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Restaurant “Stari Grad 02” Pula: The Place to try the Adriatic squids

by Gogo on June 5, 2009

in Restaurants

I really do not remember how many times have I been in “Stari Grad 02” but the count is surely above ten, more than any other eating place I visited in my life. It is not a fancy place with highly sophisticated and innovative dishes and great choice of wines. It is just a decent fish and seafood restaurant, one of the few with moderate prices in Pula.

The atmosphere is informal and relaxed, you feel like home here. The decor inside is in a rustic istrian-style that I find more appropriate for winter time, but since the weather was beautiful we opted to sit outside on a nice wooden patio. Ambient 7/10

Here the emphasis is not on tourists but on a steady clientele and waiters are very friendly, fun and attentive. We ordered a liter of house white wine – Chardonnay from Arman. It is a sincere young wine, a typical young chardonnay made in stainless steel, low-to-medium body, crisp and fragrant, that goes so well with the seafood. I have asked for some olive oil to pour it on a piece of bread – a perfect appetizer if the oil is good. Here it was not exceptional like in Girotondo, but of above-average quality. Although not homemade, the bread was also very good. There is no cover charge (couvert). Details 8/10

It was the asparagus season so for entrée we took a really exceptional Scampi risotto with wild asparagus (I apologize for not having the photo of the dish). Dividing the plate in two proved to be a right option since the portion was abundant. And the risotto was made just perfect, using great ingredients and a good fish stock. The scampi were obviously fresh, not frozen since the meat was juicy and of slightly tougher consistency (al dente), and moreover you could feel the sea odor. They were not overcooked, and their natural sweetness was in nice contrast with bitterness of fresh wild asparagus. Amazing!
Price: 60 kn (8 eur)
Score 9.5/10

We asked the waiter if they still have the Adriatic squids (calamari) on the menu. They are of much better taste than the ones imported from Asia, cost twice as much, and are usually smuggled as genuine ones in many fish restaurant (tourist traps) in Croatia. To avoid getting framed look at their color and size. They should be brownish-red and, more importantly, big enough so that two or three grilled squids cover the plate (see the picture below).

Restaurant Stari Grad - Pula: grilled adriatic squids
Grilled Adriatic squids with steamed potatoes and chard

Be aware that the squid season lasts only from November to the end of January so it is hard to get them if you visit Istria during the peak season in summer. But it was only April, the freezers in “Stari Grad 02” were not yet empty, and soon on our table came plates of grilled and fried Adriatic squids served with steamed potatoes and chard, with finely chopped parsley on top. Excellent preparation, abundant portion, freshly cooked vegetables… These dishes was close to perfection in their simplicity.
Price: 90 kn (12 eur) Score 9/10 (both the fried and the grilled ones)

Restaurant Stari Grad - Pula: fried adriatic squids
…the same, but now with fried squids

The total cost was around 290 kn (39 eur) for two persons, wine and water included. They offered us two honey grappas that turned this dinner into even more memorable event. If you are visiting Pula and you are a seafood lover but do not want to spend a fortune, do not miss this simple and genuine restaurant. You will not regret it!

Overall 8.5/10

Stari grad 02
Pula, Sisplac 3
tel. +385 (0)52 386808

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