Tag Archives: Sardines

Classy Dining in the Hotel Kontinental

Hotel Continental is the oldest still working hotel in Rijeka, opened in 1888, at the time in town of Sušak which is now eastern part of the city. When opened, it gained much popularity for its interior, many activities, and excellent position on the bank of the Rječina River, after which Rijeka got its name. Among the other things, this hotel was famous for its old-style coffeehouse and a restaurant.

Photo by Hotel Kontinental

Still today, the hotel is one of the most recognisable buildings in Rijeka and the square in front of it, the Kont, is popular gathering point for youth in summer. Some things stayed without much change, others seized to exist, but every generation of Rijeka citizens knows by heart the summer evenings on the terrace and the splendid restaurant and café offering refreshments and combination of classic Kvarner and continental foods. It continues somewhat the tradition: in 1914, an invitation to the hotel emphasised the restaurant with beautiful garden, excellent homemade and German cuisine, good wines and always fresh Budweiser beer.

Our arrival at the hotel coincided with the festival “Sardines are IN”, and we enjoyed exciting sardine meals in various combinations. The friendliness of the staff and their easy-going attitude make a particular Rijeka atmosphere, while the terrace provided us with cosiness although the rain was falling (which is quite often in this indeed rainy city).

The old facades of the hotel and the pictures inside the restaurant evoke the memories of the past and days when this city was the glorious harbour of the Austro-Hungary, and when the town’s elite gathered in this very spot to chat and conspire.

The chef “conspired” with fruits and fish, giving us indeed an unusual starter, marinated anchovies with marinated orange fillets. Soft and fresh anchovies, marinated in lemon, sits on a basis of ricola, fennel, and onion rings, while the orange slices and cherry tomatoes give a festival of colours on plate. It is a refreshing and joyful combination, where tastes combine and blend in a unique late spring starter. A few drops of Blato Amfora extra virgin olive oil makes it even better.

How about deep-fried sardines with cabbage and potatoes? One would say there is nothing special in this very traditional and classic dish. But, the surprise comes after first bite – the sardines are filled with mild sheep cheese! It was another example how much this small fish can give. More than that, it regained its status as the feeder of the islanders. For a long time, sardine was completely underestimated in the gastronomy, given banally only as a salty fried starter or as a snack in summer fishermen nights. The young chef in Hotel Kontinental showed yet again that sardine is a small fish with big opportunities.

As the Days of Cherries and sardine week combine, the cook also gave us such combination, consisting of fillets of fried sardines, polenta with olives and Mediterranean herbs, and cherry sauce. Again, very specific dish, which is predominantly mild and gives lots of flavour within the aromatised polenta. The cherry addition is very ingenious and playful, which is always a sign of a confident cook. Everything blends greatly with wine of the house, red blend named Namori, containing a ruby colour and full taste with fruity background.

Cherries were the basis of our dessert too. We tried the cherry pie with maracuya or passion fruit sauce, excellent finish for anyone into not-so-sweet desserts. Whole experience in Kontinental shows simple but imaginative approach to the combination of fish and fruits, which resembles in a way the history of Croatian biggest port. For decades, it has been fisheries’ harbour but also entry point for southern fruits and citrus fruits, giving colourfulness and enjoyment to the elites.

Hotel Kontinental – Jadran Hoteli
Šetalište Andrije Kačića Miošića 1, 51000 Rijeka
(T) +385 51 372 008 (F) +385 51 372 009 


Conca d’Oro – the sardine masterpieces in the oldest restaurant of Rijeka

Just a few steps hidden away from the Rijeka’s main pedestrian zone Korzo there is the oldest still working restaurant in the centre of this biggest Croatian sea port. Many generations of citizens of Rijeka and their guests loyally were coming for decades to this place to enjoy the classic Kvarner cuisine.

Hospitable and jolly staff of this restaurant will offer you rustic dishes with a modern twist, and we experienced it during the days of sardines. The meals somehow resemble the restaurant’s interior itself – undoubtedly emerged into the tradition of the area, there is a significant modern atmosphere included, while the old legend still survives.

The rich tradition of this place goes back to the first half of the 19th century, when brothers Ostrogović kept an inn which name got lost, but it was present on the same spot. For a short time, it was a hotel named “K zlatnoj zvijezdi” or “Albergo alla stella d’oro” (At Golden Star). In 1885 the legend was born when Leopold Zwetti opened the restaurant and only one year later it was included on the prestige list of the best restaurants in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. During its past, it changed many owners but the “golden” name stayed.

Robert Whitehead, the owner of the first torpedo factory in the world based in Rijeka, owned also the houses around the inn, but the restaurateurs complained because of the noise and transportation of building material. Thus, they positioned three stones in the small alley where the restaurant still is, so that the workers don’t disturb the guests. Whitehead did win the court suit, but the stones remained until today.

