Istria is the leading gourmet and gastro region in whole Croatia and wider. So, if you want to experience Istria in most better way possible, you should try local food in some of the restaurants or to make an food tour and visit local winemakers.
It starts to be recognized internationally, so the british newspaper The Daily Telegraph in 2022., placed the Istria region in best 15 places for food lovers in the world. They point out that this region has all it takes to overthrown the famous Tuscany in Italy.
This region is famous for it’s olive oil, wine and truffles. Did we mention that the croatian Tuscany, has a few Micheline starred restaurants?
In this guide, you will find about best places to eat in Istria, popular local dishes, great cooking classes and food tours, rent a chef options and in general learn about traditional istria food.
Traditional istrian food
Several cuisines have influenced traditional Istrian food. Some of them are Austrian, Hungarian, Ottoman, but there’s no doubt the Italian cuisine has left the most prominent mark on Istrian fare.
Croatian cuisine offers a wide range of fresh fish, meat dishes, soups and stews, ham and cheese. Each region has its own specialties, and Istria is popular for home made pasta “pljukanci” and “fuži”, manestra, istrian soup, local ox “Boškarin”, sausages, prosciutto…
Here is the list with three most popular dishes.
Fuži and pljukanci – traditional istrian pasta
Home made Istrian pasta, fuži and pljukanci, were once considered poor man’s food. Locals eat them with beef or lamb goulash, or for instance it’s a part of a traditional Istrian dish like žgvacet. What makes these simple pastas rise to deluxe levels are truffles.
If you are intriged by this local pasta, there is a Istrian Pasta Festival in small town Žminj. It is held in July, and you can taste and try pasta and other traditional dishes from this region. Also you can participate on workshops and presentations, try local wine or to enjoy in some of the concerts.
Healty Istrian dish cooked throughout the year with various combinations of meat and vegetables. It is usually made with bacon and bulked up with beans, potatoes, tomatoes, beans, beets and garlic. Traditionally is served with a piece of bread and sprinkled with some parmesan cheese.
Fritaja – istrian egg-based dish
“Fritaja” is the omelet with wild asparagus. The name comes from Venetian word fritaia which means fried. It is made with eggs mixed with dried bacon, onions, and seasonal vegetables, such as asparagus. It is often prepared at local celebrations and numerous events in Istria.
Different variations can be prepared throughout the year with mushrooms and sausages but the asparagus variety is typical for springtime as they are fresh.
Best places to eat in Istria
If you are in Istria, you don’t need to worry what to eat, no matter which food you prefer. There are many good restaurant, street foods and taverns, with local and international food. Many places include specific diet regime dishes like ones for vegans, vegetarians, plant based, gluten-free, halal, koser…If you can afford deluxe food, good news is that two places, Monte and Agli Amici, both from Rovinj are Micheline starred restaurants.
Check out some cool restaurant list which includes best places from all over Istria, from low budget to deluxe experience.
Konoba Boccaporta, Pula
It is considered as one of the best istrian tavern in Pula. Excellent Istrian meat, fish and desserts will delight you with taste and presentation. Traditional type of pot is called ”peka” and is probably the best way to prepare meat. You will be pleasantly surprised with reasonable prices at this tavern.
Tunaholic, fish bar, Poreč
Family owned place with over 30 years of fishing experience. The first Tunaholic fish bar opened in 2020 in Poreč. In a short time, Tunaholic has emerged in the gastronomic offer of Croatia and beyond.
The main food is tuna, followed by swordfish, shark, salmon, squid, sardines, mussels. The basic ingredients are designed in a different and original way which makes this street food concept very attractive.
Vegan House, Pula
First specialized vegan restaurant in Pula and Istria. It has plant based, healthy food and special diets like gluten-free.
It offers various types of meals such us “vegan meat”, risotto, sun and fries dumplings, home made pasta, seasonal vegetables or maybe you can choose local dish polenta. The house recommendation for dessert is a fruit crumble with homemade ice cream.
