Leaning by the walls of the 1700-year-old Diocletian's Palace, restaurant Mazzgoon’s food and interior reveal a story about the past and future to be enjoyed in the present. Their maxim is “field to table” so Mazzgoon is pretty unyielding when it comes to selecting the freshest ingredients nature can provide at any given moment. The most unyielding restaurant in Split takes its name after the mule. And when a mule sets its mind to something, there’s no chance to dissuade it. Domestic guests and tourist alike have recognised the restaurant’s original food so you’ll need to make a reservation during the season. Especially in the evening when the shade provided by the walls gives a much needed break from walking and sightseeing in the old city centre.
The first look at the menu will tell you how Mazzgoon treats guests and life. Serious cuisine with a relaxed twist to it on just two pages and a wine list you’ll go through in awe. Superb and quality labels not only from Croatia, but from around the world have been categorised in such a way that you’ll find it easy to navigate fresh and light, fruity and velvety or rich and creamy wines. Most of them are poured by the glass, which makes it easy to combine, taste and follow the food. You can take the house recommendation or choose a wine to your liking.
The menu lists both fish and meat delicacies and it will win your attention because it combines traditional and international cuisine. The skilful chefs will turn local ingredients stemming from nearby family farms, the sea or surrounding fields into masterpieces of modern cuisine. No muss, no fuss. The lamb smells like lamb, and the pink mullet and its irresistible freshness will overwhelm your senses. Smoked veal shoulder is the house specialty as is salt-baked fish. You should also try handmade pasta which is then sliced into broad noodles or shaped into rectangular chunks. Then it’s wrapped around a needle or a stick and that’s how Dalmatian makaruni (traditional pasta) are made. Chefs pay attention to the ingredients and the area they come from, but everything has a house twist to it.
So in Mazzgoon you can get a deconstruction of the famous Hvar gregada. According the ancient recipe of Hvar fishermen, the fish is simmered in sea, olive grove and vineyard nectars. But in this oasis underneath Diocletian's Palace, the fish is first grilled and then placed in this aromatic sauce. As you leave Mazzgoon, you’ll take the aromas of smoke, salt, wild or home-grown aromatic herbs with you. But these aromas are the very reason you’ll come back and try new seasonal dishes.
Author of photography: Ivo Čagalj/PIXSELL