top of page

Biograd - Town of Kunjka and Prošek

The mesmerizing dance of fire on the shells has long inspired art, mythology, history, and gastronomy. The golden Aphrodite, symbolizing eternal youth and inner beauty, is said to have emerged from a seashell—perhaps the same kind cherished by Croatian King Petar Krešimir IV, crowned in the royal city of Biograd na Moru. These shells, known locally as kunjka, are delicacies nurtured in the currents of the bountiful Pašman Channel.

During our visit to Biograd, kunjka stood out as the highlight of our culinary experience, perfectly paired with Prošek dessert wines, hallmarks of Dalmatian pride. These delectable shells feature prominently in traditional dishes such as buzara, brudet, pašticada, sauces, and even gourmet burgers!



Organized by the Tourist Board of Biograd and Gastronaut, under the leadership of Karin Mimica, we spent three days exploring the gastronomic treasures of this royal city. The program brilliantly showcased the flavours and aromas of Biograd, a Dalmatian gem that attracts over ten thousand visitors each summer. This journey revealed a unique blend of the North Dalmatian coast’s marine riches and the agricultural traditions of Ravni Kotar, weaving a captivating story with a royal touch.


Crvena Luka

Many citizens of Biograd and their guests flock to Crvena Luka, a renowned Dalmatian summer destination, where we were welcomed with a tasting at the Mamma Rosa restaurant. Highlights included Crvena Luka pasta, a delightful sea-inspired carbonara, and the inventive shrimp and prawn burger. A standout dish was the Biogradska teča, a brudet (brodetto) made with fresh fish, shrimp, and shellfish, enhanced with Prošek.

However, the true star of our tour was Prošek. Despite its similar name, Prošek is distinctly different from Prosecco. This dessert wine, a symbol of Dalmatian vineyards, was first mentioned in 1844 in the Zadar newspaper Gazetta de la Zara, predating the production of Prosecco in Italy by a decade. Prošek is crafted from dried grapes of high-quality local varieties such as rukatac or maraština, vugava, zlatarica, pošip, debit, and Dubrovnik malvasia for white wines, and plavac mali, drnekuša, lasina, muscat-rose, and babić for red wines.

The grapes are naturally dried to maximize dehydration, increasing their sugar content. White Prošek is characterized by a straw yellow color, while the red variety boasts a deep ruby hue. Served well-chilled, Prošek pairs beautifully with dry cakes, pancakes, and traditional desserts. Many Dalmatian restaurateurs have discovered that Prošek enhances various local recipes, making it a faithful companion throughout our culinary journey in Biograd.


Boqueron

The rich and imaginative fusion of Adriatic coast flavours can be savoured at Boqueron. Here, local pljukanci pasta is paired with Zadar truffles, and risotto blends shrimp with local asparagus, showcasing the creativity of the region's cuisine. The main courses are equally inventive: steak in Prošek sauce with bruschetta is a favourite among meat lovers, while pescatarians will be thrilled with swordfish steak served with polenta, shallots, and an anchovy and caper cream.

Swordfish is becoming increasingly popular on Adriatic menus, and for good reason! This unique fish has been caught in the Mediterranean since ancient times. According to legend, when the famed Greek hero Achilles died, his grieving spearmen threw themselves into the sea, where the goddess Thetis transformed them into swordfish. This myth explains the unusual appearance of this tasty fish, which is brought to life with a rich chickpea and caper cream.

To conclude your meal, indulge in dried figs soaked in Prošek, accompanied by a selection of local craft beers. Boqueron is an essential stop for anyone seeking to explore the culinary delights of Biograd.


Casa Vecchia

When King Petar Krešimir IV of Croatia passed away, the nation mourned deeply. People from distant regions travelled to pay their respects to the revered ruler, who was laid to rest in a capsule made of pure gold and adorned with precious stones in the Cathedral of Saint Mary. Though centuries have passed and the cathedral was demolished, no one has sought the golden chest out of profound respect for the king.

This reverence mirrors the respect we hold for the imaginative culinary narrative at Casa Vecchia restaurant. The experience begins with a seafood platter featuring salted and marinated anchovies, smoked swordfish and shrimp, and tuna and cod pâté. While it's tempting to indulge endlessly, the unique pizza with smoked swordfish is a must-try.

