Restaurants in Opatija, Lovran and Volosko
Opatija, and specifically its satellite of Volosko, is a gastronomic destination boasting some of the best restaurants in Croatia. If you only have one night here, enjoy it at Le Mandrać – surrounded by other options in Volosko, a 15-minute stroll along the promenade from downtown Opatija. In such a competitive environment, even the ordinary places have to be top-notch. Superb dining can also be found at most of Opatija’s high-end hotels and even the busy Hemingway bar now has a restaurant, open until 2am, with decent seafood, steaks and fancy pastas.
The main restaurant of the landmark Hotel Sveti Jakov may be best described as a blend of Italian trattoria and wine bar. It also combines old and new, set in a historic building while providing a modern-day dining experience – casual but upscale, friendly and affordable. The menu is focused on good and simple Mediterranean cuisine, such as grilled fresh daily fish, grilled steak, fish soup and home-made pasta, with a commitment to using local and sustainable produce. This includes high-quality Istrian and Dalmatian prosciutto, a wide selection of cheese and freshly baked bread.
Located at a serene turning point in the promenade, this resort hotel’s restaurant serves fine seafood on a sea-view terrace. After a ten-year stint of applying Austrian finesse to fresh local ingredients, head chef Arthur Berger has handed over the reins to Ilija Grgić, the starter buffet and a daytime à la carte choice featuring calamari, mussels and prawns. There’s a dessert menu, too, with Austrian and Croatian specialities.
Bevanda underwent an extensive and highly impressive renovation to add a ten-room hotel and bar to the space occupied by its renowned restaurant. The appointment of Andrej Barbieri as chef, once of Konoba Tramerka a few miles down the coast in Volosko, proved a good move, and elevated Bevanda to new gastronomic standards. Given its proximity to the sea, it’s no surprise that Bevanda offers a wide selection of fresh seafood. The menu is innovative, from scampi bisque to home-made tagliatelle with lobster and truffles, as well as Pag lamb and sautéed monkfish tail. Note also the raw bar and sampling selection, L’Esperienza. Highly recommended – book early to guarantee a table.
Classic Croatian chocolatiers Kraš opened this palace of decadence disguised as a café on Opatija’s main drag. Along with elaborate sweets, tantalisingly displayed under glass in the glitzy interior, it also serves cakes, mousses, ice cream and cocktails, all made of chocolate, plus the hot-drink variety. It goes without saying that excellent coffee is also available. The pretty covered terrace, with modern decorative touches, is a nice place to relax and watch the busy boulevard go by.
The sumptuous dining room and shaded garden of an old villa converted into a hotel are the settings for superior seafood dinners. These are augmented by a dégustation menu of five or seven courses, showcasing the superior skills of head chef Robert Benzia, graduate of Italy’s prestigious Boscolo Academy. Deferential waiters also offer a complimentary appetiser of petit fours with fish stuffing. You can sit under your own gazebo or on the upper terrace for a commanding view of the sea.
Non-sailors can be pampered at this superb seafood restaurant on the water at Opatija’s marina. The kitchen handles all the basics expertly, while throwing in a superb bakalar in bianco (a kind of cod pâté that you spread on hearty light-brown toast); all manner of scampi and shells; and fine white fish either grilled, baked, or cooked in wine. The smart interior, done in cheerful light blue, and the relaxedbut deferential waiters, make you feel like you have a 60-footer floating somewhere nearby.
This dining destination in the gastro hub of Volosko, outside Opatija, is the oldest restaurant on the Riviera. Today it’s run by Daniela Kramarić, an award-winning sommelier, backed by a cellar holding 300 varieties of wine, 60% of which are Croatian. The wine also gets used in the food, which centres around fillets of finest fresh fish served in a much more imaginative range of sauces that you find in the more traditional Adriatic restaurants. You’ll get a full introduction to the Plavi Podrum style by opting for one of the tasting menus.
A simple konoba where the locals go when they want affordable seafood and Istrian specialities. There’s not much of a view from the terrace on a hill, attempts to dress up the sparse interior are have had mixed results and the atmosphere is pretty informal, with servers chatting to a convivial core of regulars. The food is why you’re here. Hearty inland cookery includes venison goulash, minestrone with sausage and corn, and tripe with polenta. All are fresh, filling and affordable – even the grilled rump steak and grilled monkfish in wine sauce.
It’s a lung-busting walk up a steep hill or a 50kn taxi ride, but once you reach the terrace restaurant of the Villa Kapetanović hotel, you can settle in for a gourmet meal with spectacular vistas. Watch postcard sunsets over the bay of Kvarner while the award-winning kitchen prepares treats such as calamari stuffed with scampi, steak with truffles, or lobster that’s just been yanked from the fish tank. Knowledgeable and friendly servers are happy to guide you through the menu and the long list of well chosen Croatian wines. This is superb slightly modernised Croatian cuisine, with creative use of the best local and seasonal ingredients. For the full gourmet experience, there are tasting menus, either four courses or seven. Laurus costs a little more but it’s special.