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L'avis de Gault&Millau
The little village of Zambratija, on the north western coast of Istria, houses Pergola, one of the best Istrian restaurants. The fact that the chef and owner of the restaurant, Fabricio Vežnaver, was awarded with the Gault & Millau trophy of the great chef of tomorrow for 2019 is enough reason to pay a visit to the place. When, once on the spot, you meet his wife Lili, who exudes warmth and sincere love for what she is doing, you know that your choice to come was justified. The restaurant is beautifully decorated, the furniture is minimalist with some cookbooks on the shelves or sea decoration. The space is dominated by a large fireplace. The crackling fire in winter time greatly contributes to the atmosphere. What is unusual in such a restaurant is that there are only three people working there. In addition to the chef and his wife, a young assistant works in the kitchen, so the restaurant has a real family atmosphere, which makes a great difference with the gourmet restaurants of this type. The excellent wine list includes some of the best Croatian labels. The restaurant offers only a tasting menu that changes depending on the season, and the number of courses can be decided on the spot. The dinner was regularly interrupted by delisious amuse-bouche off the menu. We especially enjoyed the divine fritters with seaweed and the excellent homemade bread that went great with the collection of wonderful extra virgin olive oils by Mate. We started the dinner with a succulent shrimp carpaccio, in a reduced shrimp head sauce that was a real explosion of flavour. Then we had scampi: brilliant, fresh and almost raw, touched by the grill just for a second, enough to highlight all the fullness of its taste. This was followed by an excellent octopus with sauteed leeks, orange cream and an unexpected, yet very logical peanut sauce. As a break from the fish sequence of the dinner, we tried one classic dish from the Istrian cuisine – the ravioli with cottage cheese and white truffles. A rhapsody for the senses - a fantastic dough, a creamy and mild curd combined with a rich, aromatic truffle. A dish that everyone should try, at least once. The finale of the dinner was a boškarin steak (the Istrian autochthonous cattle). Perfect, buttery meat full of taste, served with a delicious potatoes gratin. We sweetened up with a chocolate cake and candied oranges, a classic combination of flavours in a dessert. Light and not too sweet, it rounded off perfectly the whole dinner. Chef Vežnaver cooks brilliantly, bravely and creatively, with a deep understanding of the ingredients he uses. His cooking is getting better and better and this year he obtained a higher score and his fourth Gault&Millau toque. y yearPergola is a must for true gourmet and he definitely deserves his 4th Gault&Millau toque. By entering in the narrow circle of the Croatian highest level restaurants, which reputation crossed the borders, his Pergola became a gourmet destination for the most refined lovers of haute cuisine.