We also savoured the Biograd Smash Jam Burger, topped with onion marmalade and Prošek, a testament to the burgeoning burger scene on the Adriatic coast. Inspired by food trucks and burger fairs, Biograd offers top-quality burgers with a creative twist.

Our thirst was quenched with craft beers from the local Brlog brewery, including Plavuša, Neposlušna, and Špurija. Additionally, we enjoyed wines from the organic Jokić winery, rounding out our culinary adventure. Casa Vecchia is a testament to Biograd's rich gastronomic tradition, offering a blend of innovation and respect for local flavours.


Kampanel

Kunjka have a unique way of cleaning. The shellfish of the Pašman Channel are known for their rich, sea-infused taste and aroma. Historically, their shells have even been used in construction. Found naturally at depths of one to ten meters, they are harvested by hand or with a special hook called a "kunjkar." To separate the two halves of the shell, you must remove the "plug" that connects them.

This skill is expertly demonstrated at Kampanel, where it’s quickly learned—essential for enjoying these protein-rich, selenium, magnesium, vitamin B12 and B6, niacin, and omega-3 fatty acid-packed shells. At Kampanel, their culinary value shines in a tasty risotto with kunjka.

Kampanel also excels with other seafood delicacies. Tuna carpaccio with pine nuts elevates tuna beyond the usual steaks and sushi, showcasing its versatility. Pasta with mullet breaks all stereotypes about this fish, often found in murky harbour waters. And pasta with sea urchin is a special treat, highlighting the culinary creativity of Kampanel.


Arkada

The culinary heritage of Eškinja family spans four generations. The father of the current co-owners opened Arkada in 1968 on the island of Pašman. However, the Mornar tavern, founded during great-grandfather's time, served American actors from the movie Winnetou. Back then, fresh fish had to be sourced from Murter, but today, it comes from the nearby waters of Biograd, Pašman, and Kornati.


"We are based on traditional cuisine," says owner Slavica Eškinja, while her sister chuckles, recalling how their father hid her in the kitchen due to her natural shyness. Both grandmothers were excellent cooks who imparted their culinary skills to the sisters—and they have truly succeeded. The restaurant is adorned with old artifacts, and each table features a local map for map enthusiasts. Sipping on excellent homemade herbal brandies, we enjoyed a variety of rich seafood appetizers.

We were served royal cuttlefish with young broad beans in Prošek, slow-cooked for several hours to perfection. As the sisters entertained us in front of the cameras, the flavours of this Biograd waterfront restaurant reminded us that these small cuttlefish are descendants of one of the oldest sea creatures. Renowned underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau dubbed them ancient kings of the sea, as they swam the oceans long before the dinosaurs.


It is fitting to call these cuttlefish royal, not only because of their lineage but also because Biograd itself is a royal city. The Biograd macaroni, handmade "through the finger" at Arkada, are equally regal. We savoured them with Adriatic prawns in a Biograd Prosecco sauce, paired with exceptional wines from PZ Svirče.





Riva


The Riva restaurant, located on the Biograd waterfront, is a hub of activity, drawing visitors eager for a great gastronomic adventure inspired by the sea. The interior reflects a love of sailing, blending nautical elements with the charm of a traditional Dalmatian tavern.




Upon arrival, we were served boiled kunjka, a classic preparation of this shellfish, followed by a kunjka risotto. We learned that even foreign visitors quickly adapt to and enjoy these distinctive flavours. The meal continued with an array of fish delicacies, sourced daily by owner Danijel Šangulin from local fishermen, ensuring the freshest catch.



However, the true highlight of Riva’s menu is the lamb shank, a dish so renowned that it attracts locals from across Dalmatia and beyond. The rich hinterland of Ravni Kotari provides an abundant supply of Dalmatian lamb, a staple of the region's cuisine. This hearty dish reminds us that the name Dalmatia itself is derived from sheep, underscoring the historical and nutritional importance of this noble animal in the local culture.


Daniela


Konoba Daniela is a true gem on Biograd's waterfront, doubling as a small museum. Its walls are adorned with ship tools, parts of vessels, barrels, antique kitchen utensils, and pictures of Biograd's past, all collected by the owner Daniela Jeličić's husband.






"We have been in business for almost 30 years, striving to return to completely local food and collaboration with local suppliers and winemakers," Daniela tells us. "In addition, we maintain our garden, providing our own vegetables for the restaurant."





