Putting the Palm in Palmizana: Gastronomy Meets Nature at Toto's

By paul 07 Jul 2014, 19:11 PM Island News

Dine in a waterfront arboretum, where every table is a private natural paradise. Toto's on Palmizana.

What are the origins of the name Palmizana, and could it be related to the humble palm tree?

Perhaps, perhaps not, but there is no doubting that the gorgeous collection of palm trees in and around the two Meneghello restaurants there contribute to an island which - dare I say it? - is even more beautiful than Hvar.

Palm trees are just one thing, and the amazing arboretum which has been painstakingly planted and looked after for decades, is just one more staggering natural addition to this amazing island. 

After a fabulous day on Jerolim, our host Mare took us over to Palmizana, as the girls wanted to say hello to both Teta Dagmar and her fabulous turtles. While we joined later for dinner, it was an opportunity to wander round Toto's, the waterfront restaurant owned by her son Djenko. 

It soon became clear that two of the main themes of Toto's - the fabulous variety of greenery and the excellent fresh sea food - were directly attributable to the owner himself. A member of the International Palm Tree Society and probably the only restaurant owner on Hvar to offer big game fishing which can then be prepared at the restaurant, one quickly gets the impression that this is a restaurant with a difference. 

One can hardly fault the dining location, with its waterfront access to the beach directly below. What makes it so special as a location, however, is the generosity of space and the integration of nature.

Toto's must be the largest restaurant in the bay, but it is the one with the least number of seats there. The result is the effect of total privacy surrounded by the arborial creations for many of the tables, many of which come with an intimate sea view. 

And I couldn't mention the restaurant without paying tribute to this excellent aperitif we were served - a generous gin and tonic with slices of cool cucumber and black peppercorns. A true revelation and one which we will be replicating on the terrace at the weekend.  

The girls meanwhile, went off to explore, and were delighted to find a tank of fresh live lobster and other play things. We didn't eat this time, as we had an appointment with Dagmar, but the food was excellent the last time I did. I was a guest of friends that day and so did not know the price, and that was the biggest surprise of all when I asked to see the menu.

I was expecting very high prices, which would have been justifiable by the location and nature alone, but found the opposite to be true. There is one bottle of wine which is sold in many restaurants on Hvar (I won't say which) which I use as a barometer for guaging restaurant prices. It was more than 30% cheaper at Toto's than in many restaurants in Hvar Town. 

Check out the beauty of Toto's and the arboretum in the video below.