Nautika Restaurant lies on the very edge of the sea at Pile, alongside the western entrance to Dubrovnik's Old Town. From its unique terraces, diners can enjoy a truly one of a kind view of the Adriatic and the fortresses of Lovrijenac and Bokar. The restaurant's chef, Mario Bunda, leads a team whose varied offerings include lobster from the Dalmatian island of Vis and delicacies from the local waters of the Adriatic.
About our cuisine: The chef's role begins where that of the craftsman, Mother Nature, ends. It consists of transforming something that is beautiful by its very essence into something exceptional. Nautika is a place that combines tradition, quality and creativity. It offers an innovative and refined style of Mediterranean cuisine.
The restaurant is housed in the former Dubrovnik School of Maritime Studies, where it welcomed famous seafarers since as far back as 1881. Today the restaurant serves to preserve the location's rich history, while retaining the noble atmosphere of Dubrovnik's reign as a republic.
In 2008. Nautika Restaurant was recognized as the sixth most romantic restaurant in the world by the much respected Condé Nast Traveller magazine. Nautika was honoured to host Blessed John Paul II on June 6th of 2003.
Interview with Nautika's Head Chef Mario Bunda Read more
Interview with Nautika's Head Chef Mario Bunda
In which direction is Croatian cuisine developing and how does Nautika fit into that development?
There has been a renaissance in Croatian gastronomy over the last decade or so, and things have really taken off. Most Croatian restaurants, including Nautika, draw inspiration from the nation's gastronomic heritage. Nautika cherishes the traditional dishes that we all grew up with, but we also like to incorporate modern trends and influences. The changing seasons largely dictate the different ingredients that we work with here. Nautika is a place where tradition, quality and creativity unite to produce an entirely new, "refined" type of Mediterranean cuisine.
Is tradition still at the heart of Croatian cuisine or are new styles and influences making waves?
Tradition is firmly at the heart of our gastronomic culture, and most restaurants base their offer on what could be described as traditional dishes. A small number of restaurants in Croatia do nonetheless present international alternatives. I don't know if I could put a label on my style because it's something that is constantly developing, growing and changing. It's certainly not something static. For me, cooking is about breathing life into products and dishes. It's about speaking to diners – sharing and communicating a passion. My professional training equips me to undertake this endeavour, but I think it's a matter of lifestyle as well.
What part does food play in Croatian culture and national pride?
Croatian cuisine is very diverse, and different regions reflect certain influences of various cultures that have left their mark in Croatia's history. In northern Croatia, for example, the cuisine tends to be largely Central European. Coastal cuisine greatly reflects Italian influences, particularly those from the Venice region, and even incorporates aspects from the Ottoman Empire. In old Dubrovnik, for example, in addition to local delicacies, you can find Venetian risottos and Turkish pilafs. At Nautika we are proud to present the very best that our coastal region has to offer. We are also fortunate to be housed in the former Dubrovnik School of Maritime Studies (locally called Nautika), which dates to 1881. This renowned building, where Dubrovnik seafarers learned their craft, forms part of Dubrovnik's Old Town which features on UNESCO's list of World Heritage sites. Even today, there is much at Nautika that reminds one of its rich history and maritime heritage.
To what extent is local produce important at Nautika and in other leading restaurants? Do you have any favourites?
From our seafood suppliers to those who farm our vegetables, we always try to "go local". We only use fresh seafood and it's something we are renowned for. Every morning, our supplier is down at Dubrovnik harbour meeting the local fishermen as they bring in their catch. Pulled straight from the Adriatic so the produce is both extremely fresh and healthy, we serve local lobster from the island of Vis, shrimp and a number of other fish. The gardens at Konavli and Župa are an endless source of fresh fruits and vegetables, but my initial ideas often stem from the local market at Gruž. Nautika also works with some rural smallholdings that produce organic fruit and vegetables. These suppliers generally only work for us and this ensures that we get the best of the best. I like to think that the role of the cook begins where the work of the farmer and nature cease. It consists in making splendid what is in itself already great.
Dubrovnik and Croatia appear to be attracting a great deal of celebrities. Has Nautika welcomed many famous people?
Due to the beauty of our town and its coast, each year brings us more and more famous personalities. At Nautika, we like to make each patron feel special, and we found welcoming Bono Vox, Woody Harrelson, Richard Gere, and Valentino especially memorable. It was also an exceptional honour to serve the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II.
What does the Croatian gastronomic scene need to reach a higher level?
