Updated: Jan 7
Every Primorac (a person living in Croatian Littoral region) likes the konoba, a cellar-like part of the house. Mostly they like to enjoy their own konoba but do not run away from anyone else’s, especially to enjoy gastronomic pleasures in it. The tradition of dining in the konoba, where old dishes and other necessities were kept, but also where oil, wine, prosciutto, cheese and cured meat products were found, is a special charm of the Croatian Littoral. In summer the people here cooled from the outside heat with a glass of wine, and in the winter they are heated with sausages and sauerkraut, and there was no lack of minestrone nor songs. Therefore, the konobais an essential part of Croatian gastronomy and local people prefer dine at the konoba (tavern) - which became a symbol of Croatian national restaurants.
There are many taverns in Rijeka, but only one is called Primorska konoba. Part of it is a very special story that needs to come to life in its entirety. Primorska konoba is in the Primorska kuća (Primorje house), a renovated authentic house of this area, which is preserved as a historical value of building and lifestyle in Kvarner. Primorska konoba is part of this project, and this is why the menu of this tavern had to be designed in a way that reflects the traditional pastry of Rijeka, Kvarner and Primorje, as explained by restaurant manager Iva Sušlić.
As the name just says, Primorje is located on the Adriatic coast, rich in blue fish that we especially love to eat. Usually when someone is calling to "marenda" in Rijeka, one of the main options is whether we want to go to a fish-serving konoba or another that has a non-fish menu. In fact, there are a few places that combine both fish and meat meals and the Primorska Konoba is certainly one of them. So, we started this gastronomic journey through Kvarner with anchovies with Swiss chard (blitva) and potatoes, one of the simplest dishes that fed the generations of Primorje people. The Kvarner Bay is rich in tiny blue fish such as anchovies, sardines and sand smelt (girica, gavun), which were easy to catch and which are quickly prepared on a grill. In addition, it is served regularly with swiss chard and potatoes, with little garlic and olive oil. Fast, easy, cheap, fresh and homemade - this is the backbone of this dish!
Many dishes served in the Primorska Konoba are based on some well-known Kvarner cookbooks such as "Zeleno i plavo na pijate" (Green and Blue on a Plate), "Nonina kuhinja" (Grandma’s cuisine) and "Iz padela naših nona" (From our Grandmas’ Pots) that outline the richness of the influence on coastal nutrition. Here is not only the sea presented but also the mountains of Gorski Kotar and the strong influence of Istrian gastronomy. These combinations are most beautifully associated with pork tenderloin in red wine, which was served by chefs Nenad Stojanović and sous-chef Mirjam Rosandić with baked potatoes. The soft tenderloin is, in our opinion, the most delicious part of pork, sometimes called the pork steak. In Primorska konoba, they prepare it carefully and with lots of feelings, since it is a piece of meat that does not have much fat. Along with this, of course, good wine has to go well, and we had a classic blend, Teran-Borgogna of the Istrian winemaker Prodan.
Most recently in Kvarner one can increasingly find pljukanci, which until recently had been almost forgotten hand-made pasta. Long and thin, the pljukanci are not as soft as the rest of the pasta varieties, and somehow they were taken away into oblivion, but modern search for old recipes has revived this pungent pasta that is best served with various gorgeous Istrian and coastal goulash. We have tried pljukanci with tenderloin and fresh mushrooms, more precisely with fresh porcini, which is a great combination of Green and Blue Croatia, i.e. littoral and mountains, for which this region is especially famous. With a mild tenderloin you can especially enjoy the wonderful porcini mushrooms, just in time before they disappear from our forests with the arrival of winter.
As a local dessert, Presnac will often be offered in one of a dozen varieties. It is a cake bearing the same name, but has significant differences from place to place. Waiter Dragan Čuljat brought us something quite different: Crikvenica pancakes! They are embellished with a wonderful combination of curd, walnut and honey, all the ingredients that also describe the coastal region. Curd is a great base for all kinds of nuts and honey, which has long been used from the grassy pastures of mountain peaks above Crikvenica.
Old-fashioned tables and chairs as well as a fireplace and indigenous household items decorate the interior of the tavern, and in front of it is the terrace surrounded by a glass wall that can offer guests the experience of the Old Town of Rijeka even at the time of rain, which is not a rare occurrence in this town. The Rijeka market and the local producers are a constant source of everyday brunches gathering a large number of Rijeka people, and the tavern organizes celebrations for every occasion.
Krojačka ul. 1, 51000 Rijeka
+385 95 671 6717