Five Istrian dishes you ought to try when in Istria include cold cuts, bean soup, pasta, steaks and scrambled eggs. Don't get me wrong, Istria has many more traditional dishes than these five. But I tried to think of ones you will find in majority, if not in every, traditional Istrian restaurants.
If you are visiting, don't miss tasting these five delicious dishes.
Table of Contents
Genuine Istrian Dishes
#1: Manestra – Bean soup (plain, with cabbage, with corn,…)
To my knowledge this is the only region in Croatia where bean soup is given a special name and place in a regional cuisine. Manestra is actually a bean soup. Cooked slowly on a low fire for hours with cured meat and bones, this delicious soup is one of the Istrian trademarks. Varieties include bean soup with corn and bean soup with sauerkraut. Although it can be a little bit heavy for hot summer days, it is still a must try when in Istria.
#2: Pasta (game, cattle, mushrooms, truffles)
Pasta is served everywhere in the world, so there is nothing special about just another pasta dish, somebody would say. Yet, pasta made it to my list of five genuine Istrian dishes you shouldn't miss. First reason is that in the majority of Istrian traditional restaurants you will be served fresh, homemade pasta. Admit!, it is a go, go. Second, Istrians have their own, indigenous types of pasta. One type, fuzi, is a quill shaped pasta, similar to Italian penne but with horizontal rather than vertical ridges. Another type, pljukanci, is a thin and long, hand-rolled pasta. The most popular pasta sauces are: chicken, game or cuttle meat goulash and without a doubt, pasta with truffles. If you haven't known the largest white truffle in the world was actually found in Istria.
#3: Cold cuts (pork loin, sausages, prosciutto, …)
Istrian cured meat is excellent. It is prepared from pork. In majority of local eateries, you can sample their homemade cold cuts: prosciutto, sausages, pork loin.
Let me tell you, Istrian meat is of an excellent quality. Certainly, far less famous than Argentinian beef, Istrian beef is still absolutely worth tasting when in Istria. At many local eateries the meat served is homegrown, fresh, cut to order and delicious. Fillet, T-bone steak or a rib, steak aficionados will not be disappointed with the choice and quality of beef cuts in Istria. For the ultimate Istrian experience, order boskarin steak. Boskarin, an Istrian ox, is a white and grey long horned cattle, and a symbol of the region.
#5: Scrambled eggs (truffles, wild asparagus, wild mushrooms)
It is a simple dish, prepared everywhere in the world. Still, my feeling is that there is no place in the world that pays so much attention to scrambled eggs like Istria. Here it is offered everywhere. Variations offered depend on the season: wild asparagus in spring, wild mushrooms in fall and truffles in winter.
If you liked this post, you might like Momondo's blog post on 5 Croatian regional bites.
What do you think about these five Istrian dishes? Would you taste them?
25 thoughts on “5 genuine Istrian dishes you won’t want to miss”
Let me tell you that all of these dishes look extremely healthy and delicious. I like simplicity so bean soup would be definitely my no.1 meal to order. Cold cuts look good for a party or as a night snack!
I’m sold! I love food and it all looks delicious! I’m on the new mission, I’m looking for a husband in Istria :)
Lol Marysia. Don’t forget that a real Istrian comes with a vineyard too :). Thanks for the comment, girl!
Scrambled eggs done right are so heavenly. I love cured meats too. Hungry hungry and I just ate breakfast with scrambled eggs! I want more now…
Lol Adelina! True, scrambled eggs can be royal.
Ooh, I want to try that pasta. And I usually think scrambled eggs are boring – but I would love them with asparagus!
Thanks, Jess! Wild asparagus are awesome. Still have freezer full of them :)
Wow, I can just stay there and eat my heart away for weeks, now that is my kind of tour, one day I’ll visit Istria and mostly for the food….Hope you can come and link up with us today with your post for Travel Photo Mondays, the link is live, thanks
Hi Noel, thanks for stopping by. Istria is a paradise for foodies. Winter is dangerously slow and full of good stuff to eat :). I’ll link up tomorrow. Thanks for the invitation.
Those look like the best scrambled eggs in the world. Seriously. I want to have those somewhere when I come to visit.
As for Minestra – we have similar in Slovenia. I was always under the impression that it was Italian, the Slavic word for ‘minestrone’. But I guess that this version here, and ones I’ve had in Slovenia, are variations. Or rather, the Italian version is a variation of Istria’s. :)
Yes Bob, I thought the same when I just moved here in Istria. But I think Italian minestrone is actually lighter, and the vegetables are different (?!). As for scrumbled eggs, we can make a deal! Just ring us when you decide to visit :)
Back in my meat-eating days, I would devour every single thing on this list. Nowadays, I’ll have to stick to the Manestra and the scrambled eggs (which look delicious, by the way!). Hmm, the pasta with truffles might make the cut as well :) Lovely post, congrats. Good luck and keep on enjoying Croatia’s many delectable surprises!
Lol Lunaguava. I kind of went opposite way – from no meat to some meat. Manestra would work fine :)
I was naturally expecting a photo of fuzi and truffles. (That’s my go-to meal when I’m up in Istria.) I think of wild boar sausage, too – but it’s possible I’m thinking of somewhere else, perhaps in Slovenia….
Hi Tina, thanks for stopping by! I can see that you know your way around :). Yes, wild boar sausages must be more in Slovenia, although you can find them in some konobas specialised for game.
We managed to get to an Istrian-owned restaurant when we were in Croatia (unfortunately we didn’t get to Istria itself), and we loved the food. We tried the homemade pasta with truffles, some meats and cheeses from the region, and a steak – all were absolutely amazing! I would love to get back and try that scramble and the soup though, they look so good! Thanks for sharing and giving us yet another reason to go back to Croatia (as if we needed any more!). Safe travels!
Hi Travis, I hope you guys are actually planning on visiting again. Istria is great. It’s the best region of Croatia when it comes to food and wine (lacks nice beaches though :-). Let us know if you are ever in the area, we’ll love to meet up for a drink.
I was really expecting some seafood options, but I’m glad there weren’t any since I don’t really care for seafood. :)
Since we plan to travel in that general area this year, I will have to give the scrambled eggs a try.
Hi Ann, thanks for stopping by. Glad you are into meat, and other hearty dishes :-). Let me know if you decide to come, would be happy to share any insider’s tips with you.
I am ready for some Istrian cold colds right about now. Very interesting how heavily truffles are involved in the regional cuisine!
Hi Dave, thanks for stopping by. True, the only thing is that you need to know where to eat truffles in Istria. Many places buy cheap, imported truffles and serve them as Istrian. This make me angry. But once you know the places, believe me you are in for a great truffles feast. Sure, if you like them.
Ahhhh now I had the pasta & eggs when I was there – sometimes for dinner and lunch. I never knew about the bean soup, I’d like to try that. It looks very different from the Dalmatian soups we eat down this way.I have pinned this post, I do hope that’s okay.
Yes, Mrs. Chasing the Donkey, bean soup is the pride of Istria :-). Next time you are in Istria, I’ll treat you to a bean soup.
I’m going to have to stop reading your posts–I think I gain 10 pounds every time. I love scrambled eggs, but I’ve never craved them as much as I did when I saw that picture. The pasta with truffles looks amazing too :)
A Southern Gypsy, thanks! These scrambled eggs are with wild asparagus. Don’t know if you’ve tasted them yet. One of my favorite spring treats. I go to the woods to find them myself. Great activity!