Meet Para di Šoto: The Restaurant Within Diocletian’s 4th-Century Imperial Spa
A few months ago we introduced you to Hotel Slavija, the oldest hotel in Split. While we were fascinated to learn about this ancient hotel situated in the heart of Diocletian’s Palace, we learned something even more captivating that compelled us to come back for more.
Total Split paid another visit to Hotel Slavija’s manager Mirjana Svaguša eager to learn more Para di Šoto, the hotel’s restaurant that is perfectly positioned inside of Diocletian’s Imperial Spa. Here’s a taste of what we learned.
Hi again, Mirjana. It is always a pleasure to meet with you – you’re a wealth of information! While we were able to dive into the history of the hotel the last time we met, this time we really wanted to focus on the uniqueness of the restaurant, Para di Šoto. How would you best summarize the restaurant for our readers?
Para di šoto is a restaurant within Diocletian’s Imperial spa which dates back to the 4th-century! All of our dishes are made in the Mediterranean spirit with great respect to Croatian autochthonous cuisine. Our wines come from small, family owned vineyards and we even offer a rooftop terrace! But we can get into that a bit later.
Now that we have a general idea, how did the restaurant come about?
I want to start off by saying that the strength of each company lies within the people that work there. When employees really feel who they are working for, amazing and brilliant ideas are born. Such is the story of Para di Šoto.
Let’s first talk about how we came up with the name “Para di šoto.” The story hidden behind it is actually quite interesting and we must give many thanks to our colleague Gordana and her brilliant idea which targeted exactly who we are as an establishment. This particular name was given in order to preserve the memory of what this place used to be. Once upon a time, this was where Diocletian`s private thermae resided. The name “Para di šoto” actually correlates with the floor heating system “hypocaust” (the steam coming up from underneath) which dates back to the 4th-century, and with the local dessert called “paradižot” which the Croatian Ministry of Tourism declared to be Intangible Cultural Heritage. The idea was to combine a part of Roman history along with something unique and related to our cuisine. To make things even better, some of the remains from the time when great Emperor Diocletian ruled are still visible on our premises.
Incredible that you were able to tie together the rich history of the space with a classic part of Split cuisine – truly brilliant! Can you tell us a bit about what you offer at Para di Šoto?
All of our dishes are made in the Mediterranean spirit with great respect to Croatian autochthonous cuisine. We cherish traditional Dalmatian cooking, similar to the way our grandparents prepared their dishes, with a lot of love and patience. Nevertheless, we do not forget to follow culinary trends.
Traditional recipes and modern presentation techniques, accompanied with the chef`s personal touch, has led to tasty creations and works of art. There is one more thing we are particularly proud of, and that is we only use homegrown and fresh produce. Most of what we use comes from the restaurant`s private garden which is only a 10-minute walk from our premises. The rest of our ingredients come from our loving partners and declared producers of organic food.
And one of the most important questions yet – the chef! Who is the face behind the restaurant?
Our chef, Itan, discovered his love for cooking when he was just a young boy. Imagine a child, a bit older than a toddler, standing next to his grandfather in a spacious, professional kitchen – propelling himself into the amazing world of gastronomy. That is when everything started. His love for cooking grew each day and led to Itan himself becoming a respectable chef. Constantly striving to improve himself on every level, Itan regularly participates in international culinary seminars and workshops. His work has been recognized by experts and he has won medals for his “seafood risotto,” “homemade pasta with sea urchin and Adriatic shrimps,” and “rack of lamb cutlets with a cream of fava beans.” His award-winning dishes are a part of our standard menu.
It seems that you have a very interesting wine selection that pulls from many local wineries around Split. Tell us more.
It is important to point out that all of our wines are strictly Croatian and come from small, family owned vineyards. We are talking about winemakers and their families who really love what they do and use their heart and soul in the wine making process, from its beginning until its end. That is the reason why most of the wines on our wine card are limited edition. Each grape is checked and only the best ones go into the actual production. A little less conversation, a bit more action.
And last but not least, the terrace! You’ve given us a teaser about it at the beginning of the interview and it would be a shame not to hear about it now. Please do tell!
Yes, the terrace! If you are into panoramic views and privacy, apart from the restaurant`s premises on the ground floor, you can find gourmet pleasure to the fullest, far away from the crowds in an oasis of complete intimacy on our private rooftop terrace. The terrace is on the fifth floor with spectacular views of Split. Just imagine, enjoying your meal with the ones you love, surrounded by the picturesque landscape of Split. Our beautiful Marjan hill, the clean Adriatic Sea, and Saint Duje’s bell tower are just a little piece of the beauty that awaits you on the fifth floor.
The terrace is suitable for private dinner parties, cooking classes, small weddings, baptismal fetes, art colonies and much more. The terrace can accommodate up to 20 guests in total. Professional personnel, including a private chef and waiter, are also a part of what we offer on our fifth floor.
To learn more about Para di Šoto, you can visit the Para di Šoto’s Facebook page here.