In case 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 understand it, nevertheless, wax poetic about its beautiful beaches, its charming city known 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 time, 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 value 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 once 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 simply usually purchase canned on the grocery store; these are prized bluefin tunas.

Carloforte Isola di San Pietro
Seashore aspect; 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 carefully 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, among the best eating places on the town. On the seaside bar at Spiaggia La Bobba, you’ll be able to even attempt a sandwich known 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. Prematurely 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 lodge’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 identify appears weird, however in actuality, each Carlofortino is aware of what it’s about,” explains the menu at Al Tonno di Corsa, one in all simply two eating places on the town beneficial by the Michelin information. “The Tonno di Corsa (operating 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 highest 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 known as La Bobba in honour of the seaside. 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 carry house. In contrast to regular canned tuna, the cans offered in fish markets and supermarkets in Carloforte are divided into totally different cuts that come from totally different components 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 components that persist with the backbone of a giant tuna, and is usually utilized in pasta sauces. Ventresca is essentially the most prized lower, the fatty half that comes from the belly 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 provided us a reduction: 4 cans of buzzonaglia for €20 (MYR 88). On the fish market close to our residence 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. Perhaps I’ll attempt to replicate Da Andrea’s lasagna subsequent. For the remaining, we’ll simply have to return to Carloforte.

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

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