Here’s a Google map of all the places I mention below. I’ve put them in order of preference in terms of food.
I really like this first place for seafood.
Osteria del Mare (Advanced A/B+), 8 Via del Terme, www.osteriadelmare.it
I came here twice in three nights and had different but still very good experiences each time, hence the split rating.
Each night I had a tasting menu, first the seafood for €50, and then the meat for €40, both of which involved seven courses and included a bottle of house wine which, given the standard of the service and the presentation, was excellent value.
The seafood experience began with an amuse bouche of prawns with yogurt (A).
Next some fantastically fresh octopus with potato (A+).
Then some ravioli (B+) accompanied by an excellent tempura prawn (A).
Then some turbot which was good but needed a bit of salt (B).
My notes go to pot here as I got chatting with a friendly couple on the next table. This looks like grilled tuna steak. I’m sure it was good.
Can’t remember what the dessert was either (creme brulee maybe?) but it looks nice.
A bottle of the house Vermentino (B) was included in the price, however I added a glass of Lupus in Fabula which is an excellent local wine (A).
I was back a couple of days later for round two.
The Menu di Terra began with egg and asparagus (B)…
… followed by some veal carpaccio with mojito sauce, potato and smoked with juniper (B).
The pacchieri alla caprese were nice but a bit cold (B-)…
…but the veal oot roast with chickpea puree, tomato and anchovies was great (A).
The house red was just okay (B) but the extra glass of ‘Meno Buio’ Carignano from a fat little bottle was fantastic (A). The Carignan grape is a local varietal that seems to have Spanish origins.
For dessert their ricotta-filled seadas with yogurt ice cream were tasty but tiny (B). Dolceaqua (see below) does them better.
I was finished off with a house mirto and some complimentary chocolates.
The service I got was excellent. I received fresh cutlery for each dish and the plates had been warmed, a rarity in Italy. The tasting menus should be for two but it wasn’t a problem to just cater for one. Definitely a place I want to come back to. Maybe reserve if you want to sit on the small terrace on a nice day.
Ristorante Dolceacqua (High Intermediate A), 4 Via G.Palo, www.ristorantedolceacqua.com, closed Monday
After reading about it in Lonely Planet, I came here for Sunday lunch and the food and service I got was very good.
I had the Gamberi alla Catalana, a prawn salad (B+), to start and for the pasta course, spaghetti with squid, artichokes and bottarga (A). The food was even served on a warm plate, hallelujah!
For dessert, I had Seada con Miele e Scorzette de Arancia which is a kind of crepe filled with ricotta and doused with honey and served here with orange zest. It stood out as the best of several versions I have tried (A+). With a bottle of wine and a limoncello this all came to €60.
Antica Trattoria Pizzeria (Intermediate B), 1 Via delle Terme, www.anticatrattoriaolbia.com
Recommended by both Peter the shop owner (I think they are his customers/friends) and the Daily Telegraph, this spot seems a bit touristy but was full of locals on the Saturday night I went in December, perhaps due to its location just opposite the cinema.
The interior is quite modern but nods to tradition with local ceramics and old maps of the island on the walls. They have three kinds of Menu Touristico at €15, €20 and €25 which are a pretty good deal. The service was fine, the food just okay.
For my primo, I had the Gnocchi di Farina Galluresi, some unusually textured pasta made from spelt and tossed in a simple but tasty tomato sauce (A).
I followed up with the Arrosto Misto di Carne, a mixed grill involving a pork chop, bacon on the bone, a sausage and a slice of lamb, all of which were fine but plain and uninteresting (B-). Even though I had skipped lunch in preparation, I couldn’t finish it.
I had Patatine Fritte as a side which were probably McCains by the look and taste of them (C). The small portion of roast potatoes that came with the meat were fine though (B) so maybe order Patate al Forno instead.
To go with these a bottle of the house red Cannonau di Sardegna (Sella-Mosca 2009) www.sellamosca.com which was a good choice (B+) for the €10 asking price.
Finally, the ubiquitous Seadas, again. They were mediocre but did the trick (B).
With this a glass of Su F’ile Ferru aka ‘Rod of Iron’, the local grappa, but the homemade version here had a strange aftertaste (C). The name comes from the practice of using a thick piece of wire to indicate the hiding place of the secretly buried bottle!
I came here again in 2015 for lunch and had the €20 menu which was fine but not particularly exciting.
La Lanterna (Intermediate B), 13 Via Olbia, www.ristorantelalanternaolbia.it
Another Lonely Planet pick, handy for the Hotel Panorama. I had an okay Pizza Margherita here (B). With cover, two beers and a limoncello the bill came to €24. It’s very popular so I’d recommend making a reservation.
Ristorante da Paolo (Intermediate A), 27 Via Garibaldi
I had a good seafood set menu for lunch here. Three courses with house wine came to €32.50. Nice old place but a bit dark and slightly gloomy brightened by pleasant service. It’s very near the Hotel Panorama.
Near the Hotel Stella, on the other side of the tracks in the new town:
Pizzeria L’Antico Borgo (B) 12 Via de Fabris, Turn right out of the Hotel Stella and turn right at the fifth side street, you’ll see its terrace on the right.
One of many pizzerias in the area but this one seems to be the most popular with the locals, and is open the latest. They let me in just after 11pm to get my fix of Pizza Margherita (the ‘Buffalo Bill’ with buffalo mozzarella and cherry tomatoes). I’d been fantasising about my first Margherita for several weeks before coming and this one hit all the right buttons (B+).
Several Belgian beers were on the menu but at €10 or more a bottle, I settled for the local Ichnusa which was fine. Factoid: Sardinians are the biggest consumers of beer per person in the whole of Italy at 60 litres per person per year!
By the way, the flag you can see on the bottle (and everywhere in Sardinia) is the St.George cross with four Moor’s heads in each corner, the history of which is quite interesting.
Total cost was €15 with a complimentary flask of limoncello. I liked the Christmassy atmosphere here, very cosy and warm. The service is very young and inattentive but friendly. Perhaps avoid the indoor terrace where they have a patio heater pumping out carbon monoxide. These things should be outside.
As far as bars are concerned, I quite liked the laid back atmosphere of the intimate Jazz Art Café (at 129 Viale Aldo Moro, just before you get to the turn for L’Antico Borgo) with its chilled musical vibes, although I wouldn’t make a pilgrimage to come here. A limoncello costs €3.
Some places to avoid in the old town:
I had a mediocre Pizza Margherita (C+) at Pizzeria Trocadero at 14 Via Achenza. The brightly coloured décor is quite alarming. With cover, wine and a limoncello the bill came to a reasonable €17. La Lanterna above has better food and ambiance but is a bit more expensive I think.
Ristorante Il Gambero di Roberta Serra at 6 Via La Marmora was a Lonely Planet pick many years ago but is no longer listed by them. It was empty every time I passed by.
The legendary restaurant of the Hotel Gallura at 145 Corso Umberto is mentioned in many guides and articles but sadly it’s now permanently closed.
Please see my separate posts for things to see in Olbia and beaches nearby.
Photos uploaded January 2015 and March 2016.