Akentannos’ Sardinian cuisine has something extra - and it might help you live to be 100.
Don’t you just fancy something different sometimes?
I mean really different?
When you yearn to be surprised by a menu that frees you from standard starter, mediocre main and sticky-toffee-tedium?
How about a menu with octopus, tripe and rabbit and a style of cooking that tastes European yet remains foreign, unusual and exotic – challenging even?
Akentannos - meaning 100-year life - on Sharrowvale Road might be the place.
And it might help you to live to be over 100 years old too, but more on that later.
First, the food.
Akentannos is a Sardinian restaurant run by 42-year-old Sardinian Mario Masia who’s worked at what used to be Maso on Surrey Street and other Italian eateries in Sheffield and Chesterfield.
He’s also worked on cruise ships around Europe, the Arctic and the Far East and experienced cultures and cuisine from around the world.
But he had to go back to where he started to find the something different he’s now offering.
Mario opened Akentannos on February 27 with his Sardinian wife Giovanna - they live in Walkley with their two children.
“I decided I wanted to do something strictly Sardinian,” said the very chatty and expressive Mario.
“I worked on the cruise ship the Silver Sea but now I am married and settled with two children and live in Walkley.
“Everywhere in the world cooks with pork, fish, lamb, vegetables etc, so it’s all about the different flavours.
“We like to cook Sardinian-style with some ingredients from Sardinia as well as the best local meat and veg from the lovely shops all around us here.
“We try to do everything from fresh though we have to prepare some dishes earlier. But we only do small amounts. When it’s gone its gone.
“We mostly like to cook in the moment, sometimes people have to wait a bit longer but they always say it’s worth the wait.”
Sardinians use what they have on the island - seafood, rabbit, pork and lamb, Pecorino cheese, smoked ricotta and goats cheese.
They seem to be doing all right on it.
For years the world’s scientists have swarmed all over Sardinia looking for the key to a long life - the island has the highest proportion of 100-year-olds on the planet - the so-called ‘Mediterranean diet’ of olive oil, fish and fruit of the region.
But it’s the wine and cheese that seems to add the magic.
Cannonau wine made on the island has the highest levels of polyphenols of any wine - polyphenols are full of antioxidants said to be great for our arteries. More importantly it’s a deep Italian style wine with a lingering finish.
The Pecorino Sardo Cheese is made from grass fed sheep’s milk which is high in Omega 3 fatty acids and also said to aid longevity.
I had simple starter of grilled Pecorino - formagio arrosto - with home-made cracker/flatbread and some sweet chilli oil. It was satisfying in a cheese-and-toasty kind of way but didn’t really have a lot going on.
My wife had bruschetta with a difference - it came with a tomato, zucchini and vegetable topping, green salad and a poached egg and cheese on top. It’s substantial, tasty and recommended by chef Mario.
The main course was where it got really interesting.
I resisted the temptation of tripe - though I confess it wasn’t much of a temptation - and went for rabbit.
Once the staple of the working man, rabbit is now mostly seen in fancy or rustic restaurants.
It was a delight. Like chicken, rabbit breast can be dry but this is just lean, tender and with a light but gamey nuttiness. The thigh meat is more moist as you’d expect from working muscle.
It comes in a celery, carrot and onions-based sauce thick with green olives and a couple of pieces of toasted ciabatta.
It’s rich, deep, rustic and savoury and with a certain ‘otherness’ to it that I can’t put down to the rosemary or the zest of lemon.
Really different and interesting food - and I counted 23 olive pits at the end!
Karen had penne logudoro, pasta with pancetta and chopped cherry tomatoes and topped with a firm and smoked ricotta cheese and rocket.
The smoked ricotta and pancetta gives the dish a deep and rustic oomph you don’t get everywhere, like the smell of a wood fire deep in the Italian countryside.
For dessert I had a traditional Sardinian dish called Seadas which is a pancake/pastry filled with pecorino cheese and looks like a giant ravioli with honey and lemon zest on top.
Different again. The sweet and salt of the cheese and honey works well together with the crunchy batter and lemon zest.
Karen had home-made Tiramasu made with Pavesini, light, vanilla flavoured biscuits with more cream and not so much alcohol or coffee as other examples
Either way it’s light, delicate and delicious.
All in all a very rewarding experience.
If we are going to live to be over 100 we need more food like this to get us there and to keep us amused on the journey. In the mean time let’s celebrate the difference.
Star rating out of five:
* Akentannos, Sardinian restaurant and bar, 270 Sharrowvale Road, Sheffield, S118ZH
* Tel: 0114 2680505
* Open Tue, Wed & Thurs 11.30am-3pm 5pm-10pm, Fri & Sat 11.30am-3pm 5pm-11pm, Sunday noon-8.30pm, Monday closed.