Daniela welcomed us with a delightful plate of meat and fish flavours, featuring standout items like the exquisite goat cheese from Dugi Otok, sourced from a young farming family with about thirty goats.






We savoured octopus marinated in Prošek, served with polenta prepared in the traditional way with shallots, following Daniela's mother-in-law's recipe. The fantastically tender octopus bursts with flavour, and we were equally impressed by the Royal Biograd buzara and the Biograd brudet with Prošek. These dishes breathe new life into traditional recipes, beautifully combining seafood in generous portions, all enhanced by the touch of Prošek.



Europa

Restaurant Europa is undoubtedly the most photographed spot in Biograd. The restaurant has been in operation for 20 years, but the venue itself has been a part of the local community since the early 20th century, originally functioning as the Hotel and Restaurant Europa. As the largest establishment in Biograd, it has hosted numerous social events, making it a historical gathering place.



The decor creatively incorporates antique items, with the owners explaining how they have collected numerous pieces that, in other places, might be off-limits. Here, guests can sit beside these artifacts and admire them up close.






Lucky visitors are sure to enjoy cooked kunjka and grilled kunjka, two popular ways of preparing this shellfish, as a delightful appetizer before exploring the rest of the generous menu. We were treated to two exceptional dishes.






First, we tasted Dalmatian pašticada, followed by homemade gnocchi prepared by the owners themselves, served with red wine and prosecco. The veal is marinated in water, yeast, and wine for two days, then seasoned with onions, carrots, garlic, and pancetta, and cooked for several hours. The exquisite texture and rich flavours of the pašticada win you over from the first bite!






The black risotto is particularly special, featuring not only cuttlefish but also grouper, mussels, Adriatic prawns, and shrimp—truly the best of Adriatic seafood. This royal risotto, as it is called at Europa, is perfectly paired with a superb wine list.






Beštek


Have you ever thought of pizza with sea bream or veal? At Beštek pizzeria, Kristijan Dubravica has been crafting imaginative menus for the past four years, drawing on over 20 years of experience. Their offerings stand out from the rest, and the ambiance of the old town is enhanced by a massive fireplace where meals are prepared.




The royal salad in the royal city features mackerel, Prošek cream, and balsamic vinegar. The bruschetta delights with smoked swordfish, Adriatic tuna, samphire, and a Prošek and balsamic vinegar emulsion. This rich appetizer is perfectly paired with Plavuša beer from the nearby Brlog craft brewery.




The Black Pizza, named The Queen of the Sea of Biograd, is a regal combination of cuttlefish cooked in prosecco, black pepper, chickpeas, mozzarella, and cherry tomatoes. While its appearance might seem unassuming, its flavours captivate from the first bite. This unique blend of tastes is especially distinctive to Biograd and is sure to be a summer hit.



Another standout is the pizza with smoked seafood, a rich combination of tomato sauce, mozzarella, smoked tuna prosciutto, smoked swordfish, smoked mussels, marinated prawns, samphire, and extra virgin olive oil. Both pizzas are imaginative expressions of Biograd cuisine.




For a sweet end to your visit, try the cheesecake with forest fruits and prosecco, or the Birramissu—a tiramisu made with Brlog brewery's dark beer, substituting beer for coffee. The beer's flavour is almost imperceptible, making Birramissa a delightful twist on the classic dessert.





The extra virgin olive oil used at Beštek comes from neighboring Pakoštani, which won a gold award in New York in 2024 and was the champion at Noćnjak in the category of intense olive oils. It also earned the top prize at the oil fair in Maškovića Han.





Barba

In the old and traditional surroundings of a Dalmatian tavern, Dino Bralić runs the Barba tavern, which is part of the fishing trade that brings the delicious fruits of the Adriatic to the table. In this tavern, the famous Dalmatian word "pomalo" (slowly, take it easy) is a way of life. Dino explains how strange it feels to converse without sitting down and sharing a glass of wine. We soon remedied that, much to the delight of both hosts and guests!

Barba anchovies, prepared in a brudet, come from their own catch. Using anchovies for brudet is born out of necessity. After a month at sea catching blue fish like anchovies, one must find various ways to enjoy this small fish that has sustained generations of Dalmatians. Thus, a new wave of gastronomy is born!







Buzara made of kunjka is a wonderful complement to these flavors, but most guests are drawn to the octopus under the baking lid (peka), a traditional Dalmatian dish. Accompanied by a glass of local wine and the spontaneous songs of a klapa (traditional Dalmatian choir), this is the Dalmatia we dream of and live in, right in the heart of Biograd's old town alleys.


