Archive for the Olbia Category

Olbia – eating out

Posted in Italy, Olbia, Sardinia with tags , , , , , , , on March 19, 2016 by gannet39

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).

20150613_210253

Next some fantastically fresh octopus with potato (A+).

20150613_211048

Then some ravioli (B+) accompanied by an excellent tempura prawn (A).

20150613_213605

Then some turbot which was good but needed a bit of salt (B).

20150613_214712

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.

20150613_220627

Can’t remember what the dessert was either (creme brulee maybe?) but it looks nice.

20150613_222645

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).

20150613_220742

I was back a couple of days later for round two.

The Menu di Terra began with egg and asparagus (B)…

20150615_204039

… followed by some veal carpaccio with mojito sauce, potato and smoked with juniper (B).

20150615_204818

The pacchieri alla caprese were nice but a bit cold (B-)…

20150615_210450

…but the veal oot roast with chickpea puree, tomato and anchovies was great (A).

20150615_211728

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.

20150615_220421

For dessert their ricotta-filled seadas with yogurt ice cream were tasty but tiny (B). Dolceaqua (see below) does them better.

20150615_213619

I was finished off with a house mirto and some complimentary chocolates.

20150615_222202

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.

Camera3 024

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).

Camera3 086

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.

Camera3 091

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!

20150613_121747

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.

Olbia – going to the beach

Posted in Italy, Olbia, Sardinia with tags , , , , on March 18, 2016 by gannet39

While Olbia itself might not have much going for it, there are several good beaches in both directions along the coast. I’ve plotted them all on my Google map. I was only in Olbia for three days on my second visit in 2015, but one of them was on a Sunday when I wasn’t working, so I managed to get a bit of beach time.

Another place you could consider going is the nearby island of La Tavolara, which is one of Sardinia’s most famous beauty spots.

However one local couple I met felt that the trip via ferry was more hassle than it was worth at this time of year (pre-season June) and that it was nicer to be on a beach that had a good view of the island. This webpage has more information if your interested.

The ferry to the island leaves from the small village of Porto San Paolo. To get there from Olbia you need to take the southbound #5 bus but it only runs a few times a day before the peak season starts, around July 15th.

Funnily enough I worked at the school in Porto San Paolo in 2013 and on the way back to town the teacher stopped off at Spiaggia Porto Istana, a nearby beach, so I could get a nice view of La Tavolara. The teacher said this was the beach where she personally spent the summer.

Camera3 006

Due to the lack of buses I decided to head instead in the opposite direction on the #4 bus towards Spiaggia Pittalongu, a twenty-minute drive to the north.

I got on the bus at Via San Simplicio, but if you want a seat, it would be advisable to get on a stop or two earlier because by the time I got on, it was already full with tourists, local kids and beach hawkers with their huge bags of tat.

I meant to ask the driver for Lo Squalo (a recommended beach bar) but I ended up going to the end of the line to Spiaggia Bados. Any of the preceding four stops would have been fine for Pittalongu as it’s a very long beach. I think Lo Squalo is the fourth stop on Pittalongu.

I could easily have walked back but Spiaggia Bados seemed like a nice, relatively quiet spot and it had a nice view of La Tavolara on the horizon.

20150614_104208

I hunkered down in front of Bar Bados (geddit?), one of the two bars on the beach. Sun loungers (lettini) here are €6 for the day, and an umbrella another €6, which is quite expensive given I paid €6 for both in Alghero the previous weekend.

20150614_153030

The food at Bar Bados is fine but nothing special, as is usually the case at the beach. I had Spaghetti con Arselle, which was a bit too salty and not al dente (C+).

20150614_145205

Arselle by the way, are known as Coquinas in Spanish and English, and are a member of the Donax bivalve family. By contrast Vongole, which are more commonly eaten in Italy, are in the Veneridae family of Venus clams.

I also had grilled squid which thankfully is hard to get wrong (B).

20150614_151325

And that was my day off. The next day it was time to say goodbye to Sardinia and head back to the mainland.

When you fly, make sure you look out of the window to catch a glimpse of the beautiful azure blue waters along the coast. I really must come back some time with the yacht.

Olbia – out and about

Posted in Italy, Olbia, Sardinia with tags , , , , , on March 17, 2016 by gannet39

Olbia is the main town in the north-east of Sardinia and is the airport for the Costa Smerelda, the super-rich enclave developed by the Aga Khan and a group of international investors. It’s the capital of Gallura which was one of the four independent kingdoms of Sardinia in the Middle Ages.

