Friday, Apr 12th

The Natural Flavors of Croatia at Dubrovnik Restaurant

dubrovnikfishI'm sure that many of my readers, like myself, have never visited Croatia. However, we are very fortunate to have Croatia come to us by way of Dubrovnik, the excellent Croatian restaurant in New Rochelle. Dubrovnik is celebrating its fourth anniversary and a recent visit proved that a dining experience here continues to delight us.

Dubrovnik's owner Zeljko " Jerry" Tomic, arrived here from Croatia in 1988. He always dreamed of honoring his mother, who owned a small restaurant in Croatia. He learned his culinary skills from her. "We are passionate to share our wonderful culture of dining with our guests. We believe in what we do." Tomic was a boat builder in Croatia and learned the art of cabinetry. Upon his arrival here, he opened Top Drawer Custom Cabinetry. His artistry les to his designing Dubrovnik Restaurant, next door. The dining room has stunning hand carved mahogany archways and columns and a partition to the bar area. The feeling of the sea is expressed by a ship's wheel and photographs of life in Croatia. Toward the back of the 50 seat dining room, your breath is taken away when you arrive on the enclosed all year round patio with its centerpiece of a hand crafted grill, on which Croatian specialties are cooked. dubrovnikgardenWith a breeze blowing on a late summer afternoon, I was overwhelmed by the abundant garden below where organically grown vegetables grow and become part of your meal. You can't get any fresher than that. There is a wine cellar downstairs, but we savored our meals in the main dining room with its nautical feeling, where I admired the burled wood pedestal tables and other wood working wonders.

Most recently, I had the pleasure of meeting with the multi talented Nada Bernic, Dubrovnik's manager. She is indispensable at the restaurant and attends to every detail at Dubrovnik. She is master of the art of hospitality, a graduate of Cornell University School of Hotel Management and she owned The Terrace Restaurant in the Sky in Manhattan Her many talents include training the staff, ordering food, and even arranging the artistic floral displays at the restaurant. " My goal is to make our guests happy. Dubrovnik Restaurant is truly authentic, serving the freshest seafood, produce and other foods. Croatian food is puristic with natural flavors. It is generally simply enhanced with salt and pepper, award winning Croatian olive oil, prepared in small batches and rosemary, a popular herb here. Each day we present fishes of the day which may dubrovnikgrillinclude branzino, red snapper, yellow snapper and Mediterranean black sea bass. Among our organic garden pickings are arugula, zucchini, lettuce, tomatoes, parsley , rosemary and basil. We often have special events to keep our restaurant vibrant. Our guests have enjoyed Mediterranean Cruise Night, Sushi Night, and a raw bar evening. We will soon be celebrating our fourth year anniversary with a special event, as well, featuring a Croatian acapella group. Our goals for the future are to continue to have a full house and offer private catering."

The kitchen is in the capable hands of Executive Chef Antonio Selendic. He received his culinary education in his native Croatia and honed his skill at many fine restaurants. He was exposed to fine home cooking by his mother, as well. " Our food is not complicated. I focus on the main ingredients and use only the best quality of these ingredients. We do not want to destroy the natural flavor of our foods. I love preparing traditional dishes "under the bell", and our very fresh fish and seafood preparations." We often hear the expression farm to table at restaurants. At Dubrovnik, the exceptional Chef Selendic enjoys the pleasure of ' garden to table ' cooking where he excels in the joyous preparation of traditional Croatian dishes using the freshest of ingredients.dubrovnikchops

