If you are looking for cheap restaurants in Istria, my suggestion would be either local eateries – konoba, places serving daily lunch dishes (called: gablec or marenda) or pizzerias.
I've already written about konoba, and reviewed some of them. Traditional, sometimes old fashioned restaurants serving daily lunch dishes are the cheapest places for lunch anywhere in Croatia. These are no-frills restaurants serving honest, traditional Croatian dishes for as low as 35 Kn a dish.
Pizzerias are also cheap restaurants in Istria, price-wise somewhere in-between local eateries and marenda places. Pizzerias in Croatia, beside pizzas, serve but also pasta, risotto and grill dishes as well as salads. Beside, they are really great.
Most pizzerias bake their pizzas in wood-burning ovens giving the tender crust a hint of char. Pizzas are European style, with a thin crust and a zesty tomato. A dough is made fresh several times a day. Guests can watch flour-dusted chefs punch and pull mounds of dough in front of a wood-fired oven.
Normally, every pizzeria offers a choice of at least 10 different pizza toppings: from most simple margarita with tomato sauce and cheese, to more unusual choices like Truffle paste pizza or Istrian pizza with dry cured ham or rocket salad.
You can also ask for extra toppings or mix and match toppings from different pizzas offered and in a way come with your unique pizza topping. Also, it is very common in pizzerias in Croatia, and Istria respectively, to ask for half of a pizza made with one choice of toppings and the other half made with other choice of toppings.
This way, if you are sharing your pizza with another person, each can have its half the way they like it the most. If you like your pizza spicy, beside Tabasco, you can ask for olive oil with pimentos – Frank's favorite spicy ingredient in Istria.
Pizzerias, beside pizzas, offer also simple menu with pasta dishes, salads, and grilled meat and veggies. So if somebody in your party doesn't feel like eating pizza, they will always be able to order something else.
That's why pizzerias are actually considered more like cheap restaurants in Istria than just a pizzeria. Almost all of them offer cevapcici, typical Bosnian meal, but very popular in Croatia too. It is a finger shaped minced meat, grilled and served with french fires, flat bread roll, pepper spread and chopped onions.
Pizza prices range between 45 kn (approx. 6 €) and 60 kn (approx. 8 €) depending on the toppings. And other dishes offered are in the same price range. So pizzerias are really good choice if you are looking for cheap restaurants in Istria.
Pizzas come in two sizes: small (plenty for one person), and large (too large for one person, normally it is shared between two persons). Frank is not able to eat the entire small pizza himself. Two small pizzas per three adults is probably an optimal order.
In my opinion, your chances of eating a great pizza in Istria are pretty high. Still, my favorite pizzerias are Pizzeria Nono in Porec and Pizzeria Sergio in Rovinj.
Pizzeria Sergio in Rovinj is located on the Grisia, a main street leading up to the church, and it serves the cracker-thin crust pizza. The dough is actually the best I've eaten as it is really cracker-thin, but it doesn't fall apart as many thin dough pizzas do. It stays straight.
Pizzeria Nono in Porec serves excellent pizza but I also like it for its hospitality. During the summer evening, expect to wait for the table outside, as there are not too many tables on the terrace.
Another interesting pizza place in Porec is Stari Saloon (Old Saloon) that serves XXXL pizza size – 1.2 m in diameter. Although pizzas they make at Stari Saloon are very tasty, they are not made in a wood-fired oven, so it doesn't enter the list of my favorite pizzerias. But it certainly offers a show and it can be a fun choice for experience if nothing else. Also, it goes under category of cheap restaurants in Istria.