This family-run restaurant is off the main drag, close to the Rojc arts centre, popular with Pula’s cultural movers and shakers. The food is great, based on traditional Istrian cuisine with lots of fresh fish and game. The must-try is the house aperitif: three herbal brandies, layered in a single glass and topped off with a lid of ice with a hole in the middle. Be prepared to wait at the bar if you’re just dropping in.
With culinary star Deniz Zembo (owner/chef at Le Mandrać in Volosko) overseeing the menu, this recently opened venture aims to deliver traditional Mediterranean-Istrian cooking – at affordable prices but with contemporary panache. The setting is certainly a statement in itself, with furniture, tablecloths and napkins all coming from the 'you-can-have-any-colour-you-like-as-long-as-it’s matt-black' school of modern design. The daily three-course menus are a steal (there’s a choice of three priced between 50kn-100kn, including at least one vegetarian selection), while the à-la-carte menu has plenty in the way of pastas and risottos and a good choice of mid-price pork and chicken. Desserts are first class and prices throughout are more than tempting: the grilled fresh fish is the only item that breaks the 100kn barrier.
Traditionally considered one of the top restaurants in town, Milan is set in a modern three-star hotel by the Naval Cemetery – both are friendly and family-run but the ground-floor restaurant is the biggest attraction. A display case heaves with riches fresh from the sea, duly listed on a long main menu. Most dishes are reasonably priced considering the quality on offer. Shellfish come in all types, although risotto portions are (in Croatian terms) quite small. Frogs’ legs with polenta is a speciality. For wine, you’re spoilt for choice, as the cellar here has 700 examples, running up to 1,000kn a bottle. Let the waiter advise.
Hidden behind the main market, this lovely terrace restaurant serves Istrian delicacies in a converted Habsburg villa. The decor is contemporary, as is the careful presentation of the food. Truffles feature heavily, either with steak or, more traditionally, with fuži, Istrian pasta twists. There are plenty of greens, rocket particularly, some 40 types of wine and the cake selection is outstanding. Kantina’s small coffee bar serves toasted sandwiches and filled baguettes if you’re pushed for time.
Stone walls, polished wood and an Istrian-style fireplace create a cosy space for a family-run restaurant, where guests, and the food, get special attention. Along with fish and hearty meat dishes, the Istrian-style menu features seafood and pasta combinations, like ravioli stuffed with crab. The pasta and bread, are own-made. There’s a qualified sommelier on the staff, and the wine list features about 60 mostly local choices, including many from Istria. Located just uphill from the seaside Lungomare promenade, near the forested peninsula of Stoja.
A favourite destination for fish-eating Pula folk for well over 100 years, the ‘Fisherman’s Hut’ was given a total re-vamp in 2013. Always known for traditional seafood, the hut has gone upmarket without losing its reputation for serving up traditional dishes at affordable prices. Fresh fish, squid and shellfish are the main draws, with seating right beside one of Pula’s main yachting marinas. There’s a brand new accommodation bloc next to the restaurant with well-appointed apartments (from 2-person studio to 4- to 6-person family flats) most of which overlook the yachting berths.