House of Ribs is a slam dunk! The use of sports analogies may be a cliché in most cases, but considering the fact that the restaurant’s owner and Executive Chef, Joško Višnjić, is in fact a former professional basketball player, the association fits nicely. Although in operation for four years already at 9 Puljska street, in Zagreb’s Trešnjevka neighbourhood, the restaurant continues to be the only game in town — and perhaps the country — when it comes to serving top quality American-style barbecue ribs.
The menu certainly goes above and beyond when it comes to offering the very best in ingredients and authentic American barbecue flavours. This speaks highly of Joško and his wife Maja, as they are very hands-on owners. It’s easy to see the passion they have for the place and the tremendous efforts they take in ensuring that every meal they make remains consistent in quality and presentation. The ingredients are always fresh and there’s a special emphasis on locally-sourced products.
Ribs: delicious, savoury, sweet, smokey, spicy, succulent, fall-off-the-bone goodness. The restaurant’s runaway hit is certainly their baby back ribs. In fact, Joško was the first to introduce this particular North American-style cut of ribs to Croatia. He spent years fine-tuning his barbecuing skills in the Southern United States and has successfully transported the intricacies and know-how to Zagreb: a tall order that’s definitely not easy to achieve on either side of the pond.
The ribs (pork, veal, and authentic Boškarin beef) are all meticulously prepared and nurtured for between 12 hours and 2 days (yes, that’s right: two days); ending with a quick turn on their custom-made charcoal grill. The results are nothing less than astounding: the profound flavours are steeped in flawless smokey goodness, with a crispy outside, tender inside, and a well-balanced sweetness that’s not overpowering. Their sauces are classic barbecue style and stay within the genre; not becoming unnecessarily pretentious in their complexity.
Another enticing point about the menu is that it’s rich in its simplicity. With only five or six entrees available, the staff makes sure they do them all well. It’s a tremendous relief to not have an overly-ambitious menu filling pages and pages of average food running the gastronomic gamut. They stick predominantly to ribs, and they do them well.
Even the presentation of the food, served on large wooden cutting blocks, is a simple yet social affair, as most of their entrees are shared