In the event you can’t discover the Isola di San Pietro on a map, you’re not the one one. Even many Italians have by no means heard of this tiny Italian island off the southwestern coast of Sardinia. Those that do comprehend it, nonetheless, wax poetic about its beautiful beaches, its charming city referred to as Carloforte, and its tuna.

Once I talked about to a few Italian colleagues that my husband and I had been going to Carloforte this summer season, they each exclaimed, “che meraviglia!” (“How marvellous!”)

Isola di San Pietro, a small Italian Island well-known for its tuna

In Italy, each area has its culinary specialities — the dishes price travelling for. In Carloforte, the speciality is tuna. It’s on the menu at just about each restaurant on the Italian island, ready in additional methods than you’ll be able to think about — uncooked, grilled, smoked, cured, with pasta, on pizza, as appetisers or mains. That’s as a result of Carloforte lies on the trail that tunas take after they migrate by the Strait of Gibraltar and swim to the clear, crystalline waters of Sicily and Sardinia to spawn. They arrive in high form and keep in these calm waters for about two months earlier than leaving the Mediterranean. And so they aren’t the typical yellowfin tunas that you just sometimes purchase canned on the grocery store; these are prized bluefin tunas.

Carloforte Isola di San Pietro
Seashore facet; Picture Cerdit: Laura Itzkowitz

The custom of tuna fishing in Carloforte dates again to 1738, when the city was established by Ligurian sailors despatched to the Tunisian island of Tabarka who resettled on the Isola di San Pietro. These sailors introduced a few of their Ligurian traditions with them, which is why the buildings on the town are painted pastel pinks, blues, and yellows. It’s additionally why the focaccia you’ll discover on the island intently resembles the Ligurian model, and it’s why pesto genovese seems in recipes like the lasagna with tuna and pesto at Da Andrea al Cavallera, probably the greatest eating places on the town. On the seashore bar at Spiaggia La Bobba, you’ll be able to even strive a sandwich referred to as “la tabarkina” made with tuna, pesto, mozzarella, and tomatoes on Ligurian-style focaccia.

We arrived in time for lunch and didn’t waste any time. After a stroll by the city, we grabbed a desk at Incudine Sq. and ordered a tasting of little focaccias topped with tuna. Upfront of our journey, I made reservations on the most extremely beneficial eating places on the town: Da Andrea al Cavallera, Da Nicolo, and Pomata Bistrot, which is run by Nicolo’s son. In order that night at Pomata Bistrot, we tried a caprese salad topped with smoked tuna. On the advice of our resort’s receptionist, we additionally booked a desk at Al Tonno di Corsa.

Italian Island Isola di San Pietro
Canned tuna; Picture credit score: Laura Itzkowitz

“The title appears weird, however in actuality, each Carlofortino is aware of what it’s about,” explains the menu at Al Tonno di Corsa, certainly one of simply two eating places on the town beneficial by the Michelin information. “The Tonno di Corsa (working tuna) is the one captured within the months of Might and June, with full respect to its seasonality. Not by coincidence the Tonno di Corsa can be the very best quality bluefin tuna, exactly as a result of it’s fished within the interval through which its flesh expresses its flavours the very best.”

There, we shared tuna braised in tomato sauce and I attempted one of many few tuna-less dishes we ate on this journey: a standard fava-and-vegetable soup served tepid and referred to as La Bobba in honour of the seashore. However of all of the issues we ate, my favorite was the linguine alla Nicolo, a easy dish of linguine with tuna, capers, olives, pecorino, and freshly grated lemon zest, which has been a staple of Da Nicolo’s menu since 1973.

Italian Island Isola di San Pietro
Culinary delicacies in Isola di San Pietro; Picture Credit score: Laura Itzkowitz

Earlier than we left the tiny Italian island, we made positive to cease by Pescheria Feola to purchase some cans of tuna to convey residence. Not like regular canned tuna, the cans offered in fish markets and supermarkets in Carloforte are divided into completely different cuts that come from completely different elements of the fish and are used for various recipes. Buzzonaglia, packaged in blue cans, is the least prized lower. Darker than the remaining, it comes from the elements that persist with the backbone of a giant tuna, and is often utilized in pasta sauces. Ventresca is probably the most prized lower, the fatty half that comes from the stomach space. Tarantello is lower from the decrease stomach and is softer than a filet however much less fatty than the ventresca. Then there’s bottarga, salted cured roe, which is a beloved native delicacy.

We determined to skip the bottarga, however the fishmonger supplied us a reduction: 4 cans of buzzonaglia for €20 (MYR 88). On the fish market close to our condominium in Rome, the identical cans price €13 (MYR 57)every. To date, I’ve used one of many cans to attempt to replicate the linguine alla Nicolo. Possibly I’ll attempt to replicate Da Andrea’s lasagna subsequent. For the remaining, we’ll simply have to return to Carloforte.

This story first appeared on www.foodandwine.com

(Credit score for the hero and featured picture: Laura Itzkowitz)

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