Updated: Feb 19, 2019
When they told us that restaurant Žal is on the very shore of the Adriatic Sea we didn't think it is indeed on the shore itself. Sitting on the terrace may prove hazardous if you drink too much, as on one side waves are approaching your table. Nevertheless, it is tremendously nice to sit there and enjoy the view of the eastern coast of the Krk island. Restaurant Žal is situated in the summer resort of Klimno, overlooking the Crikvenica Riviera on the mainland. Very near is another resort Čižići, and two places are separated by Soline, where you can happily bath in mud, considered to have medicinal properties. We went away from here happy without soaking in miraculous mud, as we tried the meals that present the forgotten dishes of Dobrinj and its surrounding.
We picked Žal not only because it is part of the Kvarner Food quality brand but also because we were told by the Tourist Board of Dobrinj they are experts in the local gastronomy. The family Fanuko runs the place and we met the daughter and mother. Both come from the western side of the island. One might assume there is no big difference, but there are. And we looked into these specificities. Overall, Žal specialises in local Krk cuisine, combining the best of locally caught seafood, classic Krk pasta, and meat pleasures, especially the famous Krk lamb. Luckily for the family, the chef, Mr. Siniša Bjelanović, is also the husband of the owner Rozmari Fanuko. It seems every good taste is preserved in the family.
Simple, good, and healthy might be the motto of many forgotten meals here. One such meal is homemade polenta with salted sardines, adorned with fresh parsley and olive oil. It is a combination evoking peasant and fishermen life, very nutritious and with great taste combination. Of course, the saltiness of fish and dryness of polenta asks for some wine along. You can easily find Krk's favourite Žlahtina and don't hesitate to ask for Vranac if you like red ones. Anyone looking for a simple but plentiful lunch can do polenta and fish without a problem at home and it can cost you two euros at most!
Dobrinj is among the most agricultural areas on the island and many family farms exist here. But except some on the homestead Stari kal, most sheep roam more rocky areas around Punat, Kornić and Baška. Here is where Fanukos find the lamb offered to their guests, served as lamb žgvacet, a typical Kvarner dish. Lamb chunks are cooked in a sauce with Mediterranean herbs and are served with macaroni. Here in Dobrinj area šurlice weren't so known as in other areas of Krk. Although today Žal offers šurlice as in any other Krk restaurant and inn, in this traditional cuisine the Fanuko Family sticks to the old recipes. To try žgvacet with macaroni is somewhat different than with šurlice, especially as the macaroni is evidently homemade and excellent, but the lamb is giving the main taste – anyone who likes lamb will enjoy this meal tremendously. Usually, it is prepared mild, but you can spice it up a bit. They will offer you grated cheese along, but you should at least try the pure taste of lamb stew before that.
While we eat, the restaurant gets full. It is the time of lunch and many foreigners decide to come to Klimno and taste the Žal cuisine. Klimno might not be the obvious first or even second choice for lunch, but given the expertise in cooking and the position of the Žal restaurant, you will not be disappointed. That is, if you don't give half of your meal to cats. The ordinary keepers of small ports and seaside resorts often come to greet the tourists with only small requests regarding their bellies. Some are fat as elephants, while others still keep in shape, possibly if they only stick to the fish diet. We followed their example and tried something called kočarska fritura, basically a fish and seafood plate, consisting of skate, monkfish, whiting fish, and squids. Few drops of fresh lemon juice and you are having as fresh lunch as possible, right on the seafront.
As always, the finishing touch is given to the traditional sweets. Fanukos opted for presnoc, a classic Kvarner cake with dozen variations. It could be fair to say that every village has its own presnoc, although the basic ingredients are the same. Some are salty, some are sweet, some are based on cheese, others are not. The presnoc in Dobrinj is very simple and at the same time delicious. It consists of fresh sheep cheese and eggs, with just a few small additions according to taste. The crust is done separately and adorned with sugar. You can easily fall in love with this cake, so we suggest you to find a recipe!
Klimno 44, Klimno