Fish and Meat Dishes at Parangal Restaurant


Located along the picturesque seafront promenade in Izola, Parangal Restaurant is known for its seafood and meat platters. Sanja, who has been involved in the family business since childhood, now leads the restaurant alongside her family, preserving the tradition of authentic dishes. Parangal prides itself on offering a diverse selection of plates crafted from locally sourced ingredients, all within a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. Discover the restaurant's history and future aspirations in the interview with Sanja Vatovci.

Parangal has a rich tradition rooted in Izola. How long have you personally been involved in running the restaurant?

Our story traces back to the era of the former Yugoslavia. Both of my parents graduated from the Catering and Tourism High School in Izola and subsequently gained experience working at Belvedere Hotels. In 1991, with Slovenia's independence, they too sought their independence (laughs) and embarked on their entrepreneurial journey by renting a restaurant near the lighthouse. There, they served fish and meat dishes, along with pizzas. In 2000, wanting a change of location, we decided to relocate to Parangal. Two years later, we renovated the restaurant. We also briefly operated a Mexican restaurant alongside Parangal. However, our core focus has always remained on serving fish and meat. In recent years, we've expanded our menu by adding an outdoor charcoal grill during favorable weather conditions. Moreover, we are delighted to have introduced a wood-fired pizza oven.

When did you step into the role of manager? Have you always been involved in the family business?

Yes, that's right. I was born in Izola and have always helped my parents, so it was natural for my brother and me to take over the family business. My parents are retired, but they still lend a hand. My brother is also very involved in the business. He handles the purchasing, while I manage the administrative tasks. We have two restaurants, Parangal in Izola and Riviera in Piran. I’ve always had a passion for tourism, which led me to study at the Faculty of Tourism Studies in Portorož and languages in Trieste. Although working in the hospitality industry is challenging – especially since weekends are always busy and it becomes even more difficult if you have a family – I love it.

Where did the name Parangal come from and what does it actually mean?

The name was actually chosen by the previous owners, but we kept it because we liked it – it's connected to the sea and Izola. »Parangal« (Eng. longline) is a fishing line with hooks. We added "Adriatic" because it was a part of the identity from the restaurant near the lighthouse, and we wanted to preserve that connection.

Parangal (Long​line): a heavy fishing line that may be many miles long and that has baited hooks in series.

What's your typical menu, and which dishes are the best sellers at Parangal?

Our top sellers include seafood like calamari, fish, and mussels, as well as meat dishes cooked on our outdoor charcoal grill. Foreign guests, especially from Germany and Austria, love mixed meat platters, ražnjiči (skewered meat), and čevapčiči (grilled minced meat). On the other hand, Italian visitors often prefer our seafood options.

What are the distinctive features of your restaurant, how is it different from other restaurants in Izola?

One advantage is our large indoor space, which can accommodate up to 150 people. This really comes in handy when Izola hosts larger groups for sporting events, such as regattas. Another advantage is our diverse menu, which includes fish, meat, barbecue, and pizzas. 

How is Parangal adapting to modern culinary trends such as locally produced food and seasonal menus?

In recent years, there's been a growing awareness of the importance of protein intake, so we've added salmon and tuna to our menu. We've also expanded our selection of salads to cater to the increasing interest in healthy lifestyles. We constantly update our offerings with new dishes to meet these trends.

We follow the seasons and actively participate in the culinary days organized by the Izola Tourist Board, something we've been involved in since the very beginning. We adapt our menu to the seasons: for example, we feature gilt-head seabreams when they're abundant and asparagus in the spring. We're also part of the Zero KM initiative, striving to buy fresh, seasonal ingredients from local fishermen and farmers.

What are the most popular local ingredients? What can't you do without and why?

Definitely fish and meat. We use Slovenian meat, which we buy from Agraria Koper. Fresh vegetables are also essential for our dishes. And of course, wine! We work with Vina Koper and wineries in Vipava. Our most popular open wines are Sauvignon, Malvasia, and Refosco.