The aim of every Croatian restaurant should be to use only local ingredients because they are full of flavor and those tastes cannot be copied elsewhere. Croatia is proud of its exceptionally clean and healthy marine eco-system which is ideal for seafood including shellfish, fish and snails. The growers also make good use of the healthy soil and well-preserved nature. Knowing how to capitalize on those resources while protecting them for future generations of diners is of obvious importance. The aim of every Croatian restaurant should be to use only local ingredients because they are full of flavour and possess tastes which can't be imitated elsewhere. Croatia is proud of its exceptionally clean and healthy marine eco-system which is ideal for seafood including shellfish, fish and snails. The growers also make good use of the healthy soil and well-preserved nature. Knowing how to capitalize on those resources while simultaneously protecting them for future generations of diners is of obvious importance. Personally, I would like to see more activity from the restaurants that only open seasonally. Events and happenings at these locations could motivate business and encourage a certain loyalty. Close
More about the history of Nautika Read more
More about the history of Nautika
About navigation and Nautical schools in Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik survived for a thousand years as an independent Republic. Its origin, development and downfall are related to the sea. For centuries it was a link between the Mediterranean countries, particularly its Eastern part and Balkan countries. All economic activities of this small state arose from the non-detachable connection of the town to the seafaring. This allowed this small town-state an independent survival and a rise into the most important maritime town on this side of the Adriatic Sea.
The Byzantine Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus in his work "On the management of the Empire" mentions that Dubrovnik ships had been transporting Croatian troops to Bari already in the year 869 to fight against Arabs Saracens.
Dubrovnik was an important military-maritime stronghold of the Byzantine governor of Dalmatian areas and it is known that in 1030 Dubrovnik’s ships engaged in the expedition undertaken by the Byzantines against the Arabs in the southern Italy.
Strengthening of the Croatian state in the struggle against the Venetians strengthened also the Dubrovnik maritime affairs and in 1153 the Arabian writer Al Idrisi speaks of Dubrovnik as the southernmost town on the Croatian territory and the town with many ships that undertake long voyages.
In the 13th century Dubrovnik ships sail to Syria, Egypt and other countries in the North Africa.
How important the maritime affairs were in the Dubrovnik Republic can be best seen in the Dubrovnik Statute of the year 1272, where the entire seventh book of the Statute is dedicated to the maritime industry.
By its liberation from the supreme government of Venice in 1358, Dubrovnik gets even bigger incentive to direct their trade by sea and then Dubrovnik's shipping and shipbuilding reach high quality. In the 14th century in Dubrovnik at least two hundred commercial and naval vessels were built of various types (years 1526 to 1808).
The biggest rise of the Dubrovnik maritime affairs was achieved under Turkish patronage, so Dubrovnik with its merchant navy was in the 16th century the most powerful town-state in the Mediterranean Sea. It is a time when the Republic of Dubrovnik has around 300 ships and 5.000 sailors. There are about 200 merchant sailing ships for out-Adriatic sailing with a total tonnage of around 66,000 tons. The annual income from the maritime industry amounts to approximately 150,000-200,000 gold pieces (ducats).
In the 16th century the inhabitants of Dubrovnik with their sailboats perform nautical and commercial operations in the ports of Albania, Greece, Black Sea, Sicily, Apennine Peninsula, North Africa, Spain, Portugal, all the way to Portsmouth, London and Hamburg.
At the same time, prominent Dubrovnik ship-owners have ships sailing under the flag of Spain and Portugal. Together with these ships, with their tonnage, in that period they were at the top of the then-known maritime world.
Due to changes in economic conditions in the Mediterranean during the 17th century there has been a gradual decline in naval power of the Dubrovnik Republic. Especially after the catastrophic earthquake that hit the centre of Dubrovnik in the year 1667.
Once again, Dubrovnik will rise at the end of the 18th century, when Dubrovnik’s sailing ships begin sailing across the Atlantic Ocean. After the abolition of their Republic in 1808 by Napoleon, the fate of Dubrovnik ships, sailors and traders has fundamentally changed.
Arrival of steamships in the 19th century caught unprepared the inhabitants of Dubrovnik, and in the new situation Dubrovnik did not have the same role in the maritime life of Europe as the one it had proudly kept for centuries.
Citizens of Dubrovnik were not only skilled sailors, but shipbuilders as well. Ships from Dubrovnik became known worldwide for its solidity, strength, and navigation capabilities. Dubrovnik’s ship ‘’karakun’’ (Italian: caraccone) was called "Argosy" (ARagosa) by Englishmen, a word that has become a synonymous for the solidly built ship carrying precious and rich cargo, and it is believed to have taken its origin from the Roman name of the Town of Dubrovnik - Ragusa.
Maritime trade together with the onshore trade developed a number of other unavoidable activities: shipbuilding, port development, transport, which connects the Town with the hinterland, maritime law, marine insurance, maritime health service and in connection with all these, maritime education.
