Dining Review: Lari & Penati – Zagreb, Croatia
If narrowing down the spots to eat was hard in Istria, it was close to impossible in Zagreb. There are just so many amazing spots and we had one day and change for meals – that was it. I began to narrow the search down the healthier options in hopes that after a week of eating pasta and cheeses and meats we may want something lighter at the end of the trip. Lari & Penati came up on several different searches as a local spot serving up simple dish with gourmet execution.
It is a small spot so I made sure to email them for reservations. However, when we arrived, the server did not have a record of the reservation. Despite my email correspondence and confirmation, the reservation did not exist. While I guess I should be happy this rarely happens to us, I was really disappointed – I had an email confirmation clear as day!
They were luckily still able to seat us – I was happy we got there early – but it did seem to be at an inconvenience. Did not feel like we were off to a good start, but I was optimistic for the food.
The menu here has seasonal dishes as well as staples that locals have come to love. The concept is fresh and straightforward, even offering an entire salad section. Many of the main dishes sounded so appetizing! From pasta, to pulled pork to ribs and wings to a Reuben sandwich? This was solid comfort food done right with a lighter twist.
At first I was going to order the chicken wings (glazed in soy and orange with honey and ginger) but when I asked if it was spicy, the server statement that it was not really but it is marinated in chili oil – why was that not one of the ingredients? I am so glad I asked. I went with my back up of the pasta. Kevin was between the pulled pork and the ribs and ultimately coin tossed to the ribs.
I was pretty alcohol’ed out and took the evening of water only. Kevin first got a local beer and then a glass of wine – but there was no menu. So when Kevin asked for a wine and was met with no retort of what kind of wine they had, he suggest a Teran (since we had been having it all trip and it was a Croatian wine), the server bluntly replied “we do not have that”. Well, tell me what you do have?? (insert Seinfeld Kramer voice). Anyway, all this to say I think we were just taken aback – we had experienced such wonderful and hospitable server this entire trip and this was such a wet blanket. I guess it was clear that we are not in tourist country any more.
Goose Liver Pate
It was as tough choice between the three listed appetizers but i was in a pate mood. At first, I thought it was a hot dish in the manner in which it was presented but it was ice cold (as I expected a pate to be). It was so delicious and really hit the spot – so rich and creamy.
Fettuccine with Homemade Pesto Basilico
A very pretty sight – nothing like a big bowl of pasta. I enjoyed this dish – the pasta was fresh and cooked well and the pesto was bright and flavorful. The addition of the tomatoes was really nice as well. While I could have used some grated cheese, the dish really did not need it. This was a great portion size that left me comfortably full. Overall, happy with this dish!
BBQ Spare ribs, Potato Salad, Coleslaw
Ribs were excellent. Very tender (ate entirely with fork and knife) with decent char around the outside, seasoning was mild.
There were two dessert options – a strawberry crostata and a chocolate tart. While I would have typically ordered the chocolate tart, the server recommended the strawberry crostata and it sounded good to me. I did not know what a crostata was but figured it had to be pie like and luckily my instinct was close.
We really enjoyed the food here and could see why this spot has a solid following, especially with a changing menu to see what the tea’s new dishes. It was unfortunate that our staff interactions were indifferent, the service was good and I will not hold that against them – it was one server for the place and perhaps he was having a bad day, we all have those. I would say definitely check this spot out, what they are doing is fun, creative, and delicious.