Michelin’s Starry Night Above Croatia

5 MINUTES READ

Award-winning restaurants Monte, Pelegrini, Draga di Lovrana, Noel and 360 are shrines of Croatian gastronomic tradition, interpreting local ingredients in innovative ways

When in 2017, at the beginning of February, on its Twitter profile, Michelin announced the first star in Croatia, I received a call from the Croatian and Slovenian media on the same day to comment on such a significant event for the Croatian gastronomy. Back then, and today, I find Michelin’s arrival of great significance for the promotion and development of our restaurant scene. The truth is Michelin entered the Cro-gastro-arena with the first guide edition a bit awkwardly and not sufficiently prepared. The sceptics doubted its reputation, but regardless, I believe it belongs to the most significant moment for the development of the Croatian restaurant scene. In that Twitter post, they congratulated the Rovinj Monte Restaurant on their first star with Dubrovnik photo in the background. The guide contained restaurants already closed, and they missed out some important and already proved high-quality ones, so we expected if not a star, at least a recommendation. It was obvious the Michelin inspectors toured only Istria, Zagreb and Dubrovnik, not entire Croatia. Along with the first Michelin star, there were recommendations for 34 more restaurants. Back in those days, we were proud of Tjitske and Danijel Đekić, owners of the Monte Restaurant. They were showered with compliments, even though only a few knew of their way to success. Namely, Danijel left civil engineering studies in 1985 and started working as a waiter in Monte. A few years later he started cooking and met the Dutch lady, Tjitske. They moved to Utrecht where they opened a restaurant. In 2001, they returned to Rovinj and took over Monte. Since Monte is closed in the wintertime, Danijel was collecting invaluable experience from chef Gaëla Orieux, a chef that has learned his trade from Bocuse, Senderens, Carton, Allénoa, and also worked for the legendary chef Alaina Passard in his L’Arpège Restaurant. Tjitske was in charge of all restaurant departments except the kitchen, and even took over the role of a sommelier.

Restoran Monte
Restaurant Monte, Rovinj

A year later, Dubrovnik restaurant 360 and Šibenik tavern Pelegrini were awarded the M-stars. Along with the stars, there were four Bib Gourmand recommendations plus 24 new recommendations. All those who have visited the Dubrovnik 360 Restaurant are well aware of how highly demanding and challenging it is to set the system on a grand level under such ambience. The credit for the restaurant’s grandiose success goes to the host Rudolf Papac and chef Marijo Curić. Mario has been a chef since 2015 and has been working in the 360’s cuisine since 2007. Mario has been constantly professionally developing in the kitchens of the best world chefs and restauranteurs, always bringing the fresh experience and spirit into the 360’s kitchen. Restaurants like Elystan Street, The Square, Marcus, Bibendum and Ledbury in London, Devero in Milan, represent just a few on the long list. Running a restaurant and tenting the wine list are jobs for a man of remarkable energy and knowledge, Rudi Papac. The restaurant staff consisting of more than 50 people demands an immaculate management strategy capable to deliver sophisticated meals, even under pressure, to the magnificent terrace enchanting the guests of high expectations. 360, Monte, Pelegrini, Draga di Lovrana, and Noel tend to present local foods under the innovative light at the same time respecting the Croatian gastro tradition. Also, apart from Noel, these restaurants have been members of the Jeunes Restaurateurs Association featuring, through a whole range of activities, promotion of Croatian gastronomy and encouraging young chefs at distance to pursue professional development.

Restoran 360
Restaurant 360, Dubrovnik

In a 700 years old Pelegrini-Tambača Palace towering above the St. Jacob’s cathedral the Pelegrini Tavern is nested, and Rudolf Štefan, the chef, with his young and perspective team, launches contemporary Croatian cuisine in a unique way. Relying on tradition and local ingredients Pelegrini stands out as the most meritorious for the progressive evolution of our gastro-scene. Furthermore, chef Deni Srdoč, at only 24 took over Draga di Lovrana’s kitchen. Three years later he became the first chef from Kvarner wearing a Michelin star. The family hotel and restaurant were open in 2006. The owners, couple Suzana and Christian Nikolac, count as great gastro enthusiasts and restaurant gained a remarkable reputation on behalf of Zdravko Tomašić, who Deni inherited. This young guy from Krk belongs to unquestionable talents with the best cooking years yet to come and definitely interesting to follow.

