Dining Review: Ristorante dell’Agriturismo Sa Rocca Manna – Arzachena, Sardinia
When visiting Sardinia, it is essential that you take an evening and spend it in the countryside for a traditional Sardinian feast. It may require a bit of planning but trust me, it is worth it.
While many spots claim to have the authentic experience, there are some aspects to keep in mind when selecting the restaurant.
- Should be on a farm
- Should not have a menu
- Fixed price for the occasion
I had several spots picked for our trip. During our time in Palau, we booked Sa Rocca Manna as recommended by our Airbnb and also La Salconi closer to the main highway as an alternative. In Alghero, we visited Azienda Agrituristica Sa Mandra.
Be prepared for a long, family style meal. With no menu, you are served what is fresh for the day and consists of multi-course dishes. Both the traditional Sardinian meals we experienced were four hours long! It was like being invited to the family dinner and is truly something unique for Sardinia.
We arrived at Sa Rocca Manna shortly after 8PM to a house on top of the hill giving a beautiful view of the surrounding area as the sun was setting. We were greeted by the farm dogs before meeting with the welcoming owners.
Having some Italian is helpful when visiting this area but you can get along quite far with hand gestures. The owner had enough English and us enough Italian to make the conversation work. We were seated and informed that dinner would start for everyone around 830PM so we started with some house wine as we enjoyed the view, happy to be in Sardinia. As the terrace filled with guests for the evening – five tables altogether – it was time to start our meal.
Cheese and Meat plate with Sardinian Bread
Displays like these are what dreams are made of! Fresh cheeses and meats that are local from the area or even the farm itself. There were two cheeses that included a pecorino (sheep’s cheese) and smoked ricotta, both of which were delicious and extremely fresh. There were four different meats on the other plate that included prosciutto, salumi, lard, and another cut of sliced meat that resembled bacon, all of which were fantastic. Sardinian bread is known as Pane Carasau (also known as Guttiau with and it is thin, crispy bread which is very specific to Sardinia.
At first we did not know what was really on this plate but seeing all the tempura batter was enough to get us digging right in. We quickly discovered that most of the plate was zucchini based and we both agreed that we have never tasted zucchini this delicious. There were thinly sliced zucchini tempura’ed, zucchini flowers tempura’ed and stuffed with cheese (my absolute favorite), zucchini and onions with olive oil, a zucchini patty, and while we were unsure what exactly it was, there was a medley over a pepper. Everything on the plate was amazing and I do not think we will every look at zucchini the same way again.
A beautiful arrangement of three ravioli over a butter sauce and grated pecorino cheese on top along with zucchini and tomatoes. These homemade ravioli were stuffed perfectly with ricotta and herbs. Usually ravioli are a heavier pasta dish but that is the wonder of eating pasta in Italy – is is always light and fresh to not weigh you down. We both really enjoyed this pasta course!
Homemade Gnocchi Sardi with Ragu
We were both surprised to see a second pasta course. This one is a traditional pasta of Sardinia. The term gnocchi in this case refers to the shape and not so much the texture of the pasta as it did not resemble the potato gnocchi. These were light and due to the shape able to collect the good stuff – the gravy. The gravy was a perfect consistency of thickness and full of flavor. The meat was either beef or lamb ground up and cooked perfectly. We loved everything about this dish – this is the type of dish that warms the soul and makes you feel at home. Though I will admit, we were getting quite full at this point and knew there was still a bit of food to go.
Sardinian Porchetta with Wild Boar and Apple Salad
The star of the show arrived – the Sardinian Porchetta (su porcheddu =) – this is the famous dish I had read about. A roasted suckling pig is a popular local dish often served at special occasions or holidays made by roasted over a fire.
Served on the bone with the skin on, the porchetta has such a density of flavor while being very tender. The skin comes out extremely crispy which makes for a great texture contrast to the juicy, succulent meat. The portion size was enormous for just the two of us and we did our best to make it look like we made a dent in the plate. It was so good but my goodness we were so full!
The wild boar was served alongside the pork in a thicker gravy. This would have gone well over some mashed potatoes or more pasta. The boar was very tender and took on the herbiness it was cooked in. The salad was a welcomed green which was very fresh and crispy. I ate as much of it as I could fit for the love of vegetables.
I was so happy to see this dessert appear in front of us as it was another traditional Sardinian dessert I was hoping we would try on this trip. A dessert ravioli is the best description for this dish. It uses semolina flour to make the dough, pecorino cheese stuffed on the inside, and drizzled honey on top after being deep fried. It was a funny thing to taste the sweetness of the honey along with the saltiness of the cheese. We both enjoyed this dessert!
The owner then came around with a few different after dinner drinks which we took small sips to try before wrapping up our evening at Sa Rocca. We could not believe four hours had passed and could also not believe how much food there was tonight. All for 45 euro a person – a deal you cannot beat! What an unbelievable experience and a memorable part of our Sardinia trip.