How to Dine Like a Celebrity at Sardinia's Most Exclusive Waterfront Retreat
With Italy's only Nobu Matsuhisa and the world's newest Beefbar, Hotel Cala di Volpe is the place to see and be seen at dinnertime.
Nestled in the heart of Sardinia's beautiful Costa Smeralda and resembling a boutique Italian riviera town, Hotel Cala di Volpe, a Luxury Collection Hotel, offers the perfect setting to explore Europe's answer to the Caribbean. Whether you're there to enjoy the white sand beach (accessed via the hotel's private boat), legendary golf course, or indulgent spa treatments, one thing Cala di Volpe is sure to deliver to all of its guests is an unrivaled culinary experience.
With the opening of the newest Beefbar outpost in June, the resort now boasts four world-class restaurants. We arrived just in time for opening night and sampled a wonderful fusion of traditional steak house flavors with modern street food twists from South America and Japan. Born in Monte Carlo in 2005, Beefbar's latest addition has brought much more than just its signature steak knives to Sardinia, including a handful of its most experienced Monte Carlo staff. In an intimate yet modern setting, we enjoyed combining a handful of street food appetizers with a classic sharing cut (think 1.5-kg. tomahawks, Chateaubriands, and double ribeyes), each coming from the finest Wagyu and expertly carved at our table. Among our favorite street food dishes were the Kobe beef bao buns, baby kebabs, and miso spinach salad, so good they risked overshadowing the main event.
While Beefbar offers a refreshing alternative to traditional Sardinian recipes, Cala di Volpe's signature Le Grand restaurant allows guests to indulge in the freshest flavors the wonderful island has to offer. Every meal by executive chef Maurizio Locatelli begins with pane carasau, a rustic local bread with olive oil and fresh-cut rosemary, the name coming from the Sardinian verb carasare, to toast. Sat with views out over the private marina, our jovial waiters prepared most of our dishes at our table, tossing seafood linguine, flambéing garlic prawns, and — having convinced us to make room for dessert — whipping egg yolks, sugar, and Marsala wine over a beautiful copper stove to present us with a delicious zabaglione poured over vanilla gelato.
With the endless fine dining options available, I was delighted to find Cala di Volpe's beautiful outdoor gym and quickly set about establishing a healthy morning routine. A quick 5K run on a treadmill overlooking the sea became the perfect way to work off the previous night's calories and was rewarded with a handmade fresh juice at the hotel's excellent juice bar before breakfast.
By day, the culinary options take on a relaxed, summer vibe as guests are welcomed to the poolside barbecue restaurant, where they can select from a range of fresh fish and meat grilled as they like. I cannot speak highly enough of the John Dory (known in Italy as San Pietro), grilled to perfection, drizzled with lemon and olive oil, and served with an Aperol spritz to wash it down. (I really should have tried to run 10K that day.)
Reopened in July, Cala Beach Club is the spot to dine while basking in the sunshine, serving a selection of oysters, octopus, lobster, and more alongside tropical cocktails and a DJ set steps from the sand.
When staying at the Hotel Cala di Volpe, you are always encouraged to enjoy a sunset aperitif from the hotel's long list of signature cocktails, accompanied by a live pianist. We chose to start most evenings with a bellini before taking the advice of our ever-helpful sommelier who was always on hand to recommend a bottle of local Sardinian wine to compliment our food choices.
Having dined in a number of Nobu restaurants from London to Malibu, I was particularly excited to know that our final night at Cala di Volpe would be spent sampling dishes from chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa's always delicious menu. Set on a wonderful terrace in arguably the most impressive al-fresco dining location in the hotel, Matsuhisa at Cala di Volpe served classic Nobu dishes including black cod, jalapeño-cilantro tuna, and even fresh wasabi grated at our table as we watched the sun set over the bay in front of us.
My only advice if you go is to make sure you stay long enough to try every restaurant in Cala di Volpe's impressive collection — you wouldn't want to leave one out.