The fertile Vis plain in the island’s interior has several restaurants in which the embers of the traditional, or as the locals call it ‘pojorska’ (from ‘poje’, which is ‘field’ or ‘plain’ in the local dialect) gastronomy of Vis, glow strong
Vis is one of the few islands that has managed to preserve its unique combination of character, modesty and charm, which is the essence of the Mediterranean philosophy and cuisine.
However, the fertile Vis plain, a flatland between the hills, has several family-owned restaurants in which the embers of the traditional, or as the locals call it ‘pojorska’ (from ‘poje’, which is ‘field’ or ‘plain’ in the local dialect) gastronomy of Vis, glow strong.
Even though these restaurants are kilometres away from the seaside, yachtsmen love visiting them to discover a whole new side to the island. At the outset of this gastronomic tale, small family farms such as ‘Darko’s’ at Žena Glava, which only has four tables even nowadays and offers your basic red and white wine, goat meat and lamb peka, were just getting started to welcome a new era in tourism after years of isolation in the 1990s.
Yachtsmen eager for some solid and honest culinary offer gave a boost to the story. Today, there are 20 spots in the island’s interior where you can enjoy excellent food and you will have no idea what you’re missing until you knock on the door of your hosts undisturbed by the hustle and bustle of restaurants at the seaside in summer. Below we present merely a few to give you inspiration for a not-your-average meal on Vis and offer an invitation to explore this perpetually magical island on your own.
Vis Restaurants: Magić Tavern
13 years ago, the Magić family farm got the idea to enrich a new vineyard and get the entire family involved in the story. From their own homegrown vegetables, locally sourced fish and meat and two types of wine, this family farm has been loved by yachtsmen from the start.
The word about the great food cooked by the Magić family got around and the Vis Regatta was then, as it is now, an event closely tied to the tavern, so it still marks the end of the season. The tried and tested items on the menu include tuna prosciutto with arugula and almond pesto, breaded goat cheese and anchovies stuffed courgette flowers served with special caper tartar sauce.
‘Peka to go’ for yachtsmen
In autumn, when it’s Plavac season, a dish evoking the times of yore is the snail brodet with grapes which is part of the nearly forgotten menu of the Adriatic islands. What sets the Magić Tavern apart is definitely the peka comprising veal, lamb or, if you’re in a mood for seafood, octopus, anglerfish or even piper gurnard. We’ve seen for ourselves that several guests were turned away because getting a seat on the gorgeous terrace surrounded by vineyards is impossible without making a reservation first.
Transportation can be arranged for yachtsmen and you can even get a ‘peka to go’. Other popular items include edible donkey-themed souvenirs, different marmalades, syrups and other products of the soil that you can take with you and enjoy the flavours of Vis far away from the island.
Vis Restaurants: Roki’s
Located next to the former Allied military airfield, Roki’s has been one of the most loved gastro destinations, especially when it comes to skippers fond of the waters around Vis. Roki’s started as an extension of the family wine-growing tradition going back two centuries.
After experimenting in the initial period, the menu now comprises lamb, veal or seafood peka (octopus, anglerfish tail and even merling). If you’re a vegetarian, you won’t be fed sides here, but you will enjoy standalone dishes, such as artichoke, peka-style, naturally. Peka is not as simple as it seems and even the biggest bon vivants visit the place, so don’t be surprised if you meet women in evening gowns, but also sailors in their seaworn clothes.
Viška pogača directly from the hearth oven
A wine tasting area was recently added to the beautiful terrace seating one hundred guests, where you can try the light seafood primo piatto with tuna carpaccio, salted and marinated fish and fish pâté. The 55,000-litre winery is their forte and the most interesting variety is the Bugava, best paired with fish pekas, while meat pekas go well with top-quality Plavac or cuvée barrique.
The new tasting area means that you will not be sitting in the rural ambiance, but you will become wrapped up in the wine story. The laid-back atmosphere, particularly striking at night, will be made even better by the friendly staff that will fulfil your every gastro demand with homemade bread or Vis pie (‘Viška pogača’) directly from the hearth oven.
This might come in handy for yachtsmen – Roki’s offers transportation services, even if you’re located in one of the many bays of Vis. The next time you’re cruising the waters around Vis, in addition to the well-known flavours and gastro temples such as Senko in Mala Travna, Andro in Budikovac or Zoran at Pojoda, get ready to make a trip to the heart of the island so you can discover a new face of the gastronomy of Vis.
Vis Restaurants: Fields of Grace Vineyards Estate
Hidden behind the English name and writing in Chinese ‘Dai pai dong’ (which translates as ‘street food’) is a love story between Komiža-born Jakša Kivela and Fung Lin Leung from China. At the opening of the field, they created a unique mix of world culinary trends, experience of working at a Michelin-star restaurant and sustainable organic farming.
Their food and wine tasting pavilion is set in the heart of the estate and looks as though it was teleported here straight from the streets of Hong Kong. Guests can walk through a herb-filled maze at the estate, pick their own vegetables, which, being a true ‘street’ chef, Jakša will then use to make a dish inspired by the moment on the spot.
Love story between Vis and China
Jakša prepares tasting menus, each of which has an appetizer, for example rice noodles with mixed vegetables in freshly-made dressing or risotto with curry baked in clay pots. Roast duck ‘a la Macau’, Chinese-style roast suckling pig or steamed scallops with soy and herbs are some of the dishes that fill the air with the wonderful smells of the Asian cuisine, which are then carried toward the island’s interior.
Their wine offer is also interesting because, in addition to rosé made from local varieties, but also some non-indigenous ones that Jakša feels are completely logical, such as Graševina, no wine other than the Plavac has more than 13% alcohol. Jakša is convinced that summer is made for drinking light wines so his Graševina or rosé are part of the affordable menu with an appetizer, plat du jour and a desert that is sure to be a pleasant surprise in this setting.
Read more: Four Culinary Temples
Read more: Istria Gourmet
Vis Restaurants: Senjanović Vineyard
Why not start your gastro tour with phenomenal indigenous varieties that will whet your appetite and prepare your palate for the adventure that awaits in the Vis plain?
The Senjanović vineyard is a micro-location, ten minutes’ drive when going from Vis to Milna or 30 minutes’ walk from the famous Stončica Bay and the legendary tavern by the three Linčir brothers that we made pilgrimage to once again so that we could indulge in the scrumptious Forkbeard and grilled goat meat.
This tavern loved by yachtsmen and other top restaurants have allowed Senjanović wines to find their way to fans only a few years after their first commercial wine was produced in 2008.
The vineyard and the wine share the same name – Tiha braća and the outstanding terroir that Plavac grows in has created a unique wine story from the sand. As the number of lovers of this wine is growing by the year, the process of planting a new vineyard and upgrading the winery is underway.
The winery will feature a new presentation hall next year and guests will be able to taste the Tiha braća Plavac mali, Vugava, rosé and Tribidrag on a terrace that has one of the most spectacular views at island of Vis.
Text Filip Bubalo
Photos Mario Jelavić