelized onion, endive and goat cheese. $9.95Once again, a great example of fresh and organic produce, served simply, with a focus on the natural flavors.Calamari Ripieni con Ragu’ di Fave, Fregola e Olive Marinate: Stuffed calamari with fava beans, fregola and marinated Mediterranean olives. $10.95A very nice presentation with a slight briny taste and a slightly chewy texture. Very nice.Pomodoro con Parmigiana di Melanzane al Forno: Brick-oven-roasted tomato stuffed with eggplant and fresh mozzarella. $9.95A definite winner! A unique interpretation of traditional eggplant parm. The sweetness from the tomato melded perfectly with the eggplant and cheese.Insalada Mista di Stagione con Romana, Pollo Grigliato Pomodori, Cetrioli e Parmigiano: Mixed greens, romaine, grilled chicken, tomato, cucumbers and shaved parmesan. $9.95Good-sized portion and fresh, crisp ingredients. The chicken is pounded and then grilled — delightful lunch.Polpo, Finocchi, Rucola e Olio Extravergine d’Oliva: Sandwich of steamed octopus, fennel, arugula and olive oil. (Sandwich comes with choice of side soup or salad.) $10.95Thinly sliced and tenderly grilled with nice fresh flavors. The arugula added a nice peppery flavor — a beautiful sandwich.Fettucini ai Fenghi Misti e Ricotta Salata: Fettuccine with fresh wild mushrooms and dry ricotta. $17.95Fresh pasta cooked “al dente” with subtle flavors of mushroom and cheese throughout.Salmone Selvatico con Pomodorini, Capperi e Origano: Wild salmon with cherry tomatoes, capers and oregano. $22.95I had high expectations for this dish, but was somewhat disappointed — the fish was a tad dry and was lacking the flavor I expected.Spiedino di Gamberoni e Capesante al Forno su Insalata di Fregola: Skewer of jumbo shrimp and sea scallops over fregola salad. $27.95Although the combination of textures was delightful, we found the dish to be lacking in flavor and overpriced for what was served.
Sardinia has the BEST bread service!