In September 2021, Michelin issued its 2021 edition guide for Croatia, confirming stars for previously added restaurants and including three new one-star restaurants: Agli Amici in Rovinj, Alfred Keller from Mali Lošinj and Nebo, in the newly opened Hilton Hotel in Rijeka. In this article, we’ve updated the list of Croatia’s members, a carefully selected list of places with extraordinary cuisine.
A tradition that started in 1900 by the French company Michelin is now considered to be a hallmark of fine dining and culinary perfection. Restaurants around the world aim to earn Michelin stars, meeting high standards of quality and creativity. Stars elevate them to a restaurant hall of fame and guarantee prestige. Croatia joined the list of countries with Michelin-starred restaurants and is proud of the carefully selected list of places with extraordinary cuisine.
Michelin, a tire manufacturer from France, started an annual Michelin Guide in 1900. The primary goal was to create inspiration for road trips, with the aim of improving tire sales.
They wanted to give their buyers extra value, as the first guide had a map with driving routes, tire replacement, and fixing instructions, as well as a list of restaurants and hotels along popular routes.
Initially, the guide was free, but Michelin saw the opportunity for profit due to its popularity. They upgraded the guide and introduced the now famous Michelin Star, a rating of excellence for restaurants and chefs. Over time they introduced a three-star rating system with specific requirements for each star rating.
One star stands for high-quality cooking, worth a stop, two stars indicates excellent cooking which is worth a detour, and three stars represent the highest category, restaurants with exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.
Michelin hires reviewers, known as inspectors. They are employed by Michelin and have a set of core values. The most important is staying anonymous. This ensures that they don’t get any special treatment as it gives credibility to the star rating system.
They must be independent and not associated with any other organisation other than Michelin. Inspectors are professionals, highly skilled individuals, and experts in the food, dining, and hospitality industry.
When Michelin inspects a restaurant, this is done through multiple visits of a group of inspectors. They rate restaurants based on their five standard criteria:
1. Quality of products
2. Mastery of flavour and cooking techniques
3. The personality of the Chef represented in the dining experience
4. Harmony of the flavours
5. Consistency throughout inspectors’ visits.
To Michelin, it’s important to review restaurants based only on the food that is served. They will never take into account the interior design, comfort, or service when assigning a star rating. These factors are rated with the separate system of giving crossed fork and spoon symbols, rated 1-5.
Inspectors share detailed reports and decide unanimously when giving a star rating. It’s also possible to lose a star; inspectors will return to check up on quality, and if the standard is no longer as it was, they will withdraw it.
Michelin Stars around the world
Getting a Michelin star is obviously not an easy task. Restaurants need to prove the highest standards of food and culinary skills. Around the world, there are a total of 2712 restaurants that hold the award.
Looking into each tier, Michelin inspectors awarded a total of 135 restaurants with three stars. Most of them are located in France and Japan. Having France leading the list is no surprise, considering French cuisine’s popularity worldwide.
Japan follows Tokyo being the city with the second most significant number of Michelin stars globally, at 226.
The Michelin guide currently has 417 two-star restaurants spread across 26 countries, with Japan and France leading again. Kyoto is the most awarded city of the category, with a total of 22 two-star restaurants.
Precisely 2160 restaurants around the world are awarded one Michelin star. Croatian restaurants proudly joined the list, currently with ten restaurants joining the elite ranks of culinary excellence.
The best ten restaurants in Croatia
Agli Amici Rovinj is a restaurant that comes from the collaboration between Family Scarello and Maistra Hotels. The family owns one of the most prestigious restaurants in Italy, Agli Amici in Godia, awarded with two Michelin stars.
They have opened a restaurant in Rovinj, located between the Grand Park Hotel and the Marina, with breathtaking panoramic views of the Adriatic. The restaurant’s chef Emanuele Scarello brings a unique and unforgettable experience through a menu that unites Istria and the Friuli Venezia Giulia region.
At Agli Amici, guests can enjoy three tasting menus designed by chef Scarello: Godia, Istria and Rovinj. Menu Godia consists of classic dishes that made chef Scarello famous. Istria is dedicated to regional cuisine, while Rovinj offers Mediterranean cuisine. All menus are paired with excellent wine, and a sommelier is available at all times for wine recommendations.
The concept Agli Amici Rovinj follows is one of sustainability, passion for food and exploration of flavours.
The creative vision of chef Michael Gollenz in Alfred Keller in Mali Lošinj brought the restaurant a Michelin star in 2021. The carefully designed concept of a gastronomic experience puts meat and fish at the centre of attention.
The menu is often changing, as it depends on sustainability and the availability of locally produced ingredients.
