The Gastronomer's Guide
4 Things You Didn’t Know About Croatian Pizza
Ah, Croatian pizza. One of the world’s most revered dishes, like Portuguese Chicken or Greek Salad. Pizza is a food synonymous with Croatia, a place people visit from far and wide just to get an authentic slice. Oh, wait a second. Did we say Croatia? Okay, we admit: Croatian pizza doesn’t have the same pazzazz its neighbors across the Adriatic Sea, Italy, does. But this small country will surprise you in many ways, and one of those ways is the quality of its pizza. It doesn’t carry the weight of tradition like its Italian counterpart — and that can be a good thing. Croatian pizza is a little different, but once you try it, you’ll be telling your friends.
1. Sauce on the side
Tomato sauce goes hand in hand with pizza, lathered on the dough in the kitchen as one of the first ingredients used by any pizza chef. But that’s not so in Croatia, where they follow the unique tradition of taking their tomato sauce … on the side. Really? Yep. And it’s not considered taboo to ask your server for more sauce. In Italy, that could get you into trouble! We recently read a story from a Croatian blogger who, set in his ways, ordered pizza in Italy and asked for extra tomato sauce. Next thing he knew, the chef was standing in front of his table with a pot of sauce, yelling at him. Safe to say, this move is reserved for Croatia!
2. Croatia has its own pizza-making competition
That’s right — the Croatian pizza-making championships are a thing. Each year, the Croatian Culinary Federation and Croatian Pizza-Making Association (also a thing!) team up to hold this prestigious showdown. In March 2019, tasting judges crowned Mirko Perić, a pizzaiolo from the restaurant Basta in Zagreb, the winner. Perić served a specialty creation topped with asparagus, roasted pumpkin, deer and goat cheese aromatised with rosemary, mozzarella, and a Grana Padano cheese basket filled with dehydrated pumpkin. Woah — might be time to head to Basta!
3. The recipe
All good Croatian pizzas share a few things in common. First, they’re cooked in a wood-burning oven, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. The crust is typically thin and crispy, but the dough — always homemade — is thick and bread-like. A Croatian pizza is covered in many toppings, including fresh vegetables like baby spinach, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes, meats like thinly-sliced sausages and prosciutto, and herbs like sage and rosemary. Top that with feta, mozzarella, gouda — or all three! And of course, tomato sauce — on the side, and as much of it as you want! Want more? Just ask!
4. Where to get it
Pizza in Croatia is a bigger deal than you probably realized before reading this. But now that you know, here are a few recommendations. Tunga Re is a hidden gem in a narrow alley in Murter town, but it’s small menu has only the goods. Jupiter is a long-standing pizzeria in Pula famous to locals, and within walking distance of the Roman Amphitheater known as Arena. And if that’s not enough, then just ask a local. They’ll be happy to tell you how great their pizza is.