Marenda is how coastal Croatians (Istrians, Kvarnerians and Dalmatians) call brunch. The philosophy of marenda is getting a hearty and quick meal between 11 AM and noon for fair price, usually less than 5 euros. This post is the first in a row that will try to find out are there decent marenda places in Pula center that has reputation of being the black hole of South Istrian gastronomy.
The decadent beauty of Pula center
In the eighties Pula center got its first leisure pier that was built as a part of ACI marina, right in the middle of Pula’s riva (seafront). Due to its shape reminding of wedding cake, since ever the place is known under the name Torta. After almost twenty years of decline this neglected property shows first signs of recovery – few months ago bistro Torta opened up on the pier.
Bistro Torta is an elegant, not too posh place with nautical decor boasting warm wooden floors and walls with navy blue elements. The service is impeccable and waiters have a touch of old-school class. It is a perfect place to enjoy a drink in the summer and relax on the terrace that offers arguably the best view on Pula amphitheater.
The marenda offer changes daily and each dish costs about 35 kn. That day I was delighted to order roast-beef with grilled vegetables. First disappointment came when the waiter told me there’s no more veggies but only fries. Needless to say, they serve industrial, frozen fries. It would be wise to serve healthy, traditional side dishes not too abundant in calories (fries have more than 500 kcal!), like steamed potatoes, swiss chard or sauteed savoy cabage but no. That would be too much work in the kitchen.
Then, the roast-beef! I expected tender, pink and juicy slices and got dry, overdone meat heavily soaked in brown sauce whose tartness covered the last bits of meat flavor. The overall taste was not that bad and the portions are (too) large, but the dish reminds too much of the bland stuff you get in mass-tourism hotels and student cafeterias.
It was carnival season when eating something fried and sweet doesn’t need any justification so I was happy like a kid when we were surprised with freshly fried fritule and kroštule that we got free of charge with Illy coffee. This small thing put smile back on my faces and told me I should return again to Torta. Maybe even to check out their evening offer that, I heard, is worth checking out.
Warning! Due to large-scale construction works on the new sewage water system that will finally end up the practice of disposing highly polluted and stinky waters right beneath the nose of the citizens of Pula, the access to Torta might require some hiking equipment.