Fradis Minoris is a fish restaurant on the southern coast of Sardinia in the town of Pula that has just received its first Michelin star. It is located on the dam that separates the lagoon of Nora from the open sea.
The walk over the dam to the restaurant underlines the very appropriate location for a fish restaurant.
The tables are right at the seafront, with the constant sound of the surf as background music.
There are 4 degustation menus to choose from: 5 courses fish (95 euros), 5 courses fish/vegetarian (80 euros), 7 courses fish (110 euros), and 7 courses fish/vegetarian (95 euros). We opted for 7 courses fish, with wine pairing (80 euros).
We started with a sparkling Vermentino from Sardinia, with the second fermentation in the bottle and aged 66 months on the lees. Quite fresh with notes of bruised apple.
The amuse bouche were really nice. They included smoked tuna on a seaweed cracker, pane carasau with very strong runny cheese, a local cherry tomato, spicy pickled mussels, and a terrine of fish heads.
The first wine was a rosé made from Cannonau (Grenache).
It was a good pairing for the first dish: raw shrimp with apple and seaweed. This dish played heavily on the unctuous texture of the shrimp, which makes it difficult to pair a wine. But the rosé worked.
The dish was accompanied by seaweed bread and shrimp butter, which is butter flavored with the heads of the shrimp (and werved in the shape of a flamingo, a bird that forages on shrimp in the lagoon).
The following wine was an orange wine from autochthonous grapes from Sardinia. It was quite astringent by itself, but with the dish it was very nice.
The second course consisted of two parts: an oyster with homemade kefir, served with burning mirto to provide a smoky scent…
…and raw ricciola (amberjack) with a bell pepper sauce and crispy skin.
The third was another rosé, this time a blend of 10 light skinned and dark skinned autochthonous grape varities. It is not allowed to make rosé by mixing white wine with red wine, but it is allowed to mix light skinned and dark skinned grapes when fermenting the wine. This wine was quite acidic by itself, but again the dish brought out the flavor of the wine.
The dish was ‘buttons’ of fresh pasta filled with highly aged pecorino cheese, served in a concentrated fish soup with scorpionfish tartare. It is usually considered sacrilege in Italian cuisine to mix seafood with cheese, but the chef doesn’t care about rules but only if it tastes good. And the strong flavors of fish soup and cheese did indeed go along, although they were so strong that the scorpionfish only provided a textural element.
It was very thoughtful that some bread was provided to mop up the fish soup afterwards, which is called fare la scarpetta.
The following wine was a Vernaccia from Sardinia, which is not the same grape variety as Vernaccia from Tuscany.
This fruity wine was a good pairing for another ‘sacrilegious’ dish: liguine with pecorino and bottarga. The linguine with the pecorino was prepared in the way of spaghetti cacio pepe, and then a generous amount of bottarga was grated on top of it. A younger version of pecorino was used for this, and the combination was very nice. What made this dish even more special is that the waiter told us he had caught the flathead grey mullet (muggine) himself in the lagoon, and that the bottarga is made from scratch by the restaurant. Bottarga is the salted and cured roe pouch of the grey mullet and a specialty of Sardinia.
As a wine lover and connoisseur I like to try new grape varieties and so I really enjoyed all the unusual Sardinian wines in this pairing. The next one was a Semidano.
It was a good pairing for grilled octopus with pureed lentils and a quince sauce. The octopus was very flavorful and chewy but tender.
The 6th wine was a Malvasia, again not related to the Malvasia from elsewhere in Italy.
This aromatic wine was a good pairing for the grey mullet with squash puree. The fish was moist and cooked to perfection.
It was served with some ‘dashi’.
The dessert wine was a nicely balanced and fresh moscato passito.
It was a good pairing for the chocolate, figs, and seaweed dessert, that was very appropriately shaped like a sea shell and coral.
The friandises were also nice and included mirto, grapes, and chocolate with dulce de leche.
Our first visit to Fradis Minoris turned out to be a very pleasant surprise (as we didn’t know what to expect). The food was very creative. Sometimes perhaps a bit more creative than delicious, but always very tasty and well executed.
I really enjoyed the wine pairings, featuring only wines from Sardinia and only from small producers and most from obscure autochthonous grape varieties. And all of the wine pairings worked, even with some dishes that were difficult to pair with. So next to a talented chef there is a very talented sommelier at work here.
The service was very friendly and knowledgeable, and the staff is very involved with the restaurant. I already mentioned that the waiter is also a fishing from the lagoon. At the start of the meal the service was too slow and the restaurant seemed understaffed even though not all tables were in use, but after a while it picked up and then the pace of the meal was perfect.
I will definitely return next time we are in Sardinia. To finish a photo of the lagoon (with the restaurant in the back) by daylight: