Pula sits on the Adriatic coast of Croatia looking out towards the Veneto in Italy. For centuries, the city has had close connections with its neighbor. The Romans built the huge Pula Arena here, one of the best-preserved amphitheaters in the world, along with temples and triumphal arches that still stand in the city. With visitors drawn to the historic sites, we’ve pulled together a list of the 10 best restaurants to visit while exploring Pula.
Restaurant, European, Croatian, $$$
Just inland from the Adriatic coast is Konoba Medeja, an excellent spot to head to if you want to sample some traditional Istrian cuisine. Istria is the peninsula which juts out into the sea on which Pula sits. The food on offer includes smoked hams, Istrian cheeses, homemade pasta, and lots and lots of steaks. And it’s so good that it won Konoba Medeja the top spot in Pula on TripAdvisor and a coveted Certificate of Excellence for the consistently great customer feedback. The word ‘Konoba,’ by the way, means tavern in the Croatian language, and you’ll see it in many restaurant names in Pula.
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Farabuto is said by locals to be the best place to eat anywhere in Pula. It’s located close to the waters of the Adriatic is situated away from the center of town, so it doesn’t get too busy as many Pula food spots do. Farabuto opened up in 2010 and has lots of local Istrian delicacies on the menu. This means fresh fish is bought daily from the fish market, which is caught that day out in the Adriatic. On the wine list are lots of vintages from nearby Istrian wineries.
Pizzeria, Restaurant, Italian, Fast Food, Vegetarian, $$$
Here’s a classic case of Italian influence in Pula. TiVoli is a pizzeria serving up all sorts of topping combinations. The restaurant is located in north Pula away from the historic seafront center of the city. All of the pizzas are freshly prepared for you and cooked in a traditional wood oven, with toppings like Istrian ham and smoked meats, olives, chile, and garlic and pesto.
Konoba Istriana is a family-run tavern where the menu aims to showcase the diverse influences that have contributed to Istrian cuisine over the centuries. The tavern boasts some rave reviews from diners, but to get there, you’ll need to head out of Pula to the south, about a 15-minute car journey to reach the southern part of the Istrian Peninsula. When you get there, you can see the Italian, Austrian and Balkan influences on local cooking. There’s lots of local fish, olive oil and herbs on the menu, with Istrian sausage, BBQ beef, smoked hams, and goulash, along with traditional Austrian pancakes.
For something a little different from the typical Istrian cuisine that you’ll find in Pula, head to Siam Thai. At Siam Thai, they merge the flavors of the Orient with those of the Mediterranean. There’s a dinner service, or you can grab a takeaway to take to the beach. On the menu are starters like chicken in coconut milk and curry sauce and shrimp in sweet chili sauce. Then there is a full array of Thai curries for mains including red, panang, and massaman varieties.
Named after the great Florentine Renaissance poet Dante Alighieri, Bistro Alighieri is right in the heart of the old city of Pula, a few moments from the ancient Pula Arena and a stone’s throw from the harbor. You can drop into the bistro for breakfast, lunch or dinner to sample some traditional Istrian dishes and smaller snacks. You can also dine within the restaurant or outside in the square. On the menu, you’ll find lots of seafood like calamari, tuna fillet, and salmon served with sesame seeds or classic meat options like wiener schnitzel, rump steaks, or sirloin of beef served with truffles and mushrooms.
Boutique Hotel Restaurant, Mediterranean, Croatian
The Restaurant Oasi is part of the Boutique Oasi Hotel and serves up Mediterranean cuisine of the highest quality. On the Restaurant Oasi menu, you’ll find starters of beef or tuna carpaccio or octopus salad, followed by pork fillets, turkey medallions in Gorgonzola sauce, or fillet of beef in a green pepper sauce. The restaurant and hotel are located just south of the main town of Pula at Pjescana Uvala, right on the Adriatic coast.
This small, unpretentious trattoria serves up traditional Istrian cuisine. It’s a favorite of the locals too and is a short walk away from the center of Pula. Family owned and run like a good Italian trattoria should be, the food includes dishes made with plenty of love and care that have been passed down through generations of the Civitico family. Some of the best dishes that you can opt for include tripe cooked in tomatoes, Istrian game stew, gnocchi, sardines, octopus salad and grilled calamari.
Located in the village of Banjole, just to the south of Pula, this Konoba is run by the Skoka family and has a big reputation amongst foodies as the place to head to for the best fish in the region. Konoba Batelina has even been featured on TV on Chef Anthony Bourdain’sNo Reservations. It’s so popular these days that you won’t be able to just walk in and grab a table, and it doesn’t open up for lunch service. So to avoid disappointment, plan in advance and get your table booked. The Skoka family are also fishermen, they fish in the morning, and the day’s catch is served up on the evening menu.
Restaurant Kantina opened in 2015 as a place showcasing Istrian wine and produce. Based in a historic 19th-century building erected in the Austro-Hungarian era, it sits right in the middle of Pula close to the Arch of the Sergii, one of the main sites in the city dating back to the Romans. On the menu are appetizers of fish carpaccio, Istrian prosciutto and local cheeses, and platters of pork tenderloin and sausage. Then you can move onto lamb stew, veal cheeks, steaks with truffles, or some seafood like grilled squid or shellfish stew.