Monday, 5 October 2020

O'Hara's New Menu: A Pizzeria Without Capricciosa

October 5, 2020 - The competition on the pizza market is growing, and they have decided to take a classic off the menu. Boldness or experience? TCN meets O'Hara's new menu.

Malesnica, on the west side of Zagreb, hides a not so big restaurant, but it does have a pretty big name here in Croatia. Namely, O'Hara serves only the best food prepared by their expert chef's hands. Domagoj Kralj, the current restaurant manager, told us that they have a lot of food from Italy.

“We pay a lot of attention to quality; that’s why we have even San Marzano tomatoes from a subvolcanic area. It is sweet as it should be, without the acids of pasteurized concentrates,” said Domagoj, who spent a couple of months working on the new menu, along with his colleague Martin Karabajic.

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O'Hara

But, as Domagoj stated, everything paid off; now, they have a new menu with more than the usual combination of food, and it will overshadow the existing menu. For example, a pizza named Imperatore gives quite the rhapsody of taste: truffle cream, fior/mozzarella, buffalo mozzarella, beef carpaccio, mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, shi-take, chanterelles, sheep cheese, basil, and olive oil.

“It was a pretty big deal to design 18 new pizzas; when you get the idea of a new pizza, you have to make it several times to get the right ration,” said Domagoj, who worked in many different places and learned from the ideas and knowledge of various chefs.

The goal of their pizza is to be entirely soft. “The enzyme alpha-amylase processes it, so the dough becomes sweeter, the palate and the tongue stick together, and there is nothing sharp,” said Domagoj.

O'Hara

But another important thing is not to feel heaviness in the stomach after eating the pizza - that's why the dough ages for a very long time, even up to 72 hours. The O'Hara team provides a lot of attention to the dough-making technology. In addition to the fact that they make the dough from just four ingredients, one of the secrets they have revealed to TCN is that there is little room for the yeast.

“You know those small black marks on the edges of pizza? Those are leftover flour crumbs. We have a fantastic pizzaiolo, Ivana Petrovic, who makes pizza without these dots. This is very difficult to achieve, but there should be no flour left on the pizza's edges,” said Domagoj, who also explained that the Maillard reaction is more than needed on pizza.

O'Hara has been the state champion for the past few years, and they also went to the world championships. As Domagoj said, it is branded pizza; everything is rigorous. There is no room for mistakes. “People were thinking we’d gone crazy when we introduced Napolitana to Croatia, it is the most difficult pizza to make and is known as the 'queen of pizzas'. It boasts highly hydrated dough, the dough's temperature in the preparation, the oven temperature, should be 460 degrees, the temperature of fireclay, conduction, convection, and of course, the hands of the professional.”

Now, many pizzerias have Napolitana on offer, so the competition is showing. And yet, the classic pizza, the Capricciosa, didn't make it to the new O'Hara menu. “People like to try something new, and we have always enjoyed impressing people. But there is no compromise here: no lower class food or bad ingredients – we built our reputation precisely on our quality, and we will continue this way,” said Domagoj, who noted that the dough is the base for everything.

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O'Hara

The flour they use is top class, and some ingredients are taken from Croatian family farms. They are currently also collaborating with Food Innovation. Proof that the O'Hara team pays attention to detail is the fact that they don't use stick mixers for tomatoes. When it comes to San Marzano, the chef crushes it with his own hands and spreads it on the pizza - this way, every part of the tomato is used.

With the change of ownership, they changed the dough a bit, too. The current team worked at O’Hara in its golden age. They separated briefly, and now the whole team is together again, led by the new owner Zorana Savic. The O'Hara cooking team is made up of the above-mentioned pizzaiolo Ivana Petrovic, Ivan Kavelj, the winner of many competitions and the Croatian Cup, and Aleksandar Maricic, an expert in pasta. As a chef himself, Domagoj will occasionally hold a daily special.

The new menu will have salads and desserts, but again, not ordinary ones. For example, a salad named Chiaroscuro hides in it arugula, smoked salmon, toasted walnuts, fresh dill, honey mustard dressing, Creme Fraiche, radish, and champignons. For those who prefer something sweet but yet bitter, the dessert is a must: vanilla cream, bread with special dough, toasted walnuts, pear, and one cube of dark chocolate. The cream, which will be baked in the oven, will swell and be fluffy because of the eggs, the dark chocolate's bitterness will hold the balance, and crunchy walnuts and the refreshing pear will give the final touch.

“Every new dish we design is done with lots of knowledge, but also love. Our idea is to achieve umami and show this passion to our customers,” said Domagoj.

Malesnica is often used as a synonym for a remote part of town, but O'Hara is a pretty big reason to visit Zagreb's west side. As Domagoj told us, they don't feel the cons of not being in the center of the city. O'Hara has its parking lot, a quiet neighborhood, and above all, carefully selected ingredients, processed by the chef’s hands only.

