What to eat and drink in Rab?
Once you have checked in at your accommodation and unpacked, the second most important question in the world will pop up, what to eat? It supposed to be traditional, Croatian and preferably with the signature of Rab’s authentic cuisine. The Island of Rab cherishes traditional Mediterranean cuisine, so let us take you through some local tips.
1) THE ART OF BAKING BELL
The magic bell creates various dishes including veal, lamb, octopus and fish. Keep in mind that because of the length of preparation, it might be necessary to order this kind of meal in advance.
2) GRILLED AND FRIED SEA FISH
Do not confuse these meals with fish & chips. This is not the same. In Rab, if you order fish on a grill you will get a nice whole sea fish plate. As fried fish are usually served sardines or other kinds of small fish. Our favourite, not only for grilled fish but for all seafood is Restaurant Nada. A family led restaurant owned by fishermen, guarantees always fresh offer.
3) TUNA STEAK
Most of the restaurants have fresh tuna steak, but before ordering always check. If you are not a fan of tuna steak, try out tuna tartar. We recommend a restaurant in Hotel Barbat for fancy experience and Restaurant Palit.
It is a meal made of special sauce, like a stew, combined with shells or shrimps. Most popular are buzara made of mussels and shrimp’s buzara. It can be ordered red – with tomato, or white. All restaurants in Rab offer this plain and delicious treat.
5) SHEEP’S STEW
Made of sheep meat, needs to be cooked for hours. Heavy and tasty stew. So if you will be offered from locals to try it, do not miss that since this meal is not served in restaurants and locals prepare it in special occasions only.
White fish, marinated fresh anchovies, octopus, tuna, you name it. Fresh and tasty pieces of sea fish served with olive oil. Our favourites are Restaurant Ana where you will have the best seafood carpaccio, served with homemade bread and Restaurant Astoria, where you will have the best combination depending on fresh fish offer.
Fishermen traditionally used to dry octopus to preserve it when there were no fridges. Today that is a delight. Dried in cold weather, gets a strong flavour and it is the best prepared with scrambled eggs. In restaurants, you can find salad made of cooked fresh octopus.
8) CHEESE AND PROSCIUTTO
They go together like the sun and the moon in Croatian gastronomy. Although there are few small cheese makers on the island, the most popular is sheep cheese from Pag island. In Croatia, we make smoked ham and it is called prosciutto.
Most resistant fruit, pesticides free, has no natural enemies and still can be found growing somewhere next to the road. Fresh figs, dried figs, fig cake, marmalade and schnapps are just some of the faces of this delicious superfood used more and more in modern cuisine combined with cheese, meat, sweets. Let’s stay traditional and start with great homemade marmalade that can be found in Art Gallery Patrikana and check out for fresh and dried figs at Green Market in Rab.
10) RAVIOLI AND DOUGHNUTS
Ravioli are traditionally sweet, prepared along the sea coast of Croatia in similar versions. It is popular sweet during the carnival time in February and March, as well as doughnuts. We know you will say: “What is so special about doughnuts? First, you can try these special doughnuts in summer season only and these are prepared in traditional way, fried in deep oil, like our grandmas used to do. So when in Rab, do not miss to taste the best doughnuts existing on the island of Rab, stuffed with marmalade or chocolate, at pastry Zlatni Rab.
11) RAB’S CAKE
The most recognisable traditional sweet from Rab – Rabska torta. Recipe for this sweet, made of almonds, crystal sugar, lemon peel and Maraskino liqueur, dates from 1177. Then it was for the first time served to Pope Alexander the III. This sweet was prepared in the noble families for special occasions only. The recipe and the art of making this sweet have been recognised as heritage and kept as a secret, so few dare to make it. Rab’s cake is usually made in a shape of snail or small brick. Do not miss to visit The House of Rab’s Cake where you can see this popular sweet is prepared and try it on.
Another traditional sweet made of almonds and spices, small cookies remind of small fingers, tasty. You can try them out in The House of Rab’s Cake too, as well in better supermarkets around Croatia.
When in Rab or elsewhere in Croatia, learn word RAKIJA. Remember it, as once you try any kind of it, you will be using this word very often. Rakija is schnapps actually. Traditional alcoholic drink on Rab is made out of grape leftovers after the wine is done, and it is called LOZA. If it made of plums, we call it ŠLJIVA. Skilful rakija lovers have managed to make advanced versions of rakija aromatized with cherry, walnut, myrtle, figs, and lemon.
We prefer original rakija taste – loza, but try out other kinds too.
13) OLIVE OIL
The golden nectar of health and beauty. As it is an expensive product, very rare restaurants offer it with arms wide open, but always do ask for it. It can be bought in some shops and at the Green Market from locals. To make sure you have original olive oil, we recommend you to visit small olive oil refinery Maslina in Mundanije, where you can buy some olive oil but also try it in.