Sailors' training for centuries unfolded in such a way that the knowledge and skills were obtained only with the work, during its performance. Older and more experienced sailors passed on their knowledge to the sailors on board during the work.
Wider knowledge, which the ship master had to have, was acquired partly through learning in practice and partly through various forms of private tuition.
It is known that in Dubrovnik and in the nearby town of Cavtat in course of the 18th century and also in the 19th century various courses were held where the seamen were taught how to work on the ship. These courses were held mostly by old and experienced captains of sailing ships.
The arrival of the Austrian government after the Congress of Vienna (in 1814) regulates the right to command ships, so no sailor could get permission to command ship unless he had passed the exam in the Nautical Academy in Trieste.
As this was hard to realize, on 24th Sept.1848 the Austro - Hungarian monarchy brought a decision to open its nautical schools along the then Austrian Coast and these were schools in Bakar, Zadar, Split, Dubrovnik, Kotor.
Last such school was opened in Dubrovnik in the year 1852.
The ocean navigation captain Jakov Podić who got trained at the Nautical Academy in Trieste became the first director of the Nautical School in Dubrovnik.
Nautical School in Dubrovnik was active in the Town's main elementary school.
"I.r. Istituto nautico-navale di Ragusa", as the school was then called, trained cadre of officers and commanders for long voyages and small coastal sailing, cadre capable of accounting affairs, and shipbuilders.
The Nautical School in Dubrovnik became an independent school in 1874, i.e. it split from the former elementary school. Up to the year 1881 the school changed three buildings within the Town walls.
It began working in the Gozze building (which houses the elementary school even today), and then continued to operate in the building of the Dominican Monastery and finally acted in the Grammar School building (former convent of St. Catherine - now the Music School).
Since the school year 1881-82 the school works in a building on BRSALJE (now the restaurant Nautika), where it would remain for more than seven decades, specifically till the year 1954.
A lot of famous and prized captains came out of this school. Reputation of a sea captain was very big even outside the ship. The reputation in the maritime Dubrovnik was comparable with the reputation of doctors, lawyers and professors.
Since 1922 the school in Brsalje works as the "Nautical Academy". The training lasts for four years. The Academy was operating continuously in this same building in the time of World War II. In the year 1954 the school was relocated to a new location, and in 1959 the two-year Nautical College was founded.
Since 1997 the Faculty of Maritime Studies works in Dubrovnik.
About the catering facilities of BRSALJECatering facilities – coffee bars, inns and boarding houses existed in Dubrovnik even at the time of the Dubrovnik Republic. With the development of tourism and increased tourist traffic in the 19th century, the need also grows for additional facilities that will serve the growing new industry.
In 1817 a planned landscaping began in the Brsalje area, which became a town promenade. Brsalje is a part of Pile, just before the entrance to the Town, facing south towards the small sea bay. That year on both sides of the access road a line of mulberry trees was planted. And at the end of the walkway a public park was arranged, which became known as Theodora park. The place soon became a favourite gathering place for the citizens of Dubrovnik. Probably because for that reason in 1836 Nikola Birimiša built and opened a café in Brsalje ‘'Caffè all' Arciduca Federico '; soon it became the most popular Dubrovnik café. According to contemporaries’ words, during the morning it was full of tourists and in the afternoon there were more domestic people. It was, as they say, particularly animated in front of the Birimiša café on Sunday afternoons when the 'whole Town moved here to enjoy ice cream and listen to the military music chapel'. The café was later called 'Dubravka’. Around the year 1866, in the Pile area, in the building next to the sea and opposite to 'Dubravka’, yet another inn is mentioned -'Al Boschetto'. The inn also had rooms to let and was used as a hostel. It became known as the 'Albergo al Boschetto'. Namely, Brsalje at that time was covered with treetops of fully grown trees, so these plantations by the citizens of Dubrovnik were called 'Bošak', meaning grove, from which the hotel takes its name. The owner of this hotel was Captain Nikola Andrijašević. Hotel also worked in the eighties of the 19th century. The fact we know from the diary of the priest and writer Mato Vodopić (whose works are still performed during the Dubrovnik Summer Festival), who wrote that the emigrant Mato Kunić returned from South America where he had spent 25 years, where he had got married and had become rich…."He had gained something, his wife brought something "), and that he, arriving with his wife in Dubrovnik, was staying at the inn 'Al Boschetto' in the Pile area. Until when this hotel existed is not determined with certainty. It is known only that it did not exist in the nineties of the 19th century because the Nautical College moved into the building in which the hotel was, and it stayed there until 1954. This is why the name ‘’Nautika’’ has remained permanently to this building. In the late eighties of the 20th century, the building became the property of the tourist agency 'Atlas', and along with a pertaining terrace it was converted into a prestigious catering facility named ‘Nautika’.