Kvarner Restaurants

Without wanting to force square pegs into round holes, there are essentially four types of restaurants in Kvarner, if not the whole of the country. Unsurprisingly, many of them fall heavily under the influence of the Italian tricolore. In place of faith, hope, and charity, expect white pasta, green salads, and red pizza. The many pizza and pasta spots tend to be the cheaper and more casual

alternatives.

Possibly the most delightful Croatian establishment is the konoba. Originally, the konoba was a humble cottage or shed, where fishermen would gather after returning to shore and might toast to surviving another day's trip out to sea by raising a few glasses, followed by a sample of their catch cooked to soak up the booze. These rustically styled fish restaurants have cropped up everywhere in the last few years. Especially on the islands, you'll see quite a few originals around.

Few dishes come specifically from Kvarner, but several parts of the region carry a healthy reputation for certain produce. In Rijeka try jota, a thick soup with sauerkraut or pickled beets with meat. Maneštra is a bean soup with corn, sauerkraut, and sometimes cured meats. The Gorski kotar region serves a mean polenta made with potatoes, local cheese, blood sausage, and game. On Krk try Krk–Šurlice, the local version of pasta; handmade on a spindle, it's often served with wild-game goulash. Cres has a fierce rivalry with the northern Dalmatian island of Pag regarding who serves the best lamb in Croatia. Calamari cooked in herbs and wine is a good bet on Lošinj. In Kvarner, mrkač is the local word for octopus; it's hobotnica in the rest of the country. If you order white fish, either grilled (na žaru) or baked in salt (u soli), you'll be charged by the kilogram, whereas squid (either grilled or fried) and shrimp (often cooked in white wine, na buzaru) come in regular portions. The classic accompaniment to fish is chard (blitva) and potatoes (krumpir). Many choices will come smothered in olive oil and garlic; you'll likely be told that this is what keeps the population so healthy. Krk and Sušak are home to the most highly regarded wines from the region, with the dry white Vrbnićka žlahtina a strong candidate for "best." Rakija (fruit and herb brandies) are, of course, the common end to a meal and the start of a long night.

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