The dishes represent the authentic cuisine of the island of Lošinj and the surrounding area. Highlights on the menu are scampi carpaccio, flounder with fennel and kulen sausage, and grilled ribs with pepper. The wine list complements the tasting menu, featuring wines from renowned Croatian and regional winemakers.
Guests visiting Alfred Keller, besides enjoying the excellent food of chef Gollenz, will be welcomed in an interior that reflects the new vision full of neutral colours, organic shapes and wall to wall windows giving a beautiful panoramic view of the Čikat bay.
Restaurant Nebo is located on the fifth floor of the newly opened Hilton Rijeka Costabella Resort and is run by the award-winning chef Deni Srdoč, who earlier brought one Michelin star to the Draga Di Lovrana restaurant.
Project Nebo was carefully prepared over the course of a year, as Chef Srdoč designed the menu of 5, 8 or 14 courses. Dishes offer to tell Croatia’s culinary history, with traditional specialities made with local ingredients featuring modern and adventurous twists.
Chef Srdoč explores the very limits of each ingredient, creating a unique gastronomic journey. The concept of five greetings from the kitchen symbolises each of the five gastronomic regions of Croatia: Istria, Lika, Dalmatia, Međimurje and Slavonia. The menu is paired with an impressive wine list featuring some of the most famous labels worldwide.
Located on the top floor of the Hilton hotel, the view of the Adriatic Sea and Opatija is unforgettable, followed closely by the modern interior design.
Restaurant Monte sits at the top of a narrow street in the heart of Rovinj, overlooking the famous St. Eufemia church. Owned by a couple, Chef Danijel and sommelier Tjitska Đekić, Monte is the first restaurant in Croatia that earned a Michelin star.
It is a place where locally produced ingredients serve as an inspiration for three degustation menus. Red, Green, and Blue menus offer creative, theatrical, and contemporary cuisine by Chef Danijel paired with matching Croatian wines.
Monte’s specialties are Omega 3, fish from the Adriatic, Suckling pig, and Apple & Rose.
360° only serves dinner and they offer two five-course tasting menus and a shorter a la carte menu. The menu is a combination of Mediterranean and local dishes prepared using French cooking techniques. Specialties of the menu are scallops, pan-fried duck breast and Kadaif filled with cooked pear.
The restaurant is uniquely situated alongside the walls of Dubrovnik and the tower of St. John. As the name suggests, the terrace offers a 360° view of the Adriatic Sea and the old town of Dubrovnik. Inside, the dining room is a combination of original stone walls and modern details, with an attractive glassed wall kitchen.
Korčula island and Lešić Dimitri Palace are the stage for another Michelin star-rated restaurant in Croatia.
Carefully composed by Head Chef Marko Gajski, the menu is focused on Mediterranean cuisine made of local products, especially olive oil and fish. Highlights are Foie Gras, Prawn Gyoza, and Chocolate Crocante.
The restaurant has a beautiful terrace, steps away from the sea. It runs along with the Old town medieval walls for a stunning panoramic view of Korčula’s archipelago.
Šibenik, as a city, has been living a true renaissance over the past few years. The best confirmation of success is restaurant Pelegrini, the proud owner of a Michelin star since 2018. Pelegrini is located next to a monumental Šibenik Cathedral.
Chef Rudolf Štefan leads the team that serves local ingredients in a sophisticated and new way. The result of careful research is the creation of a one-of-a-kind menu. Local seafood like mussels, oysters, sea urchins, and meat, especially lamb and veal, is cut and presented creatively and uniquely. In Pelegrini, guests will enjoy a unique combination of flavours paired with an impressive wine list.
The terrace gives a stunning view of the building, while the interior features the original stone walls and gives a rustic feeling.
The culinary team behind the Boškinac menu show their respect for the traditional cuisine of the island, as they serve local dishes served in a new, creative way. The menu connects colours, scent, and tastes of the island of Pag, especially goat cheese and lamb. Boškinac serves two degustation menus, with specialities such as scampi, lamb ribs, and carob dessert.
Boškinac is a story that unites a hotel on Pag island with extraordinary culinary experience and a winery, located away from the busy coast, surrounded by vineyards and olive fields.
It is a place that cherishes local heritage and is a true oasis of peace and calm.
Family Nikolac, fishermen who started renovating an Austrian-Hungarian estate, created a charming boutique hotel in the Kvarner region.
What brings visitors is a prestigious Michelin star, thanks to the creativity and knowledge of Chef Deni Srdoč. Seafood is brought fresh from the owners’ ships as the Chef and his team create balanced, modern, and creative dishes. The cuisine is a blend of Mediterranean cuisine with French and Italian twists, complemented by an impressive wine list.
Some of Draga di Lovrana’s restaurant specialties are Boškarin, Istrian cattle with pasta, lamb backstraps, and baked apple terrine.