Short overview of best restaurants in Istria..
Not to be mistaken, Istria has dozens of good places to eat, and the Istrian restaurants scene is extremely rich, from truffles restaurants, Anglo breakfast, gourmet street food to artisanal cocktails, you can find many more in different articles here on our web. In this one, we are talking about restaurants. Not taverns, not bistros, only restaurants or fairer Istrian way of fine dining.
Food in Istria is generally speaking more sophisticated than in the rest of Croatia, and I would dare to say, a level up from our closest bordering neighbours. Therefore, quite a few of the best Croatian restaurants are in Istria. With the explosion of tourism, fine dining restaurants are reaching unlimited heights opening our appetites to high expectations. This selection and recommendation is grounded on pure experience, mainly with dimensions of food as a pinnacle factor, but none the less staff service, cleanliness, and ambience. The best Istrian restaurants are lined up not as ranking results but rather top of the crop that Istria has to offer.
Danijel Dado Dekic composed this unique menu with his personal style and best local ingredients, while preserving the original taste and aroma, creating the best Rovinj restaurant cuisine. If you are a first timer in Monte, I strongly suggest you try one of the tasting menus, traditional or modern fusion. Either way, you will not regret it. If you are a returning customer, then you will understand why Monte is on the top of my list, not by accident. Service is superior and ambience more than pleasant. Call for reservations, as they are fully booked. Right by the cathedral, the address is Montalbano 75, Rovinj. Reservations on +385 52 830 203. Arrive at least 30min early, for it will take you some time to find parking around Rovinj, and I am quite sure it will be at least 7min walking distance.
Located in Novigrad, anglers’ town, the tradition of this Novigrad restaurant is fresh raw fish in the sea to table manner. The owners who are also chefs, while their daughter is excellent sommelier, manage this small restaurant (only 6 tables and maybe some extra for the persistent ones). The menu is created based on seasonal fish, and the fish is cut and prepared in front of you. Tasting menus are based on 5 to 6 servings and accompanied by local wine. Somewhat Japanese Istrian style. My favorites were raw squid and raw scallops. Reservations necessary on +385 52 758 134, located in the old town of Novigrad, Zidine 5.
#3 WINE VAULT
Back to Rovinj restaurants (I should do one topic only on them!) and my personal favorite! Why? Probably because all my expectations were met. Superior service, attention to the smallest detail, creative cooking, and impressive serving. The widest wine selection of all the restaurants and a resourceful sommelier to assist you. Andrew Gaskin deserving the Executive Cluster Chef position with his innovative style inspired by the local resources. Lobster with truffles is a spectacle of taste, black ravioli or even walnut black truffle soup, slow cooked veal entrecote. No, no wait... Monkfish with asparagus, radish, spinach cream, hazelnuts, and hay cream. Oh, I cannot decide... It is impossible. Wine Vault offers also reservations for the chef's table, where guests see firsthand secrets behind the scenes and allows you to create your tailored experience. The restaurant is closed on Mondays, for reservations you can call on +385 52 636 017. It is located in the Monte Mulini hotel in Rovinj, A. Smareglia 3 Street.
Back in the anglers’ town of Novigrad. Although, the first look of it might fool you. Marina is not a traditional Istrian restaurant but rather creative kitchen of Marina Gasi, the owner who prepares delicious meals you will not try anywhere else in that combination. The sommelier is Marina's partner Davor, and together they make one outstanding team. Parking is available close to the venue in Street St. Anton 38, Novigrad, and for reservations call +385 99 8121 267. The restaurant is closed on Tuesdays.
Pergola offers seasonal fish delicacies in a traditional innovative way prepared by the chef and owner Fabricio Veznaver. Spider crabs and cattle fish are somewhat different and unique. Tasting menus are fun to taste but for the real deal, you need to order a la cart. Red mullet file filled with truffles on a plain of young vegetables, entrecote kobe with potato cake and grilled artichokes is the chef's masterpiece. The restaurant is located in Zambratija, in a pleasant setting. The address is Suncana Street 2, Savudrija. For reservations call +385 52 759 685.
#6 ALLA BECCACCIA
A cozy, rustic restaurant in a peaceful surrounding. The house specialty is woodcock, prepared by order. Fully booked in advance, this place is well worth the wait. Tables set outside on a lawn, in shady manicured grounds, just perfect for a summer lunch. Friendly staff, fast service. Traditional Istrian food, with international touches. Try that boar in sauce with grilled polenta, or homemade ravioli, or boned veal baked under an iron lid, the traditional Istrian way. Book your table at least a week in advance on +385 52 520 753. The restaurant is located in Pineta 25, Valbandon village.
Zigante is the name of the home village of the white Istrian truffle. It was only natural that Giancarlo Zigante will become one of the largest producers and a restaurant owner. This restaurant is dedicated to this precious mushroom – truffle. Altar of her majesty the truffle! Chef Damir Modrusan and his team keep the good work of simplicity in high gourmet meals each one with a touch of truffle, the best of all truffle restaurants. Rich wine selection with the experienced sommelier is the final element of the magic at its highest. From homemade pasta with black truffle to the truffle ice cream, you cannot miss! Professional staff and delicious meals are a win-win. Reservations are made on +385 52 664 302, at the village Livade (it is the biggest house in the village!).
