The gastronomic scene in Istria features earthy tavernas set high in the misty Učka Mountains, agri-tourist bistros and chic fine-dining establishments. The cuisine ranges from Italian pastas, wood-fired pizzas, earthy Croatian cattle meats, oodles of award-winning brtonigla wines and more truffles than you can shake a stick at. Here are the best places to eat in Istria.
Explore this lesser-visited region by hiring a boat with SamBoat. Alternatively, book a week-long sailing holiday around Istria with Dream Yacht Charter.
Nestled below the looming limestone peaks of the Učka range – and just a stone’s throw from the white beaches and crystalline Adriatic Sea around Medveja – you’ll find Konoba Kali, offering up traditional Liburnian cuisine. House specialties include hand-folded seafood ravioli and flame-grilled Istrian beef steak. If you want to come for dinner, make a reservation in advance as it can get busy. Ask for a table on the terrace, which boasts sweeping views of the Adriatic and the verdant coastline of northern Istria.
As they stay firmly true to the culinary philosophy of fresh fish direct from “sea to table”, it’s hardly a surprise that the folk at Damir & Ornella are often hailed as the best fish chefs in all of Istria. The dishes here are designed to encompass the natural, organic flavours of the catches above everything else, combining a series of curious raw appetisers with truffle-infused mains, seafood pastas and simply cooked fish fillets. With just six tables, expect intimate service at this cosy spot, tucked between the tight-knit back alleys of seaside Novigrad.
Truffles, truffles and more truffles adorn the menu at this gourmet establishment in the sleepy town of Livade, where you can try a seasonal offering of Mediterranean foods inspired entirely by this most definitive of Istrian ingredients. In fact, Zigante is owned by the man who once held the Guinness World Record for the largest white truffle find, which was discovered in the Istrian hills around Buje back in 1999 (before he was topped by an Italian in 2014). There are pastas, seafood dishes, local meats and even classic American steaks to enjoy, along with a selection of non-truffle dishes and vegetarian meals.
Taste your way around Istria by renting a yacht through SamBoat – no experience necessary – or hire a vessel for the week with Dream Yacht Charter.
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