Posted by: viewfromtheriva | October 13, 2013

Croatian nouveau dining at Zora Bila, wow!

just one of the appetizers, the homemade pasta was divine

just one of the appetizers, the homemade pasta was divine

We learned about Zora bila from a friend of Natahsa’s, a konoba pizzeria in Zjnan in the entryway of an apartment building with a Tomy store?  Uh huh.  The first question of course is how to find this place.  “No problem, it’s opposite where the number 8 bus ends its route.,”  Since the #8 practically goes to our front door in Cascade, we decided to give it a shot.

Oh my, what a surprise!  The owner recognized me from a couple of years ago when I was doing some work with Marul, a very good restaurant in Fruit Square whose cream of shrimp soup is something we constantly enjoy.  He was one of their chefs and now he and his wife run Zora bila.

served in a preserve jar with mushroom pie, it was one of many surprises

served in a preserve jar with mushroom pie, it was one of many surprises

Before we ordered I asked the owner, Dane Tahirovic to tell me about the place. He said that he wanted to create a small bistro where he and his wife Sandra could create “….food with soul, food made with love.  So many restaurants now all serve the same food and they seem afraid to raise the standard, to use better quality ingredients, a less extensive menu….”

Zora bila has been open for about a year and has built a steady following.  “We want to get it to the point where we can move back into the city center with a 5-10 table restaurant that will be a place everyone will know is all about really outstanding cuisine and wine.”

Natasha and I were so taken aback with that I asked not to see the menu.  Just bring what you like and we’ll tell you what we think.  He loved it,.  So we sat back and waited.

In a wink Sandra brought us a flute of aged white wine infused with the essence of some sort of local flower and sparkling water that the couple had made themselves. Wow, what an amazing taste, with a fabulous nose of roses and acacia and soft, full, velvety almost dessert like mouth but with enough finish to leave the palate refreshed.

Wish we could have bought a case.

Mushroom soup and a delicate slice of mushroom pie came out next.  Served in a preserve jar, the soup was thick and delicious, full of mushrooms.  Alas it was a  bit too salty for my taste but the pie was a knockout, a buttery pate that was simply sensational.

Next came a wonderful homemade pasta dish, again with mushrooms and shavings of what seemed like Paski or grana Padano….and rocket of course!

We Hoovered (as in the name of the legendary vacuum cleaner) it instantly not only because we love pasta but the “homemade” stuff we have been trying in various places around town just don’t make it.

The pasta was served with a beautiful Posip from Korcula made by a new winery in Smokvica (where Toreta and others have fabulous vineyards).  It was the perfect pairing…so good that Dane quickly brought another glass when he saw that I was enjoying it way too fast.

more yumminess

more yumminess

I think we actually had this beauty first, come to think of it…..two delicately homemade ravioli stuffed with shrimp and fresh chives or ??  Perched on a creamy bed of pureed carrots.  We could have eaten a mountain of them….and what a beautiful presentation!

the main course!

the main course!

Along with the main course of perfectly rare beef filet served with polenta infused with truffle oil and garlic was a Merlot barrique from of all wineries, Dalmacijavino!

When I asked about the wine, Dana said it was one the last really good wines this legendary company made before it fell on hard times.  It was again a perfect pairing with the beef, a brave and inspired choice by a creative chef!

While the beef was perfect, the garlic was too aggressive.  For this dish to really be a winner, less is more because polenta is so easily overwhelmed with pretty much any spice.

Before dessert, another homemade wine was trotted out to be enjoyed. We were way too happy to figure out what it was, and practically swooned when Sandra brought out the house chocolate mousse made with olive oil and topped with some sprinkles of pomegranate.

absolutely killer

absolutely killer

Chocolate mousse is very simple to make, but very few get it so right.  Sandra’s was absolutely killer….dense, rich, not too sweet….I wished I was a giraffe so I could put my tongue all the way down to the bottom of the glass to get every last yumminess.

obviously lots of other people feel good about Lora bila!

obviously lots of other people feel good about Lora bila!

After the meal, Sandra brought the Guest Book to us to write our feelings…although this might seem pushy, it came across as charming, as if to say, how do you think we did?

Based on the Croatian and English-language comments, Sandra and Dane are doing just fine.

Can’t wait to come back for their pizza–there is a wood burning brick oven right in the dining room!


  1. Great review – thanks. Will add to our list of ‘Places to Eat in Split’.
    Looks and sounds great.

  2. Sounds wonderul!

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