Fresh yellow roses brightened our table. Housemade, grilled warm bread and Croatian olive oil greeted us. The fragrant oil deserved the homemade bread that accompanied it. Fresh as could be, marinated branzino and scallops, thinly sliced, with leaves of mesclun, could not have been fresher. The just caught flavor was enhanced with fresh lemon juice, lemon zest and Croatian olive oil. An octopus salad followed. The tender segments of steamed octopus were paired with red onion, sliced, creamy textured potatoes, arugula, and sliced grape tomatoes revealing their full garden fresh flavors were dressed with a Croatian olive oil and vinegar dressing. A sprinkling of fresh parsley completed this perfect starter. Next, grilled jumbo shrimp sat atop an eggplant puree. Grilled zucchini, yellow squash and asparagus partnered with these simply prepared shrimp. A balsamic glaze completed this colorful light and delicious appetizer. The Dalmatian platter of cheese, smoked beef, Croatian pickles and marinated anchovies are other possibilities. Several house made soups are offered. We loved the Fisherman's Soup . Here, a light fish broth is combined with assorted fish and shrimp, as well as white rice. With fall in the air, this herb infused bowlful is a fine choice. On the lighter side beet salad, wild green salad and artichoke and arugula salad are offered.

duubrovnikshrimpIt was time to focus on the entrées. If you call in advance you can indulge in lamb, goat or pig roasted " under the bell", from Dubrovnik's special grill, where the meat is covered with a steel dome and slowly cooks from above and beneath for a delicate moist result. We enjoyed the squid ink risotto. Here, cubes of cuttlefish mingled with the risotto. The "magic potion", Croatian olive oil was drizzled on top for a fine finishing touch. We really loved our grilled lamb chops simply seasoned with rosemary and garlic and served with potato croquettes, carrots and broccoli. The juice of the chops combined with the herbs for utter perfection. Orata arrived next, the whole fish in all its glory was grilled and simply seasoned to enhance, rather than overpower its fresh flavor. Several chicken dishes, steaks and pan seared pork chops are available, as well. Each evening, an ice lined platter is brought tableside for your inspection of the whole fish available. Tuna and salmon appear on the menu in pleasant preparations. For the pasta lover, homemade gnocchi and fettuccine are available.

If you need a sweet something to complete your meal try the classic crepe palacinke filled with jam or cheese or rozata, a cream filled napoleon like dessert. For me fresh fruit seems the perfect ending .

Daily specials, such as skate in lemon caper sauce, seared scallops with homemade fettuccine change daily.

Enjoy the convenience of evening valet parking and expand your international culinary experience with a taste of the Croatian cuisine at the exceptional Dubrovnik Restaurant.

Dubrovnik Restaurantdubrovnikdiningroom

721 Main Street
New Rochelle
914 637 3777

Recipe: Brodeto with Polenta (Serves 4-6)

3 to 4 pounds fresh cleaned fish { monkfish, skate, scampi shrimp}, cut into serving pieces
¼ cup olive oil
2 small onions, thinly sliced
4 medium sized fresh tomatoes, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup white wine
2 tsps. chopped parsley
2 tsps. chopped celery leaves
1 pinch chopped fresh rosemary
Juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 bay leaf

In a glass bowl, sprinkle fish with salt, pepper and lemon juice and let it stand for 5 minutes. Saute onions in oil until golden. Add garlic and saute. Add tomatoes, parsley, celery and rosemary and mix. Add fish, and saute for a few more minutes without mixing. Just shake the pot, so fish does not fall apart. Add wine, vinegar, salt and pepper and about ¼ cup water or just enough to cover the fish. Simmer slowly for about 20 minutes . Do not mix or shake the pot. Remove the bay leaf and serve over polenta.
Serve in bowls over your favorite recipe for polenta. And top with additional parsley and olive oil.


2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 tsp. salt
1 cup soft feta cheese
4 tsps. butter, melted with a pinch of rosemary
1 ½ quarts water
1 tsp. olive oil
Additional parsley and olive oil for garnish

Bring water to a boil with salt. Reduce heat and slowly add cornmeal while stirring constantly to avoid lumps. It needs to be smooth. Cook for 10 minutes stirring constantly. Mix in the oil and place in a serving dish. Pour butter and cheese over the polenta with a pinch of rosemary Divide among bowls and top with fish mixture. Sprinkle with additional parsley and oil and serve.

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