Draga Di Lovrana
Draga Di Lovrana, Lovran

Somewhere in the second half of 2016, chef Goran Kočiš together with sommelier Ivan Jug decided to leave Bistro Apetit and pursue a quest of opening up an ambitious restaurant based on top cuisine embracing the usually ‘rejected’ local seasonal foods. The restaurant experienced a high-speed headway reaching its first Michelin star. A luxurious wine list, supreme service level, the most remarkable cocktails in town thanks to the barman Karlo Ferenčak, a recent reinforcement Gorana Kočiš (Goran’s sister), the master pâtissier, all speak of Noel’s improved superb offer. Until the next Michelin’s guide, we will have to wait for another eight months. The R’N’B Weekend Festival in Zagreb hosted this year for the first time a gala Michelin awards event. It is expected to see Boškinac star on the Michelin starry night. Young Matija Bregeš attracts attention with his creative and autochthonous island cuisine. The Zagreb gastro scene is buzzing with news of the chef Hrvoje Kroflin and ManO2 Restaurant enforced through excellent chefs and sommeliers currently preparing exciting and complex contemporary Croatian cuisine. Tvrtko Šakota with his NAV Restaurant receives compliments for his exquisite dishes and concept. But let’s leave this part to the Michelin inspectors and their assessment rules. Croatia develops, in baby steps, as a gastronomic destination and attracts the attention of international guides, media, the audience – a significant contribution to its tourism promotion with so much to be proud of in terms of the fabulous gastro-scene.

Noel
Noel, Zagreb

Text Hrvoje Petrić

Photos D. Dubokovič, V. Arevalo & Archives JRE Hrvatska

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Brač Island Croatia view Destinations

Yachts guide to Brač: Island of the cultural adventure

Exceptional and challenging in its specific beauty island of Brač has been cherrishing olive and vine, sheep and goat, stone-masonry and stone-cutting… completing tourist offer …

Cruising Through The Mala Proversa Strait 01 Cruising

Sailing in Croatia: Magic labyrinth between Zadar and Kornati

Take a round trip snaking between the charming islands closest to the city of Zadar – and maybe you’ll find inspiration to continue on toward …

Yachts-Croatia-62-Cover-mockup Yachting

New Issue in Sales: Stunning Pershing 8x, Gastro Basque Tour, Golden Island of Krk

The 62nd, spring issue of our luxury yachting magazine is now in sales. Five boat reviews Our spring edition signals the start of the new …

Ofyr Tablo 01 Gastronomy

Ofyr Tabl’O Has Arrived

OFYR Tabl’O is a table grill for pleasant moments of socializing and having fun with delicious snacks. Compact, elegant and efficient, the ideal table grill …

Restoran Posat Gastronomy

Creative Tradition

One of the beast seafood restaurants in Dubrovnik is best known for authentic Mediterranean dishes – and the spectacular terrace looking at the old city …

Luka Grubisic Interviews

Luka Grubišić

The Croatian chef has been preparing meals for luxury boat owners for several years ‘My name is Luka Grubišić and I am an innovative, creative, …

This is a photography of Feadship Project 817 front view Yachting

Feadship Project 817 Seen for First Time

Built for an exceptionally experienced yachtsman, the groundbreaking Project 817 has left the Feadship yard in Kaag for the first time. The owner of Project …

This is photo of a Columbus Sport 50 sea trials Yachting

Columbus Sport 50 Metres at Sea

Columbus Yachts, brand of Palumbo Superyachts, launched and completed the first sea trials of the new 50-metre Sport M/Y K2 at the Ancona shipyard. Born …

Yachting

New CRN Voice Is An Icon of Creativity

CRN Voice M/Y 137, the latest fully custom steel and aluminium work of art by CRN, has been delivered to her owner. Taut yet fluid, …

This is a photography of Dufour 470 Yachting

Dufour 470 Symbolises the Renewal of the Brand

Dufour Yard starts 2021 with the launch of 2 new models: the Dufour 470 and the Dufour 61, after the still new Dufour 530 The …

Yachting

Monaco Yacht Show Will Be Designed Around Superyacht Clients

The Informa Group, owner of the Monaco Yacht Show, took advantage of the postponement of the 2020 Show to work closely with the yachting industry …

This is photo of a Numarine 37XP Yachting

Numarine Sold a New 37XP Superyacht

Numarine, the European high-performance motor-yacht shipyard continues to expand its fleet of explorer yachts with its latest addition to the XP series: the 37XP. ‘We’re …

Scroll to Top