Dubrovnik—a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a filming location for Game of Thrones and one of Croatia's most popular tourism destinations—isn’t short on stunning, seaside vistas. But it’s tough to beat the views from Nautika. Outside of the Old City’s Pile Gate, this Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence winner is located within the former Dubrovnik School of Maritime Studies building, a historic stone edifice looking out over the West Harbor and the Adriatic Sea. From tables on the restaurant’s terraces, diners can gaze at the azure waters framed by the ancient city walls and fortresses.
Chef Mario Bunda is responsible for Nautika’s Croatian-cuisine menu, which celebrates local vegetables and fresh Adriatic seafood, the latter procured from a Dubrovnik fishmonger each morning. Across the à la carte menu and the five- and seven-course tasting menus, guests can enjoy dishes such as lightly smoked tuna tartare with orange chutney, a white fish fillet on a bed of cherry tomatoes and spinach, cuttlefish with sweet potato puree and broccoflower, and shrimp with gnocchi and beurre blanc.
Wine director Marko Šram oversees Nautika’s growing, 614-label wine program, tapping a cellar of nearly 9,000 bottles. From Champagne to Burgundy, France makes up a good portion of the list, as does Italy with picks from Piedmont to Tuscany and beyond. The selections touch on a remarkable number of wine regions around the globe, from the historic to the new, with other strengths in Spain, Napa Valley and Slovenia. But there’s a clear star here: Croatia itself.
Šram and Nautika celebrate Croatia’s winemaking traditions and innovations, spotlighting regions like Dalmatia, Istria and Kvarner, and leading wineries such as Grgic and Plenković (Zlatan Otok). From the by-the-glass list of nearly 60 wines, diners can explore native varieties such as Grk, Plavac Mali and Teran. The Croatian selections include significant vertical depth, as well as skin-contact whites, large-format bottles and a wide range of dessert wines (along with a robust set of Sauternes, Tokaji and Port). Nautika also hosts special wine and dining events on occasion, allowing for further exploration of the wine program.
Notably, Nautika also offers a selection of wines made using a storied and ancient technique: aging bottles under the sea.