By: Angela Grbin
We were only in Zagreb for two days after a hectic, but wonderful 4-week trip around the Dalmatian coast. Feeling peckish and in the search for some quality local food that was not going to break the bank (which had been hammered over the last month on the coast), we were given an ‘insider’ tip to try Il Secondo located over the river in Novi Zagreb.
The first thing that stood out as we approached II Secondo was how it looked slightly out-of-place in its location. II Secondo is located around 4km out of the city centre. Surrounded by raw 80s departmental buildings, II Secondo’s slick Italian feel felt as if it would be better suited on one of the high streets in downtown Zagreb.
Although not rammed packed, we were promptly greeted by our immaculately groomed waiter for the night, who looked as if he would not be out-of-place in GQ magazine.
We were quickly run through the menu and told that the special menu for the day featured an entrée of bruschetta with fresh tomatoes , basil and olive oil, a main of homemade gnocchi in a veal, tomato, and cheese sauce, topped off with ice-cream and cake.
I decided to go for the bruschetta entrée and I am happy I did. The bread was perfectly toasted and the kick in the basil and garlic was nicely balanced by the tomatoes. There were not too much to spoil your appetite, but enough to open it up.
After tossing between a number of homemade pastas, tuna and steak, I finally decided on the nocchi neri di seppia con salmone e rucola, or homemade black gnocchi with a salmon cream and cognac sauce with rucola, and I am glad I did. The main was absolutely divine. The black gnocchi, from cuttlefish, were so soft and fresh that they just slid down. The sauce is rich and complimented the gnocchi perfectly. The riccola salad added another dimension and balanced the tastes well. The portion was also very generous and they nailed the balance of sauce to gnocchi.
Desert was crème brûlée and I would not be exaggerating saying that it was easily in the top 3 crème brûlées that I have ever had. Smooth, flavour-some, vanilla kick and caramel cooked just right. All washed down with a glass of Tomic Plavac.
A very, very pleasant restaurant experience, made even more pleasant when the bill arrived. Just under 20 euros. I thought very reasonable for the quality that was served. Il Secondo – I Second that!