A lot of vegetarian or vegan travelers have problems ordering food when travelling the Balkans. Most restaurants do not understand ‘no meat’ and most of the time chicken is considered to be vegetarian enough. In Sarajevo, Karuzo restaurant is the answer to all of your problems, as it is the only restaurant in the city (and probably the country) that serves delicious meat-free dishes.
“Life is too short to eat anywhere else.” says the slogan at Karuzo restaurant. Owner Saša Obučina has made it his life goal to educate us on healthy, mostly vegetarian, food and if we’re smart, we’d let him! His menu changes a lot and if you ask him what his specialty is, he’ll reply by saying: ‘everything!’
The fact that the restaurant serves vegan food is not even the best thing about it, as it is Saša who makes this place so damn special. He is the host, the chef, the waiter and in fact one of the most entertaining people I’ve met in a long time. He loves his food and he cares a great deal about every plate. Because he’s everything at the same time you should expect to be at the restaurant for a while. No quick grabs at this one, but that’s not a punishment at all!
Apart from vegetarian and vegan food the restaurant also serves fish. When I asked Saša about it, he told me that vegetarian food is still not understood fully in this part of Europe and therefore he decided to also serve fish. Personally I like this approach as a lot of people are still so skittish when it comes to eating veggie that maybe they should try it step by step. Me and my company ordered a mix of veggie, vegan and fish, accompanied by a bottle of wine from the Kosovo region, my mouth still waters by the idea of it.
As we wait for our first course, Saša is busy serving the other guests their food. Every plate that passes us is a true tease, something our great chef seems to understand as he shoves it under our nose just a little bit, while whispering: ‘or I can prepare you this.’ When we get our food he regularly comes up to show his face, making sure we have everything we need. Sometimes he stops at our table with some fresh herbs, which he distributes over our plates with some elegant hand gestures and, by now, his signature smile.
After our first dinner at Karuzo we were asked to stay for drinks on the terrace. That’s when Saša showed me the next step in his quest to eating healthy, a book called ‘My Healthy Cuisine’ written by the great man himself. The book, which I of course bought and treasure, contains his favorite recipes, taken from the Karuzo menu. The book explains why it’s so important to care about what you eat in Bosnian, German and English.
Eating at Karuzo is mostly only possible with a reservation, as the restaurant has only 18 seats. Saša, who could be a star chef at a fancy restaurant, prefers his restaurant this way. “It has everything to do with great, healthy food, a cozy atmosphere and some personal attention.” he says with a grin, while he writes down our reservation for the next day. Our trip to Sarajevo was way too short to eat anywhere else, and yes, probably life is as well, so take my advice and visit him now!