To sit and enjoy food, wine, and people in Barba is a special Dalmatian philosophy of living, a superb way of savouring all the nature has given to the Croatian coast!






Marina Kornati

Restaurant Marina Kornati is nestled within one of Croatia's most stunning marinas, boasting the third-largest capacity in the country with 800 berths. Established in 1977, it stands as the Adriatic's inaugural organized nautical port.

Hosting our gastronomic journey was Illirija, the company behind Marina, in partnership with the Biograd Tourist Board. With 67 years of operation, Illirija manages fifteen highly successful catering and hotel facilities across Croatia, three of which rank among Zadar County's top performers. Additionally, the company spearheads rural tourism in the region.

"In Biograd, we're at the heart of the Adriatic, a culinary hub renowned for its seafood. This area birthed mariculture in Europe. Before us lie the Kornati Islands, around 150 in number, alongside the Zadar archipelago with over 400 islands. We also boast Croatia's largest freshwater lake, Lake Vrana, home to catfish, pike, and carp. Not to mention the fertile plains of Ravni Kotari," shares Damir Maričić.


The local gastronomy is a fusion of sea and freshwater bounty with agricultural and livestock riches, beautifully showcased in the appetizer featuring a refreshing tuna tartare and a spicy steak tartare. Marine Kornati specializes in Mediterranean cuisine, celebrated as one of the healthiest globally.




For many sailors docking at Marina Kornati's 800 berths, it's their inaugural encounter with Croatian Mediterranean cuisine. Krunoslav Majdandžić, the mastermind behind the Mediterranean menu, presented the second appetizer: ravioli filled with battered fish and Pag curd in fish demiglace.



Radoslav Bobanović, owner of MasVin winery, indulged us with his Maraština, Rose from Plavina and Crljenka grapes, and Crljenak itself, sourced from his 60 hectares in Polača, Ravnokotar. MasVin yields approximately 120 thousand bottles of wine annually, alongside 40 to 50 thousand liters of extra virgin olive oil and figs.






The main course—swordfish, tuna, sea bream, and grilled squid, accompanied by celery puree and sweet Dalmatian cabbage—perfectly marries the treasures of the blue Adriatic with Ravni Kotar's fertile lands. Unique to Dalmatia, MasVin produces Muscat Yellow, an ideal pairing with drunken figs. Truly a treat to remember!



Dalmaland

Not far from Biograd lies one of the largest theme parks in Dalmatia, Dalmaland, attracting families with children to Aqua Park, Wild West, Pirate City, and Space attractions. To experience the fun firsthand, we boarded a pirate ship, which set sail to entertain the thrilled journalists. After a few screams and polite requests to halt, we set out to explore other recreational corners of the park.

Refreshment arrived in the form of the invigorating cocktail "Dalmacija u mom oku" (Dalmatia in my eyes), a concoction embodying the essence of our southern region: wine, freshly squeezed lemon juice, orange juice, sage syrup, olive oil, honey, and cucumber. Then, we pondered what lunch would be like in an amusement park. Not only were we surprised, but we were also impressed by the gastronomic delights!


Zabatak Royal Transformation is a rich and nutritious dish for children. It consists of boneless chicken thigh and drumstick, marinated in olive oil and rosemary, stuffed with cheese, and wrapped in Dalmatian pancetta. It is served with celery sauce and toasted almonds, alongside julienne-cut sweet potatoes sprinkled with flower of Pag salt. In Dalmaland, they say it's the royal chicken that turns princes and princesses into kings and queens. We're not sure if we became part of the royal court, but we were certainly thrilled with the meal.

However, the most enticing part of this gastronomic adventure is the Dalmatian pašticada named "Opijeni morem" (Intoxicated by the Sea), slowly cooked in a sauce with Prošek wine and served with homemade gnocchi, all in the presence of a massive sea stone.


Biograd na Moru enchants with its Mediterranean scenery and exquisite gastronomy, represented in the restaurants we visited. Beautiful hospitality and charming Dalmatian atmosphere will win your hearts and palates for a beautiful culinary holiday!

Photos: Taste of Adriatic, Rino Gropuzzo & TZ Biograd na Moru

Recent Posts

See All

Commentaires


bottom of page