For more information you can check out their website.
Ribarska koliba restaurant, Pula
It stands out with gourmet couisine experience, seafront location and recognized international chefs.
Ribarska Koliba is pretty near Marina Veruda, which is a part of well known touristic resort Verudela in Pula. The menu of Mediterranean cuisine provides authentic meals at this place. It is definetely one of the best seafood in Pula which come from local suppliers.
The choice is diverse – fish, shellfish or molluscs. Pleasant ambience is complemented by lively, romantic music, perfect for fine dining with your loved one!
Pizzeria Jupiter, Pula
The very idea of “Jupiter” was inspired by the fact that the pizzeria is located at the alleged site of the temple of the Roman god Jupiter. Jupiter is well known because of it’s pizza, but their guests can enjoy various types of pizza, pasta, salad and grill. Prices are affordable for everyone budget.
Zembies street food, Pula
Street food with a view on roman Amphitheatar and seafront with a lot surrounding greenery. They offer burgers, tortillas, salad and sweets with great craft beer. Vegans should be more than welcomed since there are interesting dishes for them specially designed from one of the chef. Explore more on their website.
Monte, Rovinj, Michelin star
In the heart of Rovinj’s old town, right beneath St. Eufemia church, there’s a hidden jewel, probably one of the top restaurants in the Croatia. Owner and chef creates a great fine-dining experience. Majority of the ingredients are from the local fishermens, farmers and producers, so the quality of the food is top-notch. They have a red, green and blue 6 course menu, which includes intro and finale.
Agli Amici, Rovinj, Michelin star
Restaurant with a menu by the renowned Italian chef Emanuele Scarello brings Michelin-starred cuisine to Rovinj. Situated in the very heart of the marina, the restaurant offers an astonishing vista of the old town centre of Rovinj and the island of St Catherine, as well as a unique and unforgettable gourmet experience.
Cooking classes, food tours and private dinner experience
Gastro experience is thing you should do while you are in Istria, no matter if it’s through food tour, cooking class or rent a chef.
Food tours are great experience which combines three things that all people love: food, trip and fun. Usually the trip consist of visit to one or more wineries. Host presents their wine stories, and afterwards all can enjoy in wine, cheese and other snacks tasting. That looks like typical wine tour, while gastro experience encompass olive oil, truffles, fish and other local food.
For more information about wine, food and gastro tours check this link.
Cooking classes: cook and eat istrian food
Cooking class usually starts with exploring green market or visit the local farmers to purchase the fresh and local ingredients. After that participants prepare tasteful dishes and enjoy drinking wine in relax atmosphere.
This is a great way to explore local food and culture, and enjoy in mediterranean food which is generally better the one you can try out in restaurant.
Biggest offer of cooking classes in Istria has istriacooking.com.
Private dinners are usually organised for 5 do 15 people, but it can be arranged for more people. It can be birthday celebration, anniversaries or just for unforgettable gourmet experience… Usually they are prepared for guests or owners in their villas, holiday homes and yachts. If someone is staying in an apartment or hotel it is also possbile organised them in some of the restaurant in private atmosphere.
Check out for more information on this link.
Rent a chef: villas, holiday home and yachts
Forget about grocery shopping and cooking during the holidays! Hire a private chef to cook for you in Croatia! Treat yourself, your family and friends with the exceptional gourmet experience in a private setting of your villa, holiday home or yacht.
It is possible to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, tailored to your needs and wishes. You can rent a chef for 1 up to 14 days. For more information visit this link.
Best hotel for foodies
Hotel from Pula with the biggest offer for foodies in Croatia. If you want casual dining they have hotel restaurant, but if you prefer street food try out Zembies. In 2022, they launched Vegan House, which offers a variety of plant based food.
The Hotel Amfiteatar is a food friendly stay, suitable for guests with all kind of food disorders, allergies and diseases.
They also organise cooking class and food tours, which is good opportunity to find out about istrian culture and gastronomy. Find out more.