The restaurant got its present name in the beginning of 20th century, with the new owner Edoardo Budicin from Pula. It served local cuisine and brunches, while enriching the offer with the prestigious Italian wines from the regions of Piedmont and Emilia Romagna. Even today, you can find the traces of this tradition in the corners of the restaurant, especially in the emblem of the place, resembling the fatty, greasy, and utmost hedonistic region of Italia (mind the Bologna Grassa – The Fat Bologna!).

But, back to the sardines. This small, yet compact fish nourished generations of islanders and coast dwellers, and there are numerous ways how to prepare it. The chef of the Conca d’Oro presented us with three rustic-styled sardine dishes with very common ingredients.

We’ve started with marinated sardines, nested with ricola and cherry tomatoes in a classic glass jar, with topped bruschetta aside. Refreshing start gives a boost to explore more opportunities of this fish.

And it succeeded greatly with sardine dumplings, made of mixed sardines and sesame, with addition of pine nuts and served on brodetto sauce with Kalamata olives. Full flavour of sardines blends perfectly with quickly fried ricola and with polenta aromatised with olives and Mediterranean herbs. One just wonders how much is possible with a simple sardine!

The classic sardine meal in the Adriatic is, without doubt, fried sardines with Swiss chard and potatoes. One cannot go more traditional than this, and the fish served in the Conca d’Oro evokes the memories of grandfathers in the way they are prepared.

But no grandparent can serve the sardines in such posh way as they do it in this restaurant, making almost a construction of sardines and a richness of old flavours. In every way, staff wants us to feel the rustic history blended with modern lifestyle. Possibly, that is why they surprised us with a delicious cherry pie, a true testimony to the spring and the Kvarner cherry.

Conca d’Oro is rich with top quality wines and whiskeys, but we tended to try the very basic Istrian Malvasia. And we were indeed surprised by the Terzolo Malvasia, originating from Nova Vas near Poreč. The red soil terroir gave the champion status for the young Malvasia at Vinistra competition 2013, done by the family Tercolo known also for a very good olive oil that we’ve enjoyed immensely.

Every gastronomad should know by its instinct that the best places can be found off the beaten track. Conca d’Oro is exactly few steps away these beaten tracks of Rijeka and indeed well worth of a visit.

Conca d’Oro
Kružna ulica 12, Rijeka
phone: 00 385 51 213 782
text and photos by: Vedran Obućina & Bruno Vignjević

Srdela is In – Botel Marina, Hotel Kontinental, and Conca d’Oro

According to legend, the first sardine was eaten by the Greek God Dionysius, who offered it eternal life, if it were to substitute the sea with the wine from his goblet. The sardine refused by responding: the sea is my abode, and I belong to the fishermen and sea folk from all shores, islands and ports, thus I am obliged to assuage the hunger of fish and men alike! And so it was.

Botel Marina – Ship of Gastronomy Delights

The sardine is the fishermen’s favourite, it has been dubbed the queen of the sea because it was the primary food source for many generations. Healthy food does not have to be expensive and the often underestimated sardine is living proof of this.

Classy Dining in the Hotel Kontinental

Sardines are oily fish, although they mostly contain unsaturated fatty acids (omega-3 being the most common). The human body requires them to remain healthy because it cannot produce them on its own and pelagic fish contain more unsaturated fatty acids than farmed-raised fish.

Conca d’Oro – the sardine masterpieces in the oldest restaurant of Rijeka

Sardines (lat. Sardina pilchardus) are small, oily fish within the herring family. The largest sardine fishing grounds are located in the western Mediterranean and the Adriatic where the sardines are the primary fish species of exploitation. Sardines are fished throughout the year on nights where the new moon hangs in the sky, but those fished in May and June are supposedly of the best quality, especially if used for salting. Sardines are regular fixtures on traditional menus and despite their reputation for being the food of the poor, salted sardines were held in high esteem by wealthy gourmands and were used as food additives instead of salt.

Rijeka Tourist Information Centre

Korzo 14 / 51000 Rijeka
tel. + 385 51 335 882, fax. +385 51 315 720
e-mail: info@visitRijeka.hr


Botel Marina – Ship of Gastronomy Delights

You cannot miss boat hotel (botel) Marina; it is docked right in the centre of the Rijeka’s city port, recognisable by the red chimney. Inside is an unusual and very popular boat hostel, a cosy bar just perfect for the lazy afternoons, and a restaurant serving local and fresh cuisine. It is in this restaurant that we tried the delicacies for the annual days of sardines in Rijeka, with a help of the manager Andrej Kušeta and his dedicated staff.

The ship was not always here. It was built for the Swedish crown princess and she walked the same halls as one can walk today inside this yacht-like ship. In the sixties, it sailed to Yugoslavia, to the port of Rijeka, where it served on the cruise line between Rijeka, the island of Cres, and the island of Susak. Marina was favourite among the locals who cherished the structure of the ship, being built for the northern seas, and which sustained the heavy blows of the strong bura wind. As a testimony to the glorious time, the menu in Marina consists of many dishes bearing the names of the ship’s destination during her prime days.

