Best Restaurants in Croatia – Pepenero, Novigrad

Another hard day “in the office”! Pepenero is known for a while now as the restaurant serving the most avantgarde menus in Croatia and specializing in sea food and molecular gastronomy- So, on my recent trip to Istria, it was high, very high on the must visit places.
Pepenero is located in Novigrad and it is part of Villa Cittar hotel. The owner, chef Marin Rendic, is a young chef but with lots of experience and usually considered as one of the top chefs in the country.
Once you reach Novigrad, just follow the signs to Villa Cittar hotel.

Villa Cittar Hotel and Pepenero
Villa Cittar Hotel and Pepenero

So, this Saturday, we decided to have lunch at Pepenero. There was no one there for lunch and it was awesome as we got all the attention we wanted. But the waiter tells us that they have some really busy days and evenings but luckily, this Saturday was not one of them.

The stylish interiors
The stylish interiors with fire place

The waiter was very professional as expected in establishment of this rank. However, there was not a set menu but we had the only option of enjoying the tasting menu so keep that in mind. And it was all sea food as this is primarily sea food restaurant.

In this type of restaurants, I will have to start writing down all the dishes as each one of them is quite complex and there is no chance to memorize them all. Just like our couvert…

Pancacke with fresh cheese and grain bar... or something. Both quite tasty, though!
Pancacke with fresh cheese and grain bar... or something. Both quite tasty, though!
More couvert...
More couvert...

And the show began!

Although I am not a big fan of raw fish, what followed was very delicious! Combination of different tastes and flavors mixing fresh sea food and foam of oranges, tangerines and acceto balsamico into art pieces both wonderful to look at and to eat!

The fillet of flounder (raw) on the leaf of carrot with baby ruccola on top and reduction of acceto balsamico and tangerine juice. Vulcanic salt on the side...
The fillet of flounder (raw) on the leaf of carrot with baby ruccola on top and reduction of acceto balsamico and tangerine juice. Vulcanic salt on the side...

Another great detail here is the bread. If they ever fail as a restaurant, they can start their own bakery for sure! The black one is with cuttle fish..

Bread of Gods
Bread of Gods

Also, we enjoyed some great Istrian wines!

We followed the waiter’s suggestions and everything was spot on! First we went with wonderful Piquentum Malvazija by Brecevic.

Malvazija Piquentum Blanc9
Malvazija Piquentum Blanc9

And than more raw stuff! Kvarner scampi served with the foam of oranges. Quite juicy and really interesting but I would prefer a stronger taste of orange in the foam (or anywhere else on the plate)

Scampi with foam of oranges
Scampi with foam of oranges

Then we moved to cooked stuff with a twist on a local favorite: fritaja with sparuge. We had the same assparagus with egg but served on top of potato bed and with black truffles. Great combination of tastes!

Asparagus, potato,truffles, eggs...
Asparagus, potato, truffles, eggs...

But this was just an overture to a symphony that followed!

The well known Pepenero Smoke Style that was recently featured on Croatian Masterchef!

Pepenero smoke style
Pepenero smoke style

…and this is what it looks like when opening in front of you:

This has to be experienced in the restaurant so no point going into details on what is served on this log. But this was the highlight!

Then the serving went to more extremes! Next dish was served on a rock! Totally Rock n’ Roll!

Fillet of flounder on a rock!
Fillet of flounder on a rock!

And that is not it! The green dots are reduction of St. Jacob’s shells with basilicum, the dust is of sea weed and the brown stuff is a sea sponge! My only question was where they keep the rocks if a group of 30 comes by?

The tastes were fabulous although I prefer my fish baked a bit longer.

The ingredients
The ingredients. Yeah...that looks tasty

I am really a pathetic capacity as I was already full… But how can you say no to a dessert in a place like this?

And then the show continued with some liquid nitrogen preparation of the vanilla ice cream. If that is not different enough, the waiter then poured few drops of Istrian olive oil and some pepper on top… Fabulous!


But that was not the end, of course. How can you leave without a good cigar?

This one was made of chocolate and served with coffee mousse!

Pepenero cigar
Pepenero cigar

This cigar is a bit bitter as it has tobacco dust mixed with chocolate! Very, very unique and interesting taste…

But that was not all sweet served as we enjoyed FABULOUS Clai’s Tasel dessert wine!
If you have a chance, get it! But it is so rare…

Dreamy sweet Tasel by Clai!

And while we were already stuffed, one more delicacy followed… I begged for mercy but it looked me right in the eyes and how could have I said no to this?

Choclate explosion
Chocolate explosion

Although freaky looking, this was the best chocolate I had in years!

It melted and took over the entire mind…

What to say? Is there anything else to write after enjoying and experiencing this?

Yes! They don’t take AMEX so come prepared ;))
The bill was 160 E for two – dirt cheap for all that you have seen on this page and several glasses of wines. The menu alone is 400 Kn for 8 very different courses. Crazy!

Tel: 052 758 542


  1. Mare says:

    looks like a lot of show but the pics and the presentation are almost perfect. i choose to trust your taste and believe it was as delicious as it looked…
    love the combo of the various sea stuff, the rock etc..great article!

  2. @ Mare – Hvala! It was delicious although the raw fish is not something I am crazy about. But the overall experience was really top notch!

  3. wouwwwwwww…detalje češ mi ispričat…poz. i veliki bačo dici…

  4. @ dalmacija – čim se vidimo!

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