One of the most important, fun and (believe it or not) challenging parts of our job is constantly staying up to date on old favorites and new discoveries in the Mediterranean travel world. As the year starts winding to a close, we like to go through some of our favorite trips for business or pleasure, and put together some favorites for our past, potential and future clients. Part of what makes Bella Vita Travels so special is that we hand-pick our properties, tours and guides. The excursions we suggest to you are ones that we have done ourselves, and the hotels are ones that we know personally. Travel continually changes, as do destinations, and it’s one of the most interesting parts of our job to research how to make your dream Mediterranean vacation absolutely perfect.
Here are our choices for best restaurant of 2019!
Megan: Restaurant 360, Dubrovnik, Croatia
While on a research trip in Croatia this past April, I was fortunate to get a last minute reservation at the only Michelin star restaurant in town, Restaurant 360. It has an absolutely spectacular setting along the ramparts of a one of the towers overlooking the harbor.
The menu, service and style was excellent. They had 2 different tasting menus and wine flights to go with them, but being on my own (and no one to share this fantastic event with!), I just had an appetizer: scampi with a scampi cappuccino foam – YUM), a main course: turbot with cauliflower pure and baked clams (DOUBLE YUM) and dessert: a crazy chocolate thing that was very good but more than I needed! But there was also an amuse bouche that was to die for, home baked breads served with truffle and olive butter PLUS pre-dessert plate and after dessert cookies!
I had a lovely glass of rose and then tried their very good Croatian port. Their sommelier is half-Croatian / half- Italian and is super passionate about his wines. I actually felt guilty about not ordering more!
Considering the Michelin star and setting and caliber of food, I expected to pay much more, but the whole bill and service came in around $110 which I found reasonable. I just loved this place and hope to return soon with my husband to enjoy the full tasting menu experience!
Luigi: Lo Scudiero, Palermo, Sicily
One of my favorite restaurants is Lo Scudiero in the center of the more modern side of Palermo. I have eaten here two times in my life, and both were delicious. It’s not just the delicious food that keeps me coming here, but it’s the special experience of this historical restaurant in the city. It has been owned by the same family for three generations, they are very attentive, hands-on and are dedicated to the quality of the raw materials. There are only a few tables and so it’s never noisy. In general, the food in Sicily is one of the best, but in this restaurant it is taken to whole other level.
Kate: Pintxos in San Sebastian, Spain
OK, so this probably doesn’t can’t be considered a proper meal, but it was definitely my favorite dining experience of 2019!
San Sebastian, Spain, is world-renowned for its food culture. In fact, San Sebastian is the city with more Michelin stars for square meter in the world. Therefore, food is a high priority for the locals and the high standards guarantee that anything you eat, from a little sandwich in a bar to an elaborate tasting menu at a 3* Michelin restaurant, will be mind-blowingly delicious.
I (and my wallet) opted for the bar food (Pintxos – pronounces peen-choes – which is the Basque word for tapas) most nights and I was never disappointed. The possibility to bar hop and pick from an assortment of tiny dishes, from humble potato tortillas espanoles (Bar Ciaboga) to rice and truffle rice (Sirimiri) to small slabs of elegantly plated fois gras or suckling pig (La Cuchara de San Telmo) is not only fun (and relatively economical) but also delicious way to spend an evening. It was fun to see the differences in both the food offered and the types of people that went to the different places. It was a unique experience and something I would highly recommend for the first evening meal in order to get a real feel for San Sebastian life.
Christine: Garance, Paris, France
Paris certainly doesn’t lack dining options, from charming bistro to formal places with more Michelin stars than the night sky. Garance, a Michelin-starred bistro near the Esplanade des Invalides, is a nice way to experience French fine dining in a modern setting. The four course “surprise” tasting menu is a relative bargain (considering other restaurants of this caliber) at 75 euro a person, and it’s a nice way to experience the creativity of the chefs (formerly of another Michelin-starred restaurant, l’Arpège). The lunch menu is another wonderful suggestion, with a 34 euro multi-course menu. Unlike many other “fancy” places, the dishes are quite abundant here – you definitely won’t leave hungry! The sommelier has chosen some unique wines, many available by the glass for pairing, and others with a range of prices for all budgets. The service is relaxed but not too casual, and professional without seeming stuffy. It was a great experience for a lovely evening with a good friend!
Lisa: Trattoria da Romano, Venice, Italy
Trattoria da Romano serves poetry on a plate! Da Romano is a very traditional local restaurant and it makes you feel like you’re stepping back in time. If I could, I would order their Risotto di Go’ as an appetizer, first course, second, course and dessert! They are famous for this dish for a reason and it’s worth the long boat ride to get there, as this type of risotto can only be found on Burano. Go’ is the Venetian name for Ghiozzo, or goby in English. It’s an extremely ugly fish so it’s usually never served whole, but makes the most delicious stock, which is the base for this risotto. Of course, they’re also famous for their tiramisu but like I said, I would rather have more Go’ for dessert!