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O'Hara

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Thursday, 1 October 2020

19 Incredible Dishes: The Best Vegetarian Food In Croatia

October 1, 2020 - Happy International Vegetarian Day! To celebrate, we bring you a list of 19 meat-free snacks and meals that make up the best vegetarian food in Croatia


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Starting a feature of the best vegetarian food in Croatia with a picture that has what looks suspiciously like meat in it comes at the top of a long list of dumb moves made by this writer - vegetarians, please forgive me. It was an impossible picture to find and this Youtube screenshot of a non-vegetarian option was the only one available on open license

Krpice sa zeljem

A lowly peasant dish made from cabbage and pasta, krpice sa zeljem neither sounds too appetising on paper nor looks inviting in its rather bland appearance. But, when you've no money left and need to fill your stomach, this is a great option. It's seasoned simply with salt, pepper and oil. Although most Croatians wouldn't do it, it's nice with butter or a butter and oil mix instead. Always use white pepper, not black, to accompany the salt in this. Some people make it with bits of pork too, like the one we have unfortunately pictured.

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Youtube screenshot © Andreina kuhinja

Granatir / Pašta s krumpirom

Also known as grenadir marš (grenadier march) or pašta s krumpirom (pasta with potatoes), this is a simple dish from Slavonia and is popular in other parts of northern continental Croatia. Onions and potatoes are the exciting ingredients, but the flavour comes from the ground paprika powder so prevalent in Slavonian food. Further away from Slavonia, you might find spring onions added and it seasoned instead with white pepper. You can really imagine the Austro-Hungarian troops of old marching on full stomachs of this cheap dish. Vegetarians fond of this meal might try exchanging the spring onions for leek (poriluk), for a change.

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Vanjkuši are probably the most obscure of all vegetarian food in Croatia so, again, we couldn't find a picture. Their name can be translated as pillows © Jay Mantri

Vanjkuši

Some in Croatia might not have heard of vanjkuši (also known as vankuši or jastuci). They are a distinct speciality of the old region of Moslavina, located to the east of Zagreb. Vanjkuši are not wildly exciting in colour, but these baked pastry rolls filled with egg, cornmeal and cottage cheese are a tasty snack or extravagant side dish, seasoned with salt, white pepper and sometimes butter and/or cream.

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© Nenad Damjanović / Croatian National Tourist Board

Pera

This little-known snack from Vrbovec is a much more authentically-Croatian take on pizza. The thin crust is topped with fresh cow’s cheese, sour cream and egg (sometimes cornmeal too), cooked in a traditional wood-fired oven and then cut into triangles for sharing.

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© Rainbow Pizza

Pizza

Yes, it's Italian. But most of the food on the Croatian menu either comes directly from other nations - Turkey, Bosnia, Hungary, Austria, Greece - or is inspired by them. Pizza is included because it's on sale everywhere in Croatia and almost everyone eats it. Like that other Italian favourite, ice cream/gelato, Croatians are brilliant at making pizza. It is possible to buy inferior pizza in Croatia, but you're not wise to do so - just look a bit harder. There is a great pizza available almost every place you go in Croatia.

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© Bonč

Štrukli

Sometimes štrukli is claimed by Zagreb. But, it's suspiciously close to dishes prepared in both Slovenia and Austria. We prefer to allocate this boiled or baked pie-type dish to Zagorje, the agricultural region over the mountain, north of Zagreb. The land, agriculture, food and recipes of Zagorje inform the capital's cuisine more than anywhere else. Štrukli comes with all manner of fillings, although the most popular (and the best we've tried) comes filled with cheese.

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© BiHVolim

Zeljanica

Zeljanica is burek made with spinach. Except in Bosnia, where burek je samo s' mesom! (burek is only with meat!) There, it is only called zeljanica. Nobody in Zagreb is going to shout at you if you ask for burek with spinach. The spinach is wrapped in rolls of pastry before being cooked, the outside layers baking, the inside layers being steamed. Fans who cook this at home should really try a combination of spinach and feta-like or fresh cheese - it's delicious, but almost never on sale to the public.

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© Kokini recepti

Ćoravi gulaš

A peasant stew translated as blind goulash, this thick and tasty soup-like dish boasts potatoes, onions, carrots, tomatoes, parsley and sometimes peas. It is flavoured with ground paprika, salt, pepper, bay leaves and garlic. Best eaten with artisan or homemade crusty bread, this is a brilliant light lunch or inexpensive evening meal.

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© Maja Danica Pečanić / Croatian National Tourist Board

Fritaja sa šparogama

Asparagus is one of those foods, like sprouts, which you probably avoid as a kid, but can't get enough of when you grow up (after you've lost your extra taste buds). They certainly can't get enough of it in some parts of Istria, where there are festivals dedicated to the delicacy. You're sure to find fritaja sa šparogama on the menu of the best traditional Istrian restaurants during the vegetable's growing season. This egg-based dish also contains onions, olive oil, simple seasoning and often herbs. It's great for breakfast, brunch or lunch, eaten with crusty bread and it's a super treat when served with goats cheese and cold Istrian white wine like malvasia. Yum.

