After an excellent prosciutto, and cheese and olives, many traditional wine cellars offer fish soup, fish stew, boiled prawns, black and white frutti di mare risotto, as well as other dishes typical of the central part of the Istrian peninsula – traditional wine soup, ragout (jota) similar to Italian minestrone (manistra, menestra or manestra), and also pasta and risotto dishes cooked with the famous truffles of the region – a self-sown precious mushroom species, unearthed by specially trained dogs and pigs; these fungi have the reputation of containing aphrodisiac properties. The excellent Istrian wines include Malvazija of Buje, Cabernet of Porec, Sauvignon and Merlot, as well as Teran of Buzet, Zlahtina of Vrbnik, and sparkling wines – Bakarska Vodica, etc. Fine restaurants abound in Istria and Kvarner, especially on the Opatija, Crikvenica, Rovinj and Porec littorals, as well as in the interior and on the islands.

Take a look at: Restaurants in Istria


Truffles, IstriaSlowly but surely Istrian truffles (tartuffi) have been making their name known in the world. Late summer, autumn and early winter are truffle finding time. Both the prized white truffle and the more common black truffle are commonly found in Istria. Restuarant menus offer them both in main and desert courses. You will know it is truffle time as the specially trained dogs go truffle-hunt mad and can be heard in the early hours. Some years ago Carlo Zigante found the world’s largest white truffle (1.3kg) near Buje. It entered the Guinness Book of Records. To promote Istrian Truffles, he cooked a dinner for 100 people using his prize truffle as chief ingredient. As a result attention was drawn to the area and today there are Truffle Events held annually. If you know nothing about truffles there is no better introduction than visting one of the truffle fairs – wine tastings and other local produce available.

Olive Oil and Olive-oil trails

Olive oil in IstriaOlive oil began to be produced in Istria while the Romans were around and has never stopped. Olive groves cling to the hillsides all over the penninsula. This family picked the last of their olives – almost a trailor full – on 24th October 2010 from their groves on the hills near Motovun. Traditionally, olive harvesting is always a family affair. Some of the oils are simply magnificent and we highly recommend you go a-tasting. Best way to taste is done in a similar way to wine tasting – pour a little into a stemmed glass, swirl around whilst covering the glass top with your other hand, inhale the aroma then sip a quantity taking air into the mouth at the same time. What do you note? Is it sweet, bitter or peppery? What taste does it leave after swallowing? Study the list of producers and the map to see where the nearest olive oil farm is to where you are staying.

Wine and wine routes

Wine in IstriaAccording to Vinistra (Association of Wine makers of Istria) it is all about the SOIL. The varying soil colour, from a deep red in coastal areas to white in the interior, enriches the wine making process and creates the fine white Malvazija and deep red Teran wines that Istria is famous for. See for in depth wine coverage. Do include at least an afternoon of tasting during your visit – there are plenty of wineries all over the peninsula. The Istrian County Tourist Board have made it easier to distinguish the best wines from the more ordinary and have produced a list of ”selected” wine producers. Look out for the names on restaurant wine lists when you would like to try a special bottle of something. The IQ (Istrian Quality) sign on the label signifies high quality Malvasia wine. Restaurants and Konoba will always have the local “ordinary” wines too which can be ordered in very small jugs, 2dcl (decilitre), 3dcl, half litre or litre jugs, often exceptionally good.

Other traditional dishes

Istraski prsutPasta
Typical Istrian dishes include the fresh pasta and pršut and sheep cheese. As the wonderful variety or pasta shapes seem to be mainly translated by the word PASTA on many of the menus we have come across please spend a minute on this list, it’s worth it:
– Home made fresh Ravioli with wild asparagus
– Pljukanci rolled up shapes of fresh pasta
– Fuži particular shaped fresh pasta
– Njoki same as gnocchi
– Rafioli same as ravioli

Delicious soup made with beans, potatoes and seasonal vegetables, sometimes with meat

Carving the famous Prsut ham
Pršut Air-dried ham, similar to prosciutto often served thinly sliced with sheep cheese as a starter. NB The annual Pršut Festival takes place in Tinjan at the end of October – free tastings for all.

Pod pekom Anything “pod pekom” is good
Literally it means “under the lid”. It is an outside oven where the meat, vegetables and herbs are slow cooked in a special pan with a tightly fitting lid right in the centre of the fire, covered by the embers.

Kobasice Home made Istrian sausages
Ombolo Best loin cut of pork – rubbed with salt, pepper, crushed bay leaves then air dried for two to three weeks – delicious grilled or sautéd in good quality olive oil.

A “cousin” of spinach – blitva is prepared with potatoes, garlic and olive oil. It is a wonderful accompaniment to grilled fish or squid. You will see it on every fish menu. Delicious.

Škampi na buzaru
Langoustines in a “buzara” sauce: usually sauted sweet onions, garlic, olive oil, wine and plenty of chopped parsley. Shell fish often served in this special sauce. Always mop up with plenty of bread.

Risottos are a speciality of Istria. The famous black risotto is made with Sipa (cousin of the squid) which release a black inky liquid making for a velvet black mouthwatering risotto.