Since we spend most of our year in Porec and have many friends who also know the area well, we are lucky enough to be able to test all the local amenities, including the bars and restaurants where we’ll often be greeted with complimentary local grappa. Of course, there are many great bars, fine restaurants and pizzerias in Porec and the surrounding areas, but we thought we’d share a few of our favourites and will keep you updated.
Istrians love preparing tantalising dishes for their guests, driven by the gastronomy nurtured by their grandmothers, who cooked according to the calendar and followed the seasons of the year. An ample supply of fresh local fish, home-grown vegetables in summer, luxury crops in late autumn together with the herbs and plants growing wild in spring are sufficient motives to cook for you. Istrians love to keep their traditions but also like to learn from new practices. Bon appétit!
Epulon Vinoteque A wonderful hidden gem and one of our favourite wine bars is in the centre of the Old Town where you’ll find Danijel, the owner, warmly greeting and subtly entertaining guests with his natural charm. They’ll tell you what’s new in or what the best seasonal wines are, served by the bottle or carafe and offer great plates of the local wonderful meats, cheeses, olives, bread and olive oil. All at very reasonable prices.
L’artigiano Bar and Restaurant is our local and we’re always warmly greeted by the friendly staff and owner Marino with a smiley “hello neighbours” as we tuck into fresh croissants or toast and home-made jams with our coffee almost every morning. As in all the coffee bars in Croatia, be sure to ask for “Bijela kava jako vruće mlijeko” (white coffee with hot milk) otherwise you get a lukewarm coffee. Although the menu is huge and varied, if you can’t find what you fancy, they’ll adapt anything to suit you. Even when one of our visitors asked for a Bloody Mary which they’d never heard of, Marino popped to the local shops, picked up all the ingredients and managed to make the most amazing Bloody Mary’s for us all. Nice sunny terrace and child friendly.
Pizzeria Bistro Stari Saloon in the Old Town of Porec. You cannot visit Porec without sampling some of the best pizzas – visit Darko Antolovic and his excellent team at Stari Saloon in the Old Town. It’s set in a beautiful courtyard surrounded by tall brick buildings, which only adds to the ambience and certainly doesn’t stop people from filling the place every night.
The XXL pizza is a whopping 120 cm in diameter, served on a wooden disk the size of a small tabletop. The crusts are ultra-thin and crispy, all the way through. Our teenage twin nephew’s eyes almost popped out when the XXL arrived at the table and having earlier promised to eat a whole pizza, the race was on! Hmmmm….I think we should have passed on the starter; delicious local olives, cheeses and hams with the accompanying bread and olive oil!! Even between eight of us, we had to concede, the whole pizza could not be eaten…….. The waiter happily boxed up what was left so the boys could take it home for supper.
Bistro Niki, a wonderful family run Bistro in the Old Town, serves up the most amazing seafood risotto and pasta, my own particular favourites, among many other fabulous dishes and all at reasonable prices. Marco and his team are always happy to help explain the menu and happily make any changes you want. Marco’s family home-made grappa, some of the best in Porec, is always offered after your meal ‘gratis’, and it’s difficult to say no!
Caffe Bar Epoca sits just on the seafront where you can people watch and look out at the amazing boats that dock on the pretty harbour while you enjoy your morning coffee, lunchtime wine and snacks or a wide range of evening cocktails. Again all at reasonable prices.
Pizzeria “La Contadina“ another fantastic pizzeria in a beautiful Istrian atmosphere, serving American Pizza (thick dough), Pizza crust stuffed with melted cheese together with homemade tagliatelle, risotto, spaghetti, pljukanci, lasagna, gnocchi, pasta, ravioli. The last time we visited my Beefsteak (fillet steak) with mushroom sauce was just delightful. They say ‘Join us in discovering the perfect pleasure of taste’ and so we must!
Restoran Trošt whose inexhaustible inspirations are the sea, land, nature and extremely rich tradition. Enjoy this experience and first class service in an unforgettable ambience with a view over the Marina and the ‘Casanova town of Vrsar’.
The family Trošt proudly serves an amazing selection of fresh local fish and home-grown vegetables during the summer and fragrant manestra and meat platters during the winter. You’ll see why it’s one of our favourites.
Konoba Daniela – Not too far from Porec, you will find a little gem in Konoba Daniela, a family run restaurant. “In the Istrian rustic ambience, we offer you superb local specialities and international cuisine”. Superb service in a homely atmosphere, affordable prices and a wide selection of meat and fish dishes. The steak tartare is a must as they make it in front of you and you can remove or add more spice or chilli, served on hot toasted bread – delicious! Last October, when the weather turns cold, our mixed meat platter was cooked on the fire in front of us, served with a smile and tasted wonderful.
Konoba Danijeli in Kringa may be a 25-30 minute drive from Porec but boy is it worth it? Pasta’s galore, outdoor grill cooking up some great dishes for sharing. Wonderful place for private parties and they certainly looked after us at Roy’s 60th Birthday party where we had over 30 guests who enjoyed course after course of delicious local prosciutto with cheeses and olives, a variety of pasta’s followed by an amazing dish cooked in a traditional clay pot which is buried in the hot coals of a fire. We enjoyed a great meal filled with all kinds of meat including pork, veal, potatoes and vegetables with wonderfully integrated flavours. The evening kicked off with the d.j. we hired and the whole restaurant was up rocking and dancing to the amazing Elvis impersonator. You will be surprised at how inexpensive the whole evening was and we have never spent much more than 50€ for four of us to eat fresh food and drink local wine.
Our latest find, a short drive from Porec, in a small village call Tinjan is Konoba Na Kapelie, which has a great outdoor seating area and offers the usual traditional Istrian fare, pizza, prosciutto and cheese, along with dishes prepared under a baking lid and over hot coals, something you must order the day before. Well worth the wait!
Traditional Istrian dishes include a selection of Pršut, olives and cheese – Istrian pršut is a dried ham, similar to Italian prosciutto or Spanish Iberico jamon. The pork leg is skinned, salted, peppered and left to dry for about a year in the cold northerly Bora wind. It is hand cut and served with sheep’s cheese and olives as a prized starter in konobas (taverns) throughout Istria.
Truffles – Istria is world famous for the highly prized black and white truffles. They have an amazing strong flavour and add depth and luxurious richness to risottos, handmade creamy pasta dishes, sauces served with steak and salad dressings. Market stalls in this region offer jars of truffle added to pesto, oils, mushroom pate, olive tapenade and even honey.
Blitva with grilled fish – You will find blitva on probably every restaurant menu, it is a very comforting side dish of swiss chard and potatoes, cooked with a generous amount of olive oil and garlic. It pairs well with grilled fish, often cooked on an open fire.
…and finally pizza – very popular throughout the coastal areas of Croatia.