One Day in Slovenia, I Ate Here…
Cheesy appetizers, ice (!) and more at Allegria Restaurant in the heart of downtown Ljubljana.
I love appetizers. I mean, what’s not to love? At least in America…chicken wings, queso dip, mozzarella sticks…it’s often fried bliss (sorry arteries). Well America, I’m here to tell you that Slovenia has you beat in the world of appetizers, at least if Allegria Restaurant in Ljubljana is any indication. Its appetizers were delicious and I daresay healthy. Oh yeah, and the entrees were pretty awesome, too.
Slovenia Appetizers at Allegria Restaurant
But first the appetizers.
After being seated on the patio (no one was inside as it was a 90 degree day and there was no air conditioning, but this was not strange or inconvenient…I don’t think I encountered air conditioning anywhere in Ljubljana so wasn’t expecting it) in front of the well welcomed massive fan that was misting water, my mom and I promptly ordered some white wine and began perusing the menu.
The menu was pretty massive and not just because it had multiple languages in it. I turned the power over to our server. “What do you recommend?”
Turned out, he recommended a lot, mostly in terms of appetizers, which were all homemade.
Then out came the…ICE. Ok, I’ll list the appetizers in a moment, but first I must say that Allegria voluntarily brought us a glass of ice on this super hot day. Ice is a huge rarity to be served in Europe and mom and I immediately began panting our appreciation and held the glass of ice to our foreheads. This was the first restaurant after four weeks of traveling through Europe in a heat wave that did this. That alone affords this place five stars, but luckily the food held up too in terms of above par quality.
I’ll admit, I was wondering how good the food was going to be (mom and I had had some amazing meals in eastern Europe by this point) and the large menu and multiple languages was screaming tourist joint and what was sure to be subpar food. I was pleasantly mistaken. Yes, the place catered to tourists, but why shouldn’t it? It’s located right smack dab in the middle of Ljubljana, which is an up and coming destination for travelers. Plus, I noticed after we’d been sitting there longer that it looked like there were a couple tables of locals on their lunch break. The food was excellent, especially the aforementioned appetizers.
There was the pesto bruschetta with a strong parmesan flavor, created by Allegria Restaurant with homemade bread and homemade pesto.
And the beef carpaccio.
Next up were the cottage cheese dumplings.
Then came the grilled courgettes with Olimje cheese, which was insanely good and my favorite thing we had at Allegria. The Olimje cheese that tasted a bit like mozzarella with a hint of cheddar. Courgette is a fancy way of saying zucchini. Pine nuts were sprinkled on top, which gave a hearty depth to the flavor.
Turns out Slovenia likes cheese with its appetizers, too, only it’s much more fresh tasting.
Allegria Restaurant Entrees and a Slovenian Dessert
For entrees, the server gave us a few recommendations, but mostly left it opened ended depending on what we liked. The menu consisted of a mix and match menu with a variety of sauces to go with main dishes of meat. It also had some creative sounding fish entrees like John Dory fillet with carrots, celery and kohlrabi or grilled octopus with pine nuts and rocket. There were also a variety of pasta sauces that you could pair with several different types of noodles, including homemade tagliatelle and homemade gnocchi. I decided to stick to something basic and ordered the Chicken Milanese (which the server had recommended) while mom ordered the veal fillet with the choice of Karst sauce.
The Karst sauce is made with Teran (a type of grape) juices and proscuitto and leeks which gave mom’s dish a purple-pink tinge and it looked interesting to say the least. It had a flavor like no beef dish I’ve had before, with a strong berry flavor from the Teran grape that helped bring out a mild sweetness in the veal.
My chicken Milanese looked much more boring when it came out, but the breaded parmesan crust was packed with flavor, giving the chicken a buttery, savory flavor.
We had a bottle of Santomas Refošk red wine to go along with our meal, a very dense red wine that was produced in Slovenia.
For dessert, we got the vanilla cream with figs that were marinated in a sweet dessert wine, and the Gibanica. The Gibanica is a traditional layer cake in Slovenia that has a mix of interesting flavors that was more hearty tasting than I was expecting as opposed to just being sweet as the layers consist of apples, walnuts, cottage cheese, poppy seed, and strudel pastry.
Allegria Restaurant Location in Ljubljana
Allegria is located on Nazorjeva, a side street down from the Grand Union Hotel, a short distance from Triple Bridge. The portions are huge and the prices are very affordable (less than €13 for most entrees with many under €10) and the restaurant stays open during the midday siesta.
Note: I was a guest of Allegria Restaurant and received a complimentary meal, but — as always — my review and opinions on my dining experience there are completely my own.