Tavern “Veli Jože” is located in the centre of beautiful Rovinj, which is a hub of Croatian tourism. The interior is full of wooden colour tones and countless details on the walls, it’s packed with everything reminiscent of the sea, the street section has another dimension to it and you’re just a part of life in this mesmerising city. Out of the six tables lined right next to the tavern, one of them is blessed with a perfect view of the sea and nearby islands.
The ambiance is recognisable and almost indescribable much to the delight of tourists - if you’ve ever read the books of Jules Verne or watched “Lovejoy”, than walking into “Veli Jože” will make you feel as if you’ve set foot in a wonderful time machine.
The tavern has been open since 1994 and fish is more represented than meat. Given that kids love ćevapi and skewers, they’ll be happy, too. The tavern owes its name to the fact that the surrounding restaurants bear foreign names, so the owner opted for something originally Croatian. Homemade, simple food, they’re not into complicated sauces, but rather they insist on classic recipes and local ingredients, which is no mean feat today. The menu is fixed, but they keep up with nature and always use ingredients available in the market. There’s mostly one specialty of the day.
As the name says it, “Veli Jože” is a tavern and the menu reflects that. It’s only logical to start off with local specialties - Istrian prosciutto, sheep cheese, cheese with truffles, marinated sardines, oysters... When it comes to soups, you have the classic beef and fish soup. But Istrian maneštra is worth singling out. The piquant, thick soup/stew, with crunchy corn and beans, is full of delicious chopped meat and sausages with an elegantly piquant note. An excellent selection of local food, hats off.
The largest part of warm appetizers is based on noodles, which are available with truffles, crab or lobster. When it comes to risottos, the situation is pretty much the same. There are several kinds of spaghetti. If you’re into meat, you always have goulash, which is available with handmade gnocchi and fuži. Given that the sea is literally ten metres away, be sure to try some of the wide shellfish selection at “Veli Jože”. Mussels, srčanka (warty venus), scallops, Noah’s Ark shell, depending on the season and the local fisherman’s catch, will kick off or lunch perfectly or they could be a lunch in its own right. The restaurant’s biggest source of pride is oven-baked fish with vegetables (for several people) and you have the rare local Kvarner shrimp. The tavern owner swears they stem from the region.
Veli Joše has a wide selection of fresh fish, molluscs and crustaceans (shrimp, homarus, lobster). From gilthead sea bream, dentex to sea bass, flatfish, scorpion fish and whatever comes to the market that morning - you’ll find it all in the tavern’s menu. You also have a wide range of meat dishes so lovers of roasted lamb, veal shank or several kinds of beefsteak won’t feel left out. Merlot Šuran is the red house wine. It’s thick, fruity, sweet and has an incredible fig aroma, which makes it ideal for stronger fish, red meat and even desserts.
The amiable waiter pointed out they’re fresh and local, so we opted for the classic choice considering we’re in a tavern - grilled squid with chard. There’s no point in taking risks when you know the winning combination on the Adriatic. We had Arman, the house Malvasia, with the squid. As far as the wines go, there are about 15 white, ten red one, as well as a small yet reliable list of dessert and sparkling wines. Local origin is king, so almost all labels stem from Istria with a focus on Malvasia, Chardonnay, Terrano, and Merlot. When it comes to labels, we need to point out Kozlović, Kabola, Coronica and Benvenuti. When it comes to desserts, the apple pie is to die for, soft and juicy, with lots of walnuts and a vanilla ice cream ball and whipped cream. You also have the classic crepes.
Contact number: 052/816-337; 098/366-785
Working hours: MON - SAT: 11:00 - 01:00
SUN: 11:00 - 00:00
Address: Svetoga Križa 1 52210 Rovinj
Price range: 100-200kn