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A little bit of Europe on the marsh
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I’ve never actually seen a European sunset, mind you, but after my conversation with Restaurant Adriatic’s owner, Stijepan Popovic, I can now see it as clearly as if I were standing on the shore in his hometown of Dubrovnik.

The rust-orange walls…the honey toned glassware … the rich, dark wood of the tables and bar... all culminate to evoke a sensation similar to that of watching a glowing European sunset.

Dubrovnik is a small city in Croatia, rich in history and culture and largely dependent on its ports as a source of income. Sounds a lot like Savannah, doesn’t it?

According to Popovic, this was what attracted him to our city in the first place.

“So many places want to destroy history,” he says. “Savannah was one of few places I have found that tries to preserve history.”

History is very important to Popovic – both in choosing where to live and what he serves at his restaurant.

“All over Europe, you have one country taking over another country. You have migrations. You have exploration and trade. Impossible for these things to happen without cultures influencing each other,” he says.

“What I do, I call ‘Borderless Cuisine’. I feature foods from all over Europe. I try to keep with the real, traditional roots of the foods and prepare them in traditional ways.”

With selections like Hungarian goulash, Vienna schnitzel, Raznjici Shish kebabs and one of his signature dishes, Dubrovacki medaljoni (pork tenderloin medallions in a cherry wine sauce), there is no doubt that his menu is diverse.

For Popovic, however, it is not enough to simply provide a European carte du jour; He wants to provide the full European experience.

“In Europe, people don’t simply eat, they dine,” he stressed. “When we eat, we sit, we talk. Meals can take hours. They are to be enjoyed; they are about togetherness and friendship and family.”

For those among us a bit leery of European fare -- whether the reason be the myth of all European food being exceedingly rich or, in my case, the fear that I would not be able to pronounce and/or determine what I was eating -- never fear.

While some of the dishes can be a bit hard to pronounce, each has a clear (read: English) description of exactly what the item consists of and how it is prepared. As for the “rich” myth, Popovic assures all concerned that there is something for everyone, from the health-conscious (including vegetarians) to those who say “calorie, schmalorie.”

The Restaurant Adriatic menu consists of 12 everyday entrees as well as four daily specialties that are ever-changing and largely seasonal. It also offers a wide variety of appetizers, gourmet salads, soup-of-the-day selections and desserts, as well as an extensive wine and beer list.

Everything is always fresh, never frozen. The meat and vegetable selections are personally made on a daily basis and if Popovic does not like what he sees, he won’t buy it.

Chef duties at Restaurant Adriatic are split between Popovic himself, his wife, Emira (Mira, as she is known to all) and their son, Toni.

Though appreciative of his regulars, Popovic is eager to see new faces in his establishment. When you visit, expect to see him floating from table to table, taking time to talk to everyone.

“I love meeting my customers and answering any questions they have,” he says. “You want to know something about the food, you ask me.”

Restaurant Adriatic is in the Marshpoint Plaza, 1 Diamond Causeway. Reservations, while not required, are recommended. Dress recommendation is business casual. Open 5:30-10:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Call 691-5101.