#8 ST. NIKOLA
Fabulous fish and great service are the strongest cards this restaurant has to offer. Ambience is nice, seaside, not too cozy. Situated in the center of Porec, fully booked in the high season, this restaurant deserves a place on our list. For reservations call +385 52 423 018, and make sure you arrive early enough to find parking. The address is Obala M. Tita 23, Porec.
Simple WOW would be the best description of the best Pula restaurant. Family tradition continued by Masterchef winner David Skoko, Batelina's chef. The not so appealing interior might fool you at first, but the food will melt the hardest palates in the universe, leaving your taste buds in shock. Chef Skoko has truly mastered the Japanese approach to fish. Besides the traditional Istrian fish dish, I strongly recommend the following: marinated red mullet with daikon, forkbeard fish pate with anchovies, shark liver pate on garlic marmalade and mangold biscuit, bonito Carpaccio with tapioca caviar, pasta with cured common sole roe, and smoked great weever. And these are only starters! My absolute favorites! However, if you are not very fond of fish, rather choose another place. Batelina takes reservations two to three weeks in advance, especially during the high season. Call +385 52 573 767, the location is in the village of Banjole, close to Pula, the address is Cimulje 25. Parking is in front of the venue, on the street.
#10 SAN ROCCO
Tullio Fernetich started his gastronomic adventure almost 15 years ago. Chef Teo Fernetich, also sommelier, runs the kitchen with modern style firmly connected to the tradition and territory. The elegant gourmet restaurant San Rocco is a member of the Association des Jeunes Restaurateurs d'Europe. Family operated venue, based on typical seasonal specialties, fish, truffles, and game. Tranquil ambience, carefully designed gardens, hotel and pool area will put your soul to rest. Try the tasting menu, and then decide on your own selection, you cannot be mistaken. If you are not sure, order homemade tortellini stuffed with Istrian boskarin meat (unique Istrian cattle), or homemade ravioli filled with white fish and truffles, or foal wild bass soup, and grilled shrimp on lentil bed. Reservations on +385 52 725 000, location is the San Rocco Heritage Hotel, Srednja Street 2, village of Brtonigla. Parking is on spot.
The Badi restaurant was established in 1986, and ever since it is known for its high quality service and top level offers in Umag restaurants scene and in the entire region. The Badurina-Badi family runs the restaurant ever since, and with a subtle approach, they are fully responsible for the family atmosphere. Chef Moris Damiani holds the creative fish cuisine, and best dishes are bass in bread, cuttle fish on black lentil cream, or queen scallops carpaccio with garlic mousse. If you are up for meat, try the veal cheeks. Reservations on +385 52 756 293, Umaska Street 12, city of Umag. The restaurant is closed on Mondays, and parking is by the restaurant.
#12 SIGNATURE RESTAURANT RESOLUTION
Ground floor of the beautiful Lone Hotel is reserved for the unique restaurant whose kitchen is held by young team of chefs playing with their passion, and imagination, pouring it into delicious meals. Ambience is framed with a beautiful hall and the trimmed outside garden of the hotel, as if from another world. Try mackerel with asparagus, cauliflower, walnut, and candied cherry tomato, or buckwheat gnocchi in goat cheese and dry fruits, or brodetto, and for dessert do not miss out on pear soup with frozen raspberry and balsamic caramel. Reservations on +385 52 632 017, location is ground floor Lone Hotel, Luje Adamovica Street 31, Rovinj. Parking is in front of the hotel.
#13 VILLA STEFANIJA
Hotel and restaurant Stefanija are not easy to find but well worth the effort. The story about Nona (grandmother) Stefanija on how she reflects the restaurant is just an addition to the amazing setting and view. Restaurant offers traditional delicious and healthy dishes made with love in accordance with the tradition and space they originate from. I would say quite the slow food restaurant. Order Rafaello with lobster in a cold tomato basil soup, pasta with smoked fish and dried figs, and for the dessert baked pasta with orange sauce. The restaurant takes only dinner reservations +385 52 567 075, Puntera 8d, Barban.
Now, talking about seafood! I am sure you did not know that Istria has its own oyster habitat. Lim bay with the micro features of the underwater world is home to oysters. The Viking is situated in a fantastic location, in the middle of the green, with its oysters, mussels, dorade and sea bass nurseries... At Viking you have to try raw oysters, crustaceans and grilled fish, lobster is also an option. FRESH OYSTERS are the best! High season reservations are a must, call +385 52 448 223, in Lim bay, close to Sveti Lovrec village Vrsar area.
This was our selection of 14 best Istrian restaurants, the best of the best, cream of the crop! Challenge your palate and make your taste buds crave for more. You will not regret it as this is the finest dining region in Croatia, a full gastronomic experience for all your senses. The food you will never forget.