Croatian gastronomic scene grew tremendously in the past 2-3 years and many already “established” restaurants such as previously written about Pelegrini, took their service, food philosophy and presentation to a whole new level that meet the worldwide standards of fine dining.
Unfortunately, there’re still way too many tourist traps, restaurants with endless menus which are always very convincing about freshness and quality of their food… That is until you’ll possibly fall for it, order your food and that’s where the romance will stop because you’ll realise that food is not freshly made, fish wasn’t caught “this morning” and most of the owners and restaurant managers couldn’t care less about what people are going to eat, as long as the portions are huge, prices are low and endless pasta, pizza and meat prepped in million ways with the grande finale of pancakes for the dessert are on the menu, tourists and locals will keep on returning.
On the other hand, there are people who are world travelers, people who are true foodies, people who don’t see food just as a fuel and who are taking a visit to restaurant equal to a mini trip to another “world” which will give you an amazing experience that you’ll gladly share with your certain special someone, family or business partners. Food is more than just a gas for your body, food is the best and most hedonistic way to enjoy your life, socialise… Food is a cultural thing and just like with fashion, I take a very sophisticated approach to it and see the whole picture, from how much love, time and effort it’s needed to just start a restaurant, all the way to how much nerves, smarts and once again appreciation for food and believing in what you’re doing is needed to present you with only ONE plate of perfectly homemade pasta with the best truffles and a glass of white wine specific only for the a certain part of the country or region…
This was the case with a charming restaurant in the middle of Zadar’s old town known as Poluotok among the locals. Pasta & svasta is the name you should mark down if you’ll be visiting Croatian coast this Summer since it’s worth taking a small d-tour even if you’re not planning to stay in Zadar.
Pasta & svasta opened it’s doors about two years ago, back in Spring of 2014 by it’s masterminds and true foodies Mr.Ivan and his lovely wife Ivana. Ever since the opening, Mr. Ivan, together in collaboration and agreement with his kitchen staff have been creating a wonderful crossover kitchen of traditional Croatian food/ cuisine presented with a modern twist. Whilst the authenticity of taste is “spot on”, the presentation is far from traditionally known in Italian/ Mediterranean restaurants. No big portions of everything and anything on the plate, but carefully presented, simple but bursting with the taste dishes are about to blow you off if you haven’t or have tried this cuisine before.
Just when I thought that I can’t be impressed by “yet another” bruschetta, pasta, etc. I was completely proven wrong. Mr. Ivan, who has a phd in costumer service and hospitality is very strong driven restaurant owner, meaning that he has a clear vision of what he wants to offer to his costumers who come from all over the world. One of the most surprising facts is that his restaurant has a Kosher food certification which is to me “unheard” of in this part of the country. He is the only one who has such certificate on Croatian side of Adriatic coast and that def. sets Pasta & svasta highly apart from any other restaurant nearby.
As a starter, we were presented by a home wine, bubbly Krauthaker sauvignon which comes from a certain vineyard in Istria of which Mr. Ivan is being part owner. Warm, crunchy and perfectly salty bruschetta with marinated sardines on the bed of arugula were divine “appetite opener” for everything that was about to follow up.
For the, so called 1st plate we were served home made, wonderfully al dente tagliatelle with hand de-shelled prawns in tomato sauce with big slices of truffles. I must say that I was having a very high expectations for this dish because I’ve been told by the owners that if I ever try this same dish somewhere else, it must taste the way it did at Pasta & svasta or better if possible but def. nothing less than what I was about to taste. Only one bite was already enough to understand what they meant, it was a perfect marriage between al dente pasta, sourness of tomato sauce and taste of the sea via the most delicious prawns I have ever tried anywhere. To top it all off, the truffles were like eating pure gold, absolutely prime ones, straight from Istria which is famous all over the world as the region for some of the best truffles.
We drank perfectly matched white wine, Galic chardonnay with our 1st plate.
2nd plate was slow roasted lamb with baked potatoes and pancetta. The meat is slowly roasted for many hours on a low temperature. This is one very traditional dish known to be prepped in Dalmatian households for generations, but the sophisticated and the most delicious version ever has been right this dish at Pasta & svasta. This is very manly dish which is perfect for all of the meat lovers. The meat was so soft that it’s been falling off the bone as you start to “dig into it” and it was beautifully matched with the crispy pancetta and aromatic potatoes. To maximise the ultimate experience of this dish, we drank red wine Skaramuca Plavac mali premium .
By this point of our dinner, we have already become great buddies with our hosts, Mr. Ivan was happy to see that his food philosophy was understood and appreciated, so we have already made agreements to come and visit him again sometime soon to try couple of more dish-gems that he has hiding up his sleeve. 🙂
No ending of any dinner is good without something sweet, so we couldn’t resist the calling of deconstructed cheesecake with berry sauce and warm, melty goodness of chocolate suffle! Yum!
It was one of the best traditional, Mediterranean food experiences I’ve had in a long time. Without any doubt, I’ll be back again to Pasta & svasta. 🙂
*This collaboration has been made in agreement with Pasta&svasta. All of the opinions are my own.
*Thank you to Mr. Ivan and Mrs. Ivana for the warm welcome and for making this collaboration possible.
*Photography by: Natali K. photography