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.
Pizzas, pastas and salads are served in this bright bistro furnished with rustic oak tables and brightly painted chairs. Culinary riches of the Kvarner region are an important part of the menu, with local goodies like asparagus and truffles making seasonal appearances. The terrace, with its recycled chairs inherited from the Opatija summer theatre, the looks out on Volosko harbour’s bobbing boats.
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.
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.
Named after American president Lyndon Johnson (the former owner was a fan), this restaurant is a pillar of the Opatija Riviera culinary scene, serving freshly caught fish, lobster and shells with an haute-cuisine sense of style. Pride of place goes to the scampi, caught locally and prepared in a variety of different ways. Johnson is undoubtedly one of the best places to enjoy the traditional Kvarner sea-food repertoire, although the prices are correspondingly high.
More than halfway from Opatija to Volosko, the Restaurant Evergreen does a lot of nice things right. Its menu is extensive without overstretching the kitchen. Along with seafood risottos, tagliatelle and spaghettis, you can find grilled mushrooms, fuži pasta twists with truffles, even monkfish with truffles. It offers charcoal-grilled steaks, T-bone or rump, stuffed with goat’s cheese or prepared with Dijon mustard. To accompany, there are more than 100 wines, mainly from Croatia and Slovenia, Dingač and Plavac Mali among them. All takes place in a light, modern interior filled with lush green houseplants.
The historic fishing village of Volosko at Opatija’s northern end probably boasts more outstanding restaurants per square kilometre than anywhere else on this side of the Adriatic. Valle Losca arguably gets less attention than it deserves because it is slightly uphill from Volosko’s tiny harbour and doesn’t have the same views of bobbing boats from its terrace. A small stone interior with wooden tables provides the setting for perfectly prepared traditional fare including all the Kvarner-Istrian favourites – fresh fish, scampi, home-made pasta and boškarin-beef steaks. Given the size of the place and its growing popularity, you’d be wise to reserve.
A friendly place five minutes' drive from Opatija, highly recommended by tourists for its excellent food and fair prices, this restaurant is surrounded by lavender and nearby church bells can be heard ringing from time to time. The view is nothing special, but the food is worth taking the detour for, and incorporates all manner of fresh local ingredients.