We had good memories of dining at La Saletta in Alghero on Sardinia two years ago, and so we were looking forward to our return. Unlike most restaurants in port town Alghero, La Saletta specializes in meat rather than seafood. And to be more precise: in maialino (suckling pig) and pecora (mutton).
Although La Saletta calls itself a trattoria and the prices are that of a trattoria, the menu, service and presentation of the food are more like a ristorante. There are three tasting menus: one with three courses of maialino (35 euros), one with three courses of pecora (35 euros), and one of five courses that features both (50 euros). For 50 euros it includes a glass of matching wine from Sardinia with each course!
The greeting from the kitchen was a vegetable ‘meatball’ with pickled cucumber.
First antipasto: ‘terrine’ of maialino with all kinds of condiments including figs, and pane lentu. This wasn’t really a terrine as the morsels or maialino were not bound together. They were tender and succulent. The matching wine was chosen to cut through the fat of the maialino: a ‘natural wine’ of Vermentino and Semidano. The latter an obscure autoctonous grape variety. Natural wine can mean all kinds of things and in this case no use of sulphites and no filtering. The result wasn’t bad as natural wines go (can you tell I am not a fan) and quite high in acidity, but not a bad pairing.
The second antipasto: a soft egg with foam of Fiore Sardo cheese and truffle from Sarcidano. This was delicious and full of flavor and paired very well with a Malvasia. This wine was made in an oxidative style with notes of almonds that worked very well with the cheese.
The primo was Filindeu, a very crunchy pasta that seemed to be woven of thin threads of dough. It was filled with a ‘knife chopped’ ragù of mutton that was very flavorful and tender, and served with a fresh tomato sauce with a great tomato flavor. This was matched with a Carignano del Sulcis, another natural wine. The acidity worked well with the tomato sauce, although a more fruity wine would also have worked very well. (Not using sulphites means losing the fruit flavors in the wine.)
The secondo piatto: braised beef cheeks. They were so tender you could eat them with a spoon, and very flavorful. This was served with capers from Selargius and roasted onion. It was paired well with a Bovale, a grape that is known as Graciano in Spain.
Dessert was soft zucchini cake with strawberry sorbet and Gioddu ice cream. Gioddu is fermented sheep’s milk from Sardegna. This was paired nicely with a sweet Malvasia.
The food here is excellent and includes many special local ingredients. The service is outstanding. The price of the degustation including wine pairing is a steal.
There is inside seating and outside on the sidewalk. Because of the traffic inside seating is better. Make sure to make reservations in advance, because it is fully booked every night. I can see why!