How do the culinary traditions of Izola and Istria influence your menu and food quality? Do you follow traditional recipes or do you improvise?

We do both: we preserve traditional recipes that every new chef has to learn, like our fish platter and fish soup. Maintaining continuity in terms of quality is important to us, but we're also open to new ideas. Each chef brings their own touch to the menu.

»We try not to be too "fancy"; we want our guests to feel relaxed, at home, and welcomed.«

Who are your guests: tourists and day visitors, or locals?

It depends on the season. In summer, we see more tourists, while in winter, many weekend-home owners visit. We're proud of the high level of loyalty from both local and foreign guests. We regularly welcome back visitors from Italy, Germany, and Austria. Recently, we've seen an increase in guests from France, Spain, and the Netherlands. It's interesting to note the differences between nationalities—for example, Germans tend to have hearty appetites!

»Foreigners indulge more than Slovenians: food is an experience for them. They like to eat several courses and sit in the restaurant for up to five hours. Slovenians are always in a hurry and want everything fast.«

How would you describe a typical tourist in Izola?

I would say that, at least in the summer, it’s mostly families who come here. There aren’t many young people because there probably isn’t enough happening for them. We also see quite a few older visitors. In the summer, they spend most of the day on the beach, visit attractions like the museum and archaeological park, and enjoy meals in restaurants for lunch and dinner. I’m happy to see that more events have been happening in Izola lately, so we can offer more evening entertainment.

What advice would you give to tourists looking for an authentic gastronomic experience in Izola?

First and foremost, always order seasonal food, no matter where you go, as it is the freshest and most flavorful. Don't hesitate to ask the waiters for recommendations instead of just choosing from the menu.

How do you collaborate with other local providers and the community, and how does this affect your offering?

We collaborate with other restaurants primarily through themed culinary initiatives, such as Days of Mussels, Sardines, Asparagus. We always help each other whenever someone needs assistance or runs out of supplies. Rather than seeing each other as competitors, we support one another.

We regularly partner with local winemakers such as Vina Koper and Vina Markovič for our wine selection, particularly enjoying Refosco from the latter. Our mussels are sourced locally, as are our fish from local fishermen and our meat from Agraria … it’s all a way of networking and cooperation.  

»Our location is a big factor, as people like to stop and have a bite to eat along the sunny promenade. *«

How do you promote the restaurant? Do you use traditional or digital media?

We don't promote ourselves much at the moment. We're currently building a new website. While we're not present on social media yet, we know we'll need to work on that as well. It's one of our goals for the future.

You mentioned social media presence as one of your goals for the future, what are the others? Do you have any other plans?

More promotion, absolutely! Our restaurant is also very spacious, so we could turn part of it into an Istrian »konoba« (traditional Istrian tavern). One of our wishes is also to unite and connect Istrian winemakers. We're currently coming up with ideas to do something that doesn't exist in the vicinity yet. That's our biggest challenge.

Are you happy with your work so far? What are you most proud of?

We're proud of our loyal staff, with most of our employees having been with us for years, and we’re very thankful for that. We’re also proud of our good work and long existence, which we owe to our regular guests, especially the locals who keep returning. Finally, we’re proud of being a family business, preserving tradition, and gradually preparing the third generation to take over the reins.

To end on an entertaining note, here are a few interesting facts about our interviewee, Sanja Vatovci:

If I were one of the seafood dishes, I would be: seafood tris – a bit of everything.

An experience in Izola I really enjoy is:  bathing on the beach by the lighthouse.

Something I always recommend to my guests is: going to Belvedere.

My favorite event in Izola is: The Fishermen's Festival.

My favorite free-time activity is: excercising and reading.


*translator’s note: The name of the promenade is Sončno nabrežje, which literally translates to sunny promenade, capturing the vibrant, sunlit setting.

TIC Izola +386 5 640 10 50
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