Wine & More

7 Must-Try Croatian Summer Dishes

Grilled fish or riba na gradele

Now that you decided to spend your summer vacay in beautiful Croatia, it’s time you get to know our eating habits.

Here are some of the most popular dishes that are typically served along the Adriatic coast.

Brudet (brodet)

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Brudet is a traditional fish stew made of various types of fish. There are specific fish varieties used for it because each has its own role in making this stew perfect.

The secret of a good brudet is that it is shaken, not stirred (how very James Bond, we know).

It is best served over polenta and with a glass of full-bodied rosé wines. Our suggestions are ones made from Plavac Mali grape varieties

Or opt for curious and structured gems such as  Nerica Crni Pošip Rosé, produced from a rare variety called black Pošip.

If you are a fan of reds, go with a lighter red wine, such as awarded ones made from indigenous varieties Plavina and Lasina.


Photo credit: John Bek and

Buzara is a must-try dish made of shellfish and crustaceans. There are two famous buzara

  • scampi alla buzara (busara in Italian) and
  • mussels buzara.

On the one hand, the scampi version is usually prepared for special occasions since scampi from the Adriatic Sea are considered a true delicacy.

Connoisseurs from all over the world will agree our scampi has a very delicate and specific taste. Mussel buzara, on the other hand, is a part of everyday life and cucina povera (poor man’s cuisine).

There is also one more difference among the two – scampi buzara is seasoned with tomato, which has a red sauce, whereas mussels buzara has a plain white sauce.

Scampi buzara pares nicely with crispy, fresh rosé with enough body to handle red sauce. Our suggestions go down with

Whereas mussels go down nicely with rich white wines such as

Gradele (grill/traditional way of preparing fish)

Photo: Gradele

There is literally no way you can miss gradele because it is THE way to prepare fresh fish throughout the Croatian coast.

It represents the art of grilling a whole fish (big or small, head included) over an open fire.

People prepare it both at home and in restaurants. If you are invited to someone’s summerhouse on the coast, there is a 99,9% chance you’ll be served fish prepared on gradele.

The only prerequisite for gradele is fresh fish. The art of gradele is to grill the fish while keeping it juicy perfectly; the bigger the fish the bigger the challenge.

Once perfectly grilled, fish is traditionally served with blanched Swiss-chard, boiled potatoes, and olive oil-parsley-garlic sauce.

Pair it with indigenous whites such as Malvasia Istriana, Pošip, Debit, Maraština, or light-body red Plavina and Lasina.

We strongly recommend:


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Even though Mediterranean cuisine is famous for being light at all times, some traditional dishes are actually very hearty.

Pašticada is one of these dishes. In its essence, it is pot-roasted beef with red wine and dry prunes. However, the specificity of pašticada is that every family has its own recipe.

Goes without saying that each family thinks their recipe is the best. This thick beef stew is traditionally served with homemade gnocchi and a glass, better a bottle :), of Plavac Mali.

Our recommendations are:


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Peka is a Croatian word symbolizing all dishes prepared under an iron bell. It is a traditional way of preparing various types of food for a larger party.

Peka can be made of various foods – from lamb, veal and game meat to poultry or octopus.

What you do is – you put everything (meat/fish, potatoes, vegetables)in a deeper round baking tray, which is then placed in a fireplace, enclosed with an iron bell and covered with coal.

After an hour or two, your peka is ready.

It is usually a man’s job to make peka; God forbid your neighbor or friend makes better peka than you.

Choose any type of red wineTeran, Crljenak (Zinfandel), Babić, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Plavac Mali.

Our recommendations are:


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Italy has prosciutto, Spain has pata negra, and we in Croatia have Pršut.

In its basis – a dry cured hinter pig’s leg – Pršut varies depending on the region. In Istria, the ham (bone-in) is dry, seasoned with local herbs and salt, then dried over bura (northern wind).

In Dalmatia, the ham (also bone-in) is salted, smoked over natural smoke, and dried over bura for at least one year.

We’re quite sure you’ll get to try different types of pršut as it is a favorite appetizer in most konobas (osterias) down the coast.

Go for traditional reds such as Teran or Babić.

Our recommendations are:

Punjena paprika – stuffed paprika

Photo: Stuffed paprika

Certainly, one of the most unusual summer dishes is stuffed paprika. However, it is also one of the all-time favorites for most Croatians.

Eaten both in the hinterland and along the coast, it is best served hot on a warm summer day, as funny as it sounds.

You won’t find it in many restaurants, but if someone invites you to their home for punjena paprika – go for it.

Graševina is the perfect match for this dish.

We highly recommend:

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