The Shardana is one of those restaurants that you walk by a 1,000 times and think it would be interesting to try but you never get around to it. Off the bat, the name is a little different, as in it doesn’t automatically tell you what type of cuisine it is. Obviously if we are talking about the Jade Panda, Tandoori Spices or Casa di Luigi you know what you are going to get.
It turns out that the Shardana is a Sardinian restaurant, meaning “Sea People” in the Sardinian language. I know little about the island of Sardinia and even less about their cuisine but it was my turn to pick the restaurant for “date night” so I made a reservation for two and got my LBD ready.
Sardinia is Italy’s second largest island and the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. It’s also a geographical and political region of Italy, famous for its beautiful beaches and fascinating history. Sardinia’s closest neighbor is the French island of Corsica to the north. To the south and even closer than Sicily are Algeria and Tunisia. With these neighbors and the rich farmlands, forests and coastline you can count on a cuisine rich in inspiration.
The history of Sardinia can be traced back to 8.5 million years ago! The island’s main industry is tourism and in the little that I’ve read about the island it seems to be a fascinating place to visit paired with perfect weather. Between 1900 and 730 BC there were nearly 8,000 stone structures built called nuraghe and they are still standing today! These stone structures have become well known and are often seen on post cards and tourist brochures for the island. The purpose of these dwellings are still up for debate- maybe they were built for a military purpose, a religious purpose or they might have even been just ordinary residences. Just for reference, for the Americans reading, our “First Thanksgiving” was in 1621, that’s 395 years ago. These structures are over 3,000 years old!
Over many centuries Sardinia has survived countless invasions by the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Arabs and Byzantines. Finally in 1861 the island joined the newly created Kingdom of Italy. After World War II, Sardinia received autonomy and held their first regional elections on May 8, 1949. It is now considered an autonomous region of Italy.
Just as the French are extremely proud of the region they come from, often saying they are first Alsatian, Breton, Corse, etc. before they are French, the Italians are equally as fond of their distinct regions and cuisines.
My husband and I arrived at the restaurant and were greeted warmly by the hostess/waitress, one half of the restaurant’s staff; the other half is the chef! We ordered our dinners and enjoyed a glass of Cannonau di Sardegna, a Grenache, while we waited.
For my starter I had pan sautéed octopus with Jerusalem artichoke cream. My husband had la panzanella, which is mozzarella di buffalo stuffed with panzanella. Panzanella is a Tuscan salad of bread and tomatoes that is popular in the summer. It includes chunks of soaked stale bread and tomatoes, sometimes also onions and basil, dressed with olive oil and vinegar. It’s the Italian version of a fattousch salad and something I am going to incorporate into my rotation of starters when we have guests over. Who doesn’t love bread, tomatoes, olive oil and mozzarella?
For my main course I had the grand ravioli stuffed with lobster, if you’re gonna go, you might as well go big! It was scrumptious and the experience was much more delicate and fine than having ravioli swimming in heavy sauce. My Breton had sausage fregula with mushrooms. Fregula is a type of Sardinian pasta similar to Israeli couscous. Fregula comes in varying sizes, but typically consists of semolina dough that has been rolled into balls 2–3 mm in diameter and toasted in an oven. It can be used in soups, with a marinade sauce, as a side dish, or also eaten as a complete meal. His dish was hearty and rustic with delicious flavors. I’ll have to go to my local Italian epicerie because I need to get my hands on some fregula or wait until my husband travels next to Italy for work. I’ve never seen it in any of the big chain grocery stores in the US or France but I know Amazon does carry it.
While the starter and main courses were generous, we couldn’t pass up dessert. I had the semifreddo. I was curious to try it as I make semifreddo on a regular basis and oui, I might be a little biased but mine is pretty damn good. The semifreddo itself was good but for me it was a little overwhelmed by the whipped cream and chocolate sauce. I’m more of a purist. My husband’s desert was fantastic. He ordered the mousse au chocolate with berries. The unique feature of this dessert is that it is made with olive oil. You’d never know by its rich chocolaty taste. Does this mean it’s heart smart?
I’m happy I took the chance to push the door and make reservations for dinner. It was easy to walk by this simple little restaurant but it is that which made it a great meal. It’s small, intimate and you can feel and taste the pride the chef has in his region and food. From the outside it doesn’t look like much, but then while inside you feel it’s pleasant and cozy, then you notice the service is lovely and you taste the food and it’s delicious. It all adds up to a great meal and experience. Don’t hesitate to take a chance on the Shardana.
134 Rue du Théâtre, 75015 Paris
Phone: 06 25 19 53 07
Open Monday- Saturday 12-2.30pm and 7-11pm / Closed Sunday