In all of Lika, there is no pizzeria more famous than Ruspante, and the name has spread throughout Croatia and beyond. It will be difficult to find a pizzeria on our pages, because few deserve a special mention, and Ruspante has such a position. Located right next to Majerovo vrilo, one of the sources of the Gacka river, Ruspante attracts guests who know how to travel from far away for this pizza, which speaks not only of the quality but also of the marketing skills. All this is the work of Ante Svoren, a native of Senj who, together with his wife Antonija, returned to Croatia from Ireland and opened this pizzeria in her hometown of Sinac.
There is no free table here. Those who happen to visit Sinac, attracted by its good reputation, are often disappointed because reservations are strongly required at Ruspante. That table was readily waiting for us, and the owner Ante joined us. He is in a hurry, he says, because his wife gave birth to a second child just a few days ago. The first son, Patrik, already has his tasks, because nothing in life is for free. Despite the rush, we spend over an hour in a pleasant conversation, while the crowd around us does not subside. "People who come, try the pizzas and come back with ten new people. The owner of Hedonist in Zadar, Dado, stopped by once. He showed the pictures to his wife, so they started coming, and in the end they bought a house in Sinac", Ante tells us energetically.
The pizzas we tasted were really superb! The reason is not so much in the skills of the pizza maker, or even in the bread oven, as in the quality of the ingredients. Ante proudly tells us about this aspect for which Ruspante is famous: "Domestic groceries are procured from local Lika family farms. We go to Perušić for eggs, we buy Škripavac cheese in Mušaluk, sausages, bacon and crackers from Švica, trout from a fish farm a few metres away, and homemade flour comes from the mill. It's not the cheapest, but the quality is top-notch and people recognize us for that."
First we try Sinčeranka pizza. As its name suggests, it is related to Sinac's most famous product - trout. The pizza is made with Lika Basa soft cheese that contains dill and olive oil, cheese, olive oil with garlic, olives, oregano and fresh basil, and the highlight is, of course, smoked trout. It comes from the neighbouring fish farm on Majerovo vril, where it is also smoked, and is offered to the market as a premium product. Perfectly balanced flavours give a light touch to this pizza, which the staff is particularly proud of.
We noticed that the employees are quite young, but professional, educated, dressed in great work suits. They work all year round and are satisfied with their position in a country where owners often do not care about their employees, especially during the summer season. Here, no one thinks of going on such adventures, and they are incredibly kind and helpful to their guests. Great light rock/soul/blues music plays in the background, there are no local drunks on duty making noise, and the visitors are relaxed, looking at the sheep grazing peacefully across the road or at the famous mills on Gacka. All this is a recipe for success.
We wonder what the name Ruspante means, so Ante readily answers: "In Ireland, I worked with people from Sicily, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, Poland, Norway... I learned something from everyone. The Italian revealed the name of Ruspante to me. In Italian, it is the name for domestically raised chicken. It's a sounding name, so my wife decided to call the pizzeria by that name!" Water polo player Dubravko Šimenc brings here employees of tourist boards as well as the Croatian Water Polo Association, grandmaster chess player Alojzije Janković is a regular guest, and there will also be a humanitarian chess cup in Sinac, and that series of famous there is no end of people.
We were especially delighted with the Lika Winter pizza. In the middle of summer, we enjoyed a pizza with tomato, cheese, bacon, homemade sausages, homemade Škripavac, homemade cracklings, olive oil with garlic, olives and oregano, which convinced us of the importance of quality homemade ingredients and the correctly named "Lika pizza". Fatty and delicious meat flavours blend with good dough, and thirst is quenched with craft beer from the Varionica brewery.
Other special pizzas on the menu include Deda Tonča (with homemade sausages and bacon), Orion (with smoked chicken and bacon), Ruspante (with smoked chicken, gorgonzola and homemade Genovese pesto), Dudin san (mozzarella di bufala, smoked chicken, parmesan, Genovese pesto, cayenne pepper; this pizza was created as a challenge by Dubravko Šimenc to his friend Aljoša Asanović), and Lambpizza by Ribafish (Lika Basa and leg of lamb baked in a bread oven). Such original pizzas Lasagna Bolognese is also made here, as well as pizzas that are regularly on menus throughout Croatia.
People also come to Ruspante for pancakes, and each of them awakens a strong desire for sweets. We tried Gačanka, pancakes with homemade fresh cheese baked in a bread oven, with which we were served three types of homemade jam. With each bite, we got closer to Lika's sweet paradise, with a determined desire to return to Ruspante and try other pizzas and pancakes, among which stand out Crazy, confused, normal (with honey, walnuts, apricot jam and apricot compote), Route 66 ( peanut butter, strawberry jam, and peanuts), and Alaska by Riana Patenjak, who came up with the idea of pancakes based on pistachios, Nutella, mascarpone, and maple syrup.
"Position is not important. People come to us from Zagreb, Rijeka, Zadar. All this is relatively close, but even if it is not, the story and quality are the reasons why we have so many visitors", Ante tells us, with which we completely agree and recommend everyone to come:
Sinac 135, Otočac
+385 53 787 787