I’ve broken my posts into three topics, this one about some of the hotels, delis and sights and others on the beaches, and the restaurants. Here’s my Google map with all the places mentioned in this post.

I was here twice in eighteen months. The first time was in the off season in mid-December 2013 for just four nights. A few months earlier this Northern tip of the island had suffered a tornado which caused a lot of damage but most of the repairs had been done by the time I arrived.

In 2013 I stayed at the Hotel Stella 2000 www.hotelstella2000.eu at 70 Viale Aldo Moro, in the more modern part of the town. The hotel is small and basic with a limited breakfast but strong, free wi-fi and friendly non-English-speaking staff. It’s a 20 minute walk to the old town on the other side of the railway tracks but there are lots of shops and eateries nearby. Apparently their own restaurant is highly renowned but I didn’t get round to trying it.

The second time I came in June 2015 I stayed at the Hotel Panorama www.hotelpanoramaolbia.it at 7 Via Giuseppe Mazzini in the heart of the old town. It was a huge improvement (better location, rooms, breakfast and communication with staff) and lived up to its name with a 360 degree vista from its windy sun deck on the roof (video here). La Tavolara looms large on the horizon.

You also get a good view of the lovely multi-coloured tiled roof of Chiesa di San Paolo Apostolo on Via Cagliari.

20150615_183015

Camera3 081

I think the oldest building in town is Basilica Sam Simplico on Via Fausto Noce, named after the patron saint of the town, which dates from the 11th century.

Camera3 056

There is apparently a Nuraghe in the industrial part of town north of the harbour but I got lost as soon as I tried to walk there.

One day I stumbled across Stella Sapori Sardegna (133 Corso Umberto), a deli specializing in Sardinian specialties. ‘Peter’ the owner is a talented salesman and will declaim at length in a hybrid of English and local dialect about the quality of his goods.

He also has a head for numbers and will tell you exactly how many DOP’s and cheeses you can find on the island (full national list here), as well as the exact weights and heights of his son and Chinese wife (who he met during a professional fishing competition in Shanghai) at various points in their lives whilst showing you his scrapbooks and family photo albums.

The samples of local flatbreads, Salami al Mirto, Peretta, Casilbolu and Tavedda sheep cheeses, honeys and drinks (‘nougat’, mirto and limoncello) were so numerous I didn’t feel the need for lunch afterwards!

After such hospitality, it would have felt churlish not to have bought something (he knows what he’s doing!) so I went for some prickly pear jam, hazelnut honey and a bottle of the famous myrtle-berry (myrto) liqueur, the latter costing €21.

I coveted his Limoncello di Pompia (made from very special lemons) but at €44 a bottle I couldn’t quite bring myself to fork out for it. I later picked up a bottle at the airport for much less and was glad I did as it’s amazing (A).

Camera3 054

I was also fascinated by some of the local pastas; Lorighittas (twisted loops) and Su Filendeu (fibrous sheets) which are made by only a couple of remaining producers and retail at a hefty €25 for 500g. Everything is handmade however so the steep prices are probably justified.

Camera3 053

Peter threw in a free pack of Pane Guttiau (a version of Pane Carasau, the famous shepherd’s flatbread, but with the additions of olive oil and salt) as a sweetener before I said goodbye.

Camera3 051

On another occasion I found another small deli/wine-seller called Sensazioni di Sapori Sardi near the market (at 71 Via Regina Elena I think) and bought some Abbamele a kind of concentrated honey found only in Sardinia. A very special product indeed.

The market is near here on Via Dattori, but I was unable to get there when it was open.

Piazza Matteotti is the centre of the town but there isn’t anything to see there except a rather ugly modernist statue and fountain. A stroll or jog along the waterfront is a slightly more pleasant option.
Camera3 044

It was pretty quiet when I first went in December but I’m sure it livens up a lot in the summer. Indeed when I went the second time in June I happily coincided with a beer and sausage festival along Corso Umberto, the main street through town.

It seemed very popular with the locals, unlike these two policemen who foolishly decided to drive along the street while the festival was in full flow. The authorities aren’t well-liked at the best of times and I was glad I wasn’t in their shoes.

20150613_235502

In conclusion then there isn’t much to excite you about Olbia itself but it is an important jump off point for tourists to more interesting places nearby. And of course the food is good (see next post).

%d bloggers like this: