Seafood in the Kvarner is as good as anywhere in Croatia, although the Gulf is famous above all for its scampi, which thrive in this part of the Adriatic due to the sea’s uniquely sandy bottom. Kvarner scampi can be prepared in a number of ways although the classic recipe is škampi na buzaru, served in a garlic and wine sauce. The scampi are invariably served whole and unpeeled – you are supposed to prize them open with your fingers and suck out the white flesh.
Prime among the island-based specialities is Pag cheese, a hard and piquant affair that is best eaten as a nibble-and-savour starter. A regional staple found on the island of Krk and on the nearby mainland too is šurlice, long, thin tubes of pasta dough, traditionally eaten sa gulašom (with goulash) or sa žgvacetom (with lamb stew). Visitors to Rab should not leave without sampling rabska torta, the marzipan-filled pastry sold in local patisseries, while most famous of the region’s wines is Vrbnička Žlahtina, an excellent white from Vrbnik on Krk’s east coast.
Some of Croatia’s best restaurants are in the Rijeka–Volosko–Opatija strip, with establishments like Bevanda (Opatija), Plavi Podrum and Le Mandrać (both Volosko) frequently topping local culinary surveys.