One thing we know for sure is that the Istrian and Kvarner regions are booming. Istria, boasting the largest peninsula in the Adriatic Sea, is just south of Trieste in Italy. Rolling hills, fertile plains, rural hotels, and farmhouse restaurants make up much of what Istria is today, and it is no surprise that Istria’s gastronomic experiences are highly acclaimed. Kvarner, ecologically unpolluted, is home to indisputably the best šcampi in the world, with wines obtained from the white grapes of the Krk and Vinodol mountains. It is perfectly evident then, that Istria and Kvarner are first class when it comes to your gastronimic experiences, and we are here to give you some of the best restaurants in the region.
First off we have San Rocco in Brtonigla, located in the north-western part of the Istria region. A member of the Association des Jeunes Restoranteurs d’Europe, San Rocco is absolutely at the top of Croatian and Istrian cuisine. San Rocco offers a gastronomic array of seasonal specialties including local caught fish, truffles, mushrooms, ham, game, and other Istrian staples. The cuisine is based on tradition and is paired with a rich wine list displaying over 200 labels. As would be standard in the Istria region, San Rocco also displays a vast selection of olive oils. The seasonal menus will also recommend what olive oils to pair with your selection. An intimate setting serving only 25-30 guests, there is also an outdoor terrace next to the pool and garden. According to the official guide Istria Gourmet, San Rocco was award Best Croatian Restaurant by the Croatian Tourist Board.
Photo courtesy of croatia.hr
Bevanda, a 5-star design hotel, has hosted its renowned restaurant since 1971. Chef Andrej Barbieri uses only the freshest ingredients from the continent and the sea to to breathe new life into classic dishes. Barbieri is known for creating clean and distinct flavors and aromas, paying homage to traditional Mediterranean fare. Bevanda’s beverage list consists of over 650 wines and 200 distillates, and each glass can come paired with a sommelier and a cigar to make for an unforgettable experience. Bevanda offers a relaxing view of the sea, the town of Rijeka, and the Istrian peninsula and islands in the distance.
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Kastav, located about 10 kilometers north of Rijeka is the town in which restaurant Kukuriku lies. Located very centrally in Lokvina Square, Kukuriku is also a boutique hotel. With room for 60 guests indoors, and another 60 out, Kukuriku may be the largest restaurant on our list. At Kukuriku, “eno-gastry” is key. Being the first restaurant in Croatia to adopt the art of ‘slow-food’, Kukuriku’s mission is to elevate your dining experience, which chefs cooking you what they would want to eat themselves. The chefs use local and seasonal ingredients daily, and oftentimes improvise dishes based on seasonal availability. Kukuriku encourages their patrons to let their waiters help you order, delivering a higher sense of knowledge on really what is the best that day. The wine cellar carries over 150 labels and can be paired with a sommelier.
Photo courtesy of manjgura.hr
Lastly, Wine Hotel & Restaurant Meneghetti located in Bale between Rovinj and Vodnjan in Istria, is brought to you by chefs Daniel Pifar and Bojan Vukovic. A modern cooking style based on local ingredients and a team that has been partnered for over 10 years creates a culinary experience of synergy and imaginative interpretations. Bringing together the rural and urban parts of Istria in their dishes, with the addition of their own Meneghetti olive oils in each dish, Meneghetti has won multiple awards, including the notable 16 points and two scallops in the Gault Millau guide for 2015, and was listed in La Liste 2015 for top 1000 restaurants in the world. They are currently undergoing a massive renovation and expansion and are scheduled to reopen in August of 2016.
Photo courtesy of meneghetti.hr