Piccolo’s, Smokvica Vela, Croatia

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Boats cruising the Dalmatian coast are sometimes provided with a copy of “A Gourmet Cruise: the Adriatic Good Food Pilot”. Now, don’t get your hopes up, it mostly stretches to how soon after the fish has been caught it lands on your plate, or how you can watch the fish being prepared on the restaurant’s jetty. All good stuff, but there’s nothing to threaten the Michelin Guide here yet.

The Kornati Islands are a major national park, with little (nothing) in the way of year-round habitation, but there are a number of restaurants particularly in the bays where the Park allow overnight mooring – it’s all very strictly controlled and expensive. Incidentally, we tried to buy half-price entry tickets in advance for sailing in the National Park, but you have to live in deepest Croatia to buy them. The tourist alternative is to turn up at the office as you enter the park, but then – da da! – you’re in the park already so it’s full price. Except that it isn’t. The NP guys pulled alongside as we were moored and quoted the published rate – 500 kuna a night (£50 – whew!). Almost immediately we were offered a “special price only 250 kuna”. Well, we got an official ticket so that’s alright then – no questions asked.

So, in Smokvica Vela are two restaurants. Piccolo and Mare. Piccolo is the one in the guide, and enjoys a very sunny position amongst the little grouping of single storey holiday houses. Mare sits on its own, in the shade. Get the picture. The evening we were there all Piccolo’s five moorings were full, five boats were ranged along their jetty and others crammed in along the waterside. Others anchored in the bay and came in by dinghy. Mare – just two boats, and one went in by accident. It takes quite some skill and logistics to run a successful restaurant on an island with no other facilities. You can’t just set up in one of the precious designated anchorages and hope it will all work out in the end. The secret is good cooking and then the reputation spreads. So, Piccolo’s thriving and Mare?  Well, Mare were supposed to have five moorings too but we guess the maintenance wasn’t worth it if there are no customers.

Piccolo’s then. Great atmosphere with maybe a hundred covers. The menu? Actually much the same as elsewhere with a couple of specials. The value?  Well the “first class fish” was 680 kuna (£68 for 1.4 kilos or 400 kuna/kilo) and, although good, not in the same league as the ” two times fish” for 290 kuna in Stupica Vela. So the Kornati “rip-off” effect might exist, although we found that 400 kuna (£40) per kilo seems to be the norm in most places – just make sure you don’t choose large fish! Stupica Vela was more unique and great bargain.

No website but you can phone…
Phone:+385 98 185 8080

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The moorings...

The moorings…


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