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Istria has a crystal-clear sea, beautiful picturesque towns, incredible gastronomical adventures, and dazzling landscapes. The biggest Croatian peninsula is small enough to explore in a few days, and at the same time it is an area of wide-ranging diversities so everyone can find a fun thing to do. We are bringing you a short guide on the gourmet experiences of Istria – the land of wines, olives, and truffles.
Where better to start your trip in Istria than with lunch. We recommend you go to Restaurant Damir & Ornella. A small, family-run restaurant, hidden up a narrow lane near the seafront in the city of Novigrad. Fish, that came straight from the sea to your table, is prepared with minimal interventions which this family characterizes as Mediterranean sashimi.
In Istria everything is an experience, and so is the accommodation. Heritage Hotel San Rocco even though located in a historical and charming place, is one of the luxurious hotels in Croatia. This might be just the place to be your starting and ending point for sightseeing and traveling around Istria. But the wellness center of this Hotel is not the main star – hotel restaurant San Rocco is. The dining place is located in what was once a wine cellar, where until recently Istrian Malvasia rested in large oak barrels. Dishes are made from top-quality local ingredients, and the menu changes depending on the season. So, in autumn you can try incredible dishes with mushrooms.
The best thing to do in the morning visits one of the wineries. We recommend you try either Kozlović winery or Kabola winery. Coming there you would think you missed a turn and ended up in Toscana. Picturesque landscapes and peaceful locations with a glass of Malvasia are just the way you want your day to start. Malvasia is unique and it is most probably the indigenous Istrian variety, it has been grown in Istria for centuries.
If you want to try a typical Istrian nonna's cuisine sitting on a beautiful terrace with a countryside view try Restaurant Morgan. Or Family tavern Stari podrum with a view of Momiano castle, and try semi-sweet Muscat Momjanski. This picturesque place in Western Istria has a tradition of cultivating this particular variety and is known for the production of some of the best Croatian wines. Anything you choose from Istrian cuisine you cannot go wrong with. From fuži (home-made Istrian pasta) with truffles, venison, and boškarin with pljukanci (home-made Istrian type of gnocchi), asparagus fritaje (a type of omelette), pasta, prosciutto smoked and dried in the original Istrian manner, bacon and other meat products.
Just twenty minutes ride from these restaurants another experience awaits in the forests of Istria filled with black and white truffles – Restaurant Zigante. To understand just how special truffles are Zigante has truffle hunting demonstrations. During this demonstration, you will be shown how truffles are found with the help of experienced truffle dogs. And once you are tired of truffle hunting and need another delicacy we suggest you try the exotic taste of truffles in the restaurant – a simple stake with freshly grated truffles or truffle ice cream as a dessert.
After delicious truffles we recommend you visit Pazin – the heart of Istria. In this small town you can find historical sights like Pazin Castle (Kaštel), or under the walls of the Castle, in the hatch of the Cave of Pazin where you can try a zipline 100 m above ground level. And then head for more Istrian delicacies in Konoba Vela Vrata – a cute tavern with just a few seats inside and a fireplace for the atmosphere. In this restaurant, they pay special attention to grilled meat, and you can try a steak, rump steak, Fiorentina, boškarin steak, tomahawk, ribeye steak, and homemade sausages.
If you want to experience eating outside between olive trees with a view of a small family vineyard, we recommend you go to Konoba Vorichi. This place has carefully designed its eno-gastronomic presentation. From the choice of food, which is either produced by them or by other manufacturers of Istria, to the way they prepare meals. They even make their pastries for which they use flour from an Istrian mill. Don’t make a mistake by eating too much of it in the beginning, because you want to leave someplace for other dishes on the menu.
From Konoba Vorichi head for the coast of Istria. Located in the heart of Rovinj, within sight of Sant’Eufemia church, is the first Croatian restaurant which got a Michellin star - Restaurant Monte. The best products from the Rovinj market are made into original dishes, with exquisite colors, textures, and cooking techniques. Or you can try Batelina – a famous fish tavern in Banjole near Pula that is owned by the Skoko family. Chef’s dad opened this place years ago because he was a fisherman and he wanted to take advantage of the surplus fish catch. Everything here is fresh and meals depend on the fish catch.
To end the day in Istria with a beautiful sunset and amazing food we recommend the restaurant La Puntulina. The restaurant is located in the old town of Rovinj with a magnificent view of the island of St. Catherine, just a few centimeters from the sea. This place is known for Mediterranean traditional cuisine, but with a contemporary twist.
If you don’t have time for all this we listed, make sure you save these places because we are sure once you try at least one you WILL be coming to Istria again.