In a nutshell, Pantarul (meaning ‘fork’ in the Dubrovnik dialect) is a restaurant in Dubrovnik that Milan (my husband), Đuro (our business partner) and I opened in spring 2014. We serve seasonal dishes made from locally sourced ingredients (this sounds advertisment-y, but it’s the truth) and – most importantly – love what we do. We also want everyone else to love the place as just as much so everything is governed by the motto ‘Feels like home’.
Why did you open a restaurant? That’s a question we get very often. The thing is, before moving back to Dubrovnik I had lived in Zagreb for ten years. My husband Milan (the one to the far right in the photo) was in Dubrovnik so from the moment we met until 2014 we were in a long-distance relationship. Not exactly my idea of an ideal situation.
Given that he had worked as a waiter for years and had ample experience in the restaurant business + that I am absolutely crazy about food, it made sense for us to open something together. That’s how the idea was born. Đuro (the one to the far left) joined in so that all of our lives could be a bit easier (anyone working in the hospitality industry knows how difficult this line of work can be) and restaurant Pantarul opened its door in May 2014.
Now for those of you who are not that familiar with Dubrovnik, there’s one thing I profoundly dislike about it and it’s what I like to call the Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde syndrome. What I mean by this is that summertime Dubrovnik bears almost no resemblance to Dubrovnik in winter. Whereas in the summer everything is vibrant and buzzing with tourists, during the colder months Dubrovnik reminds me of a city of ghosts. Almost all the souvenir shops and restaurants are closed and there’s not much you can do. One word says it all: boring.
Step in Pantarul. We try hard (and I mean very hard) to cater for the locals and create a community of like-minded food-lovers. And we’re open all year long (except for four weeks in January when the whole team is on vacation – yay!). This means our prices are adapted for Croatian family budgets and we serve only the best food we can produce. No tourist trap stories here – we love our regulars.
Do you cook there? That’s another one I get asked almost on a daily basis. The answer is: no. Even though I am crazy about food, home cooking and restaurant cooking are worlds apart [have you ever tried feeding forty hungry and demanding people at the same time?]. We have an amazing young chef, Damir Šarić (the second one from the left in the photo) as well as a great team of cooks and we leave the magic to them. So far it has proved to be a wise tactics.