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© V Cirillo

Maneštra

Another dish from Istria, these days this stew-like soup is sometimes flavoured with meats. But in its traditional peasant serving it is a vegetarian favourite, comprised of beans, potatoes and sweet corn and flavoured with garlic and parsley.

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Burek is the most common vegetarian food in Croatia © Nikola Škorić

Sirnica

This is burek with a cheese filling, except in Bosnia where... you know the rest.

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Stews like Đuveđ make up a large percentage of the vegetarian food in Croatia © Rainer Zenz

Đuveđ

Đuveđ, sometimes called Đuvec, is a stew of Turkish descent. Its ingredients vary depending on who's cooking and what's in season, but it's not uncommon to find all of the following in this inviting dish - tomatoes, onions, carrot, courgette, aubergine and rice. Flavour can come from a variety of herbs, including oregano, thyme, rosemary and/or marjoram, depending on the chef and region, also salt, pepper and paprika powder.

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Of all the burek / pies in the list of best vegetarian food in Croatia, Bučnica is perhaps the most extravagant © Bučnica fest

Bučnica

Bučnica is arguably the most extravagant of all the burek/pies as its filling has the greatest number of ingredients. Inside its layers of pastry, you will find pumpkin, fresh cheese, sour cream, eggs, butter, salt and pepper. It's seen more frequently in autumn after pumpkins are harvested.

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© zeevveez

Sataraš

Though small in ingredients and simple to prepare, it's really easy to make a mess of sataraš. For the best results, always cook the ingredients in this order - onions, then peppers, tomatoes towards the end. This light vegetable stew is from Hungary and their best version uses the lightest of fresh peppers and the freshest tomatoes. Garlic is often added. Similar to French ratatouille, in other regions, they add courgettes and chilli powder to the dish. This is essentially simple, inexpensive, peasant food. To ramp it up to gastro-levels, try cooking one or all elements separately and then combining together at the end, like a salad. This works especially well with the peppers. Approaching sataraš in this non-traditional way preserves the individual flavours of each vegetable and stops it turning into a uniformly tasting mush.

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Pasta with truffles, one of the most opulent offerings of vegetarian food in Croatia © Maja Danica Pečanić / Croatian National Tourist Board

Fuži s tartufom

This Istrian pasta dish shines its spotlight on locally-sourced truffles. You can find it made with both the more common black truffles or the rarer (and more expensive) white truffles. If it's made with truffle oil, give it a miss - it's not the real deal. Unusually for a pasta dish, this one often makes use of butter. It adds to the luxuriousness of the taste.

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© Чакаровска

Krumpiruša

You might hear one or two people insist that Croatians don't usually eat meals that include more than one carbohydrate. This small number of people are usually from Zagreb and presumably forgot about krumpiruša (or indeed that many ask for bread to accompany their sarma - which contains rice - and is served atop mashed potato). Krumpiruša is lowly in ingredients, but one of the most satisfying pastries in Croatia. For the best results, again, use white pepper to season if you're making it at home.

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Youtube screenshot © Sašina Kuhinja

Zlevanka

To an outsider, zlevanka sounds like the name of the charming lady who rents you a holiday home in Montenegro. It's actually a speciality sweet pie from northern Croatia (particularly Međimurje), a peasant dish made with eggs, sugar, salt, cornflour, milk, fresh cheese or sour cream, yeast and oil. The cornflour is essential to give it the snack its distinct yellow colour. You might also see it called bazlamača, zlevka or kukuruznjača. Even sweeter versions are available which include apple or poppy seeds.

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© Cyrus Roepers

Gibanica

Popular all over the Balkans, in Turkey, Syria and in German-speaking nations, the origin of gibanica is a fight for some other writer. We're only concerned with the delicious taste of this strudel, which stars egg and cottage cheese. It can be served as a sweet or savoury snack.

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Soparnik is the undisputed king of vegetarian food in Croatia © Marc Rowlands

Soparnik

Profiled recently in a popular TCN feature, soparnik is the king of Croatian snacks. It is the rarest, usually only found in the Dalmatian hinterland behind Omiš. It is also the most authentically-Croatian item of food on this list. Blitva (a hardy, green chard), a little onion and salt are the filling inside this delicate, thin pastry, which is cooked in huge rounds on a traditional wood-fired oven. Delicious olive oil and tiny pieces of garlic are placed on top while it is still warm.

If you want to try some of the best vegetarian food in Croatia, check out this list of vegetarian restaurants

For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

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Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Founder of Most Popular Zagreb Pizzeria Under Mafia and State Crackdown

He has announced that if he is declared guilty, he will close his business and just as many other Croats, in a blink of an eye, leave to another country

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Too Lazy to Cut Your Own Pizza? Think Again: In Croatia, It Might Cost You

Another day in The Beautiful Croatia, a land of ridiculous service charges

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Budget Dubrovnik: Pizzeria Mamma Mia

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Budget Dubrovnik: Pizzeria Oliva

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Budget Dubrovnik: Mea Culpa

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Budget Dubrovnik: Pizzeria Tabasco

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Budget Dubrovnik: Pizzeria Mirakul

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