Seafood tends to be a natural principal of island cuisines, and while the preeminence of animal husbandry on Sardinia is reflected in the meatiness of la Ciccia's cooking (and in the name itself, which means "belly" in Sardinian), the restaurant does have its treats from the sea. Prominent among these is octopus ($10) braised in olive oil with chili peppers, basil, and mint and presented with quartered oven-roasted tomatoes. The oily sauce is dark, exotic, and luxurious, while the octopus itself has something of the character, firm and slightly salty, of preserved fish.
As for meat: You'll catch a nice whiff of fennel from the pork sausage that enriches a lively saffron-tomato sauce for gnocchetti ($13), a pasta variety that resembles half-split soybean pods. True carnivores might want something like the lamb stew ($17), a hearty but rather somber bowl of tender meat cubes, potatoes, and peas in a sunless brown sauce purported to contain saffron. It is good but not especially interesting, just as the lasagnette ($10), a kind of loose-leaf layering of semolina ribbons and shredded cabbage under a cap of melted pecorino cheese, is interesting but not especially good — a kind of sauerkraut pasta, tangy-salty with an odd glimmer of sweetness.
A word on the wine list, which, being replete with Sardinian bottlings both white and red, is probably one of the more striking ones in town at the moment: Because Sardinia is a world unto itself in many ways, its viticulture, like its food, is diverse. Its most famous wine is produced from a white grape, vermentino, whose best examples grow in dry, windswept conditions in the northeast part of the island. Argiolas's Costamolino bottling ($26) is a little rich by this standard, with plenty of tropical fruit, but quite seductively drinkable. A crisper white, for my taste, is the little-known nuragus de Cagliari (another Argiolas, $8 a glass), a seafood-friendly wine produced in the southern part of the island, around the provincial capital, Cagliari. There are even excellent reds, among them monica de Sardegna (yet another Argiolas product, $7 a glass), a svelte but tight wine, like a good pinot noir and definitely a cut above pizza wine, though good with — good — pizzas. SFBG
Nightly, 5:30–10 p.m.
291 30th St., SF
Beer and wine
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