A bank and a missionary chapel for old seamen in the 19th century and premises of various businesses up until recently, the lovely heritage-listed building at 139 Nelson Place in Williamstown is now home to Ragusa Republika, a fine dining restaurant celebrating Croatian cuisine.
Manager Eva Maddox says that while the character-rich building they occupy is well-known by many, far fewer may know about the deliciousness of Croatian cooking. She says their chef, Santosh, creates amazing food, with the traditions of Croatian cuisine given respect and care.
“His creativity and love come out in all his food,” says Eva. “And he has Teta (aunty) Nada alongside. She creates traditional dishes like she always has – no measurements, all by taste. If we twist her arm enough, Teta Nada might start cooking classes which I know people would love.
“Then there’s Pino, who’s our wine expert. He’s a go-to for matching wine with food, knows his spirits, and can suggest one of the many great Croatian wines. We also have Sasha in front-of-house, an expert in Croatian cuisine who is working hard to organize our popular Croatian music nights.”
What can guests expect from Ragusa Republika’s fine dining approach in a beautiful fine dining setting?
Traditional Croatian choices for entree include the likes of pašteta od bakalara – salted cod with homemade flatbread; and zagorski štrukli – traditional baked pastry pillows filled with ricotta, served with truffle oil.
Other perhaps more familiar dishes, such as squid ink dumplings with calamari, chilli and garlic, as well as scampi risotto are also on the menu.
The mains introduce ribarska popara – traditional seafood stew; and dinstani kiseli kupus – sauerkraut with pork and potato. Or it goes way upmarket with a 350-gram chargrilled wagyu 8+ scotch fillet, while twice-cooked duck and Moreton Bay bugs are also in the mix.
And dessert? Eight delicious selections include knedle – plum dumplings with plum sauce and sour cream, a traditional favourite.
Eva says Ragusa Republika is also a classy year-round function venue.
“We can host any kind of celebration,” Eva explains. “Just recently, we’ve hosted a christening, a corporate business lunch and canapé-style birthday party, to name a few.
“The function room, with a private alfresco area, can be decorated according to a client’s request, and our 156-seat licensed restaurant can be configured for either sit-down meals or cocktail functions.”
Ragusa Republika, 139 Nelson Place, Williamstown. Inquiries: 9069 6690 or ragusarepublika.com.au