IPA Magazine-Luxury Travel Reviews

Villa Ruža, Old City Bistro, Dubrovnik

For ten years the Villa Ruža restaurant was doing a booming business on the island of Koločep in Croatia.  Then the lease period was completed and the owner, Ruder, moved his business to the tourist capital Dubrovnik, the popularity of which has been increased even more so by the television hit Game of Thrones.  And whereas once Villa Ruža (ruža means “rose”) had 90 tables on the island of Koločep (which the locals call Kalamota), where wealthy yachtsmen could linger for hours over many courses, now the restaurant—its first year in the new location—is situated behind the cathedral with only 45 tables.  Nevertheless, the indefatigable owner has tripled his number of restaurants in the Dalmatian municipality and now owns Paparazzo located on the ground floor of Villa Ruža, and Pink Shrimp, a popular stop for locals also situated in the old city. It appears his work ethic, persistence, attention to detail, and excellent customer service are paying dividends.

We visited Villa Ruža to try their Lunch Set Menu from which diners may choose 2 courses—no dessert, (€21.90) or three courses—with dessert, (€25.90).

For the first course, four appetizers are offered.  First, there is homemade Cold Yoghurt Soup, served with pepper, mint and wild dill.  Next is Shrimp Tempura & Creamy Soya sauce, served with zucchini julienne.  My wife ordered the Smoked Swordfish & Zucchini Carpaccio.  The thinly sliced swordfish was served with crushed pepper, marinated zucchini, arugula and honey & citrus emulsion.  I ordered the Caprese Buffalo & Dalmatian Prosciutto.  I was surprised to see the prosciutto wrapped around soft white cheese and served on a bed of baby lettuce, with fresh basil pesto, some incredibly delicious roasted cherry tomatoes and large portions of buffalo mozzarella.  We both agreed I made a great choice for an appetizer.  Over the course of more than a week in Croatia and three weeks in the Balkans I had many opportunities to sample various kinds of prosciutto.  This presentation was unique and the combination of ingredients was delicious.

We each ordered a glass of the Malvazija house wine, Matošević, from Istria in Croatia.  One can never go wrong ordering Malvazija wine, it seems, when in Croatia.  It seems to be reliably consistent and best when served chilled—the colder the better.

For the Lunch Set Menu there are four main dishes from which to choose.  First there is Tuna, Tagliata & Soya, with Balsamic Vinegar.  The dish comes with arugula and potatoes.  Next there is Chicken Filet with Arugula & Mashed Potatoes.  My wife chose Orecchiette, Ox Shank Ragout & Smoked Ricotta served with mint and crushed pepper.  This cooked dish of tender small cubes of meat was in a delicate sauce served with pasta.  The flavor was distinctive and made for a hearty meal.  I ordered Risotto Mantecato with Shrimp and Zucchini. The risotto was made of Carneroli rice with Grand Padano and reduced balsamic vinegar.  Four large, peeled shrimp were mixed with the risotto.  These shrimp were the largest I had during my three weeks in the Balkans.  Our head waiter, Jošip, explained that the larger shrimp were used in this particular dish and that smaller shrimp are used in other dishes. Their third restaurant (after the second, Paparazzo, just downstairs) called Pink Shrimp, specializes in all sorts of shrimp dishes and should be tried, he said, if someone really wants to eat the best shrimp in Dubrovnik.

At the suggestion of our waiter, our second glass of wine was Posh, a Pošip wine made by the Vinaria or vineyards of Saints Hills of Dubrovnik County in Croatia.  This wine is the most popular wine of the restaurant, ordered most frequently by patrons. Several Saints Hills wines are featured by Villa Ruža.  First there is a blend of Nevina, Malvazija & Chardonnay; next is a Rose wine, Dingac; third “Sv. Roko,” from the Plavac Mali grape, the most ancient ancestor to what became the primitivo wine of Italy and the popular Zinfandel wine of the US.  Finally there is another red wine, “Dingac” from the Peljesac region, one of the best known wine regions of Croatia.  In all, the restaurant features over 30 kinds of wine on its wine list, with a few selections from France, Italy, Spain and Argentina.

For dessert we were served a combination of 3 dessert items on one tray.  First was Pag Island Cheese, served with figs in muscat and a pepper cookie.  Next were two scoops of vanilla ice cream covered in caramel sauce. And the final selection was the wonderful chocolate and carob torte, a rich combination that makes for an excellent finish to any meal.  For dinner Villa Ruža offers the traditional favorite, Dubrovacka Rozata, a popular custard selection.

We looked at the dinner menu and found all of the lunch items, above, offered for dinner as well.  The dinner menu has several fish options, such as scampi, clams, sea bass in a salt crust, and daily fresh selections.  If the restaurant is unable to secure fresh fish according to its high standards, it will not offer anything less.

Villa Ruža is not difficult to find.  It is located around the corner from the cathedral in Dubrovnik’s Old City.  We’d heartily recommend lunch on the elevated outdoor terrace shaded by natural bamboo covering.  You can watch the tourists walking below in a quiet part of the city, away from the hustle and bustle of the sidewalk cafes and see why the wealthy yachtsmen of Koločep Island are today lamenting they lost one of their favorite restaurants.

Villa Ruža Old City Bistro
Petra Kresimira IV 16
20000 Dubrovnik
Website: http://www.villa-ruza.com
Email: info@villa-ruza.com
Tel: +385 (0)98 44 33 82

 

 

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