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Agriturismo Sa Mandra is Sardinian countryside idyll / Credit: Azienda Sa Mandra

Near Olbia

Agriturismo La Colti

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Bag yourself a bounty as this farm-to-table resto

Not far from Cannigione, this raved-about farm-to-table restaurant is your go-to for a serious feast in the Sardinian countryside. The rustic-chic setting is gorgeous: get one of the open-air tables outside the stazzo (farmhouse), and open with a delicious, country-style pasta before moving on to a range of meats that include house-special suckling pig. Dessert is regional specialty seadas (honey-ricotta pastries). 

Strada Arzachena-Cannigione, Cannigione
lacolti.it

L'Essenza Bistrot

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The dishes at this upscale resto are painterly

If you’re mooching around Olbia and in search of a fancy-ish meal, you could do worse than chef Massimiliano Villani’s neo-bistro in the city’s Centro Storico. It’s pretty good value for such imaginative plates of artfully arranged seafood that angle for your Insta attention – think scampi carpaccio with apple-vinegar sauce and cauliflower crudités, or shrimp tortellini in coconut-ginger soup. 

Via delle Terme 10, Olbia
essenzabistrot.com

Phi Beach

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This sleek restaurant draws a sceney

Still very much in vogue with the Costa Smeralda in-crowd, this oh-so-cool beach club in Baja Sardinia includes one of the region’s top tables. With an indoor-outdoor deck over the water, Lombardian chef Giancarlo Morelli holds court with his creative-clever seafood dishes such as red snapper tartare with yuzu sauce or Sardinian fregola with lobster and deep-fried capers. Beware: it's expensive. 

Località Forte Cappellini, Baja Sardinia 
phibeach.com 

Near Cagliari

L'Imperfetto

For that only-in-Italy experience, as well as some of the most true-to-tradition Sardinian cooking on the island, L’Imperfetto has few serious rivals in Cagliari. Set in some stony arches in the Castello, the restaurant does pleasingly simple but accomplished classics such as pane frattau (Sardinian flatbread covered in tomato sauce and poached egg). Book well ahead.  

Via dei Genovesi 111, Cagliari
facebook.com/imperfettoristorante

Sa Piola

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This tucked-away resto is worth finding

Don’t feel bad if you just can’t get enough of classic Sardinian comfort food. Besides, it’s not all seafood. Head to this very-well-regarded, off-street restaurant close to Piazza Yenne in Cagliari’s Old Town for hearty, bone-warming bue rosso (beef) stews and other regional winners like cordula di Bortigali (lamb intestine with peas). Book ahead for the street tables. 

Vico I Santa Margherita 3, Cagliari
facebook.com/RistoranteSaPiola

La Paillote

Justifiably repped as one of Cagliari’s best restaurants, this open-air seaview address between Cala Fighera and Cala Mosca is part of an upscale Cagliari beach club with a kitchen that’s known for fancy but decently sized dishes that range from squid-ink ravioli with tuna buzzonaglia to a simple plate of perfectly fried calamari fritti (fried squid). Unpretentious, in other words, and safe to bring an appetite to. 

Viale Calamosca Cala Fighera, Cagliari
lapaillote.it

Near Alghero

Agriturismo Sa Mandra

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Well worth the 20-minute drive out of downtown Alghero, this beautiful, thoughtfully appointed agriturismo next to the airport could be a day out unto itself: there's a children’s play area and cooking school, plus a delightful, family-run restaurant that specialises in homey, Barbagia-style cooking made entirely from the farm’s produce. It’s a fixed-menu, daily changing affair, but no one leaves here disappointed. Veg-only menu available.

Strada Aeroporto Civile 21, Alghero
aziendasamandra.it/en

Nautilus

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Frutto di mare is the name of the game here

Down on Alghero’s marina, this smart but unstiff seafood specialist excels in artfully presented dishes that show the kind of care and creativity you’d pay a bunch more for in a big city. Book ahead for a sea-view table on the edge of the terrace and clink glasses over dishes such as ridiculously large king lobster linguine or the polpo su crema di ceci (octopus on creamed chickpea). 

Forte della Maddalenetta, Alghero
nautilusalghero.it  

Su Gologone

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It's an open-fire fiesta at this incredible boutique-hotel restaurant / Credit: Alamy

If you fancy a road trip away from Sardinia’s seaside, this quiet boutique hotel close to Nuoro is home to one of the island’s most coveted tables. Not just for its truly glorious countryside setting – wow, those views – but for possibly the island’s best Barbagia-style porceddu allo spiedo (spit-roasted suckling piglet). Other Sardinian staples include the divine culurgiones (ravioli filled with ricotta) and seadas al miele (honey fritters). Definitely book ahead. 

Località su Gologone, Oliena
sugologone.it 

Les Arenes

Simple, unalloyed holiday happiness guaranteed at this long-serving local’s favourite that offers perfect seaside views from an umbrella-covered terrace, plus great-value wood-fired pizzas and other seriously good regional specialities. Book ahead for Sardinia-style seafood paella (with fregola instead of rice), or for your share of the doubly delicious porceddu al forno (suckling pig).

Via Lido 73, Alghero
lesarenes.it