Its working days are now done, and the ship was bought and reconstructed by the Arhipelag company from the island of Lošinj. Now it surprises the guests who dream about sleeping aboard a ship, even if it is stationed in the harbour. They may dream about the food also, as it is wonderful aboard Marina and gives a special feeling of dining in maritime surroundings. While honouring the history, we raised our glass of cocktail with its beautiful colour consisting of orange juice, brandy and grenadine.

Very friendly staff greeted us with elaborative sardine menu, confirming the knowledge of making fish dishes. The skill of doing sardine fillet is especially noticeable as our first meal of the visit was done surgeon-precise, using the long and sharp knife on the body of small but strong fish. It came with ricola and toast, blending the salty and somewhat robust sardine with the softness of bread and bitterness of herb.

Next, we tried excellent sardine brodetto with aromatised polenta, which was very pleasing in its arrangement and skilfully combined in tastes. It is not unusual that the brodetto sauce takes over and indeed many locals like it that way, as the joy is in dipping some bread in the sauce and just feel the richness of its taste. In this case, advantage was given to the sardine itself but even more to the polenta which was visibly and tastefully aromatised with the Mediterranean herbs, adding to the rosemary and basil that came atop this dish. Indeed, a skilful play of mild brodetto and pure taste of the sardines!

It seems unavoidable thing to have some of the Kvarner’s sardine classics on the menu, and Marina is not an exception. Locals just love fried sardines, almost like a snack. One often eats it as an appetizer, or just a side dish with some wine. In Marina we had fried sardines with potato salad and radicchio, a slightly changed traditional recipe of very known taste.

It suited excellent with the wonderful open Cabernet Sauvignon Pavlomir wine, originating from the beautiful and awarded vineyard of Mr Miroslav Palinkaš. A leading red wine in the Kvarner area invites for more, and we had it with the cherry pie, a sweet finish of our sail through the Marina’s culinary adventure.

The restaurant is very friendly to various flavours and options, including the gluten free diet. In its beautiful wooden ship atmosphere and cosy interior, it serves local foods, mostly classics, but with rather unusual and healthy additions such as chick peas, traditionally not used in this area. Modern gastronomy goes healthy, especially in various kinds of beans, and Marina is not an exception. Overall, Marina is a very cosy and inspiring maritime place, with lots of tradition and skills, excellent place for brunch and in the very centre of Rijeka, where guests can soak in the atmosphere of city’s maritime glory.

Botel Marina
Adamićev gat, Rijeka
+385 51 410 162

Text by: Vedran Obućina

Photos by: Edvard Badurina & Vedran Obućina


May 23-31

There’s a legend saying a Greek god who went by the name Dionysus was the first one ever to try a sardine, offering her eternal life in exchanging for switching sea for wine in his goblet. But it rejected him, saying: „sea is my home, I belong to fishermen and sea folk on every coast, island and port, and my duty is to satyisfy human hunger!“ And so it was.


Sardine is often called „The queen of sea“, because it fed numerous generations. Ingredients don’t have to be expensive to be healty, and sardines are the best proof of this being rich in healthy fats such as omega-3, which have huge benefits for human health.

Come and visit gastro days in Rijeka and find out for yourself!



From tradition to Pepefiš – unique tastes of Živko Dražin

Ever tried octopus salad or marinated anchovies? Of course you have! But what about peppers stuffed with anchovies? Not likely, as it is international patent and protected recipe of Mr Živko Radin from Kaštel Kambelovac in Dalmatia! Usually he makes anchovies, sardines and marinades in traditional Dalmatian way, but Pepefiš turned out to be a major hit.


Traditionally marinated anchovies are put in the sweet-hot peppers, making a unique and interesting taste. Appetizer or snack, this signature product of Dražin is excellent addition to the Croatian maritime diet. But other products stem also from the long fishing heritage.

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Kaštel Kambelovac is traditional fishing place. Generations have been working as fishermen, who ate “hard bread with seven crusts”, dipped in the Kaštela wine and olive oil. They preserved the way of salting and marinating fish, and Dražin family is among those who transferred this tradition to the present day. This makes his products of high quality, with domestic ingredients and traditional preparations.

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Salting the fish is old way of preserving it. Once, it was the main fish product from this region. People mostly salted blue fish, anchovies and sardines. Today, people rediscover the values of salted fish and traditional preparation. With imaginative combinations, new products emerge, which can satisfy even the most demanding palates.

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Apart from Pepefiš, which is personal brand of Živko Dražin, the family makes octopus salad, marinated anchovy and saddled seabeam fillets, marinated shrimps, salted anchovies’ fillet, olives, fish pates and other products famous from the Central Dalmatian region.


Živko Dražin
RIBA DRAŽIN j.d.o.o.Biskupa Frane Franića 78, 21214 Kaštel Kambelovac
Tel. +385 21 220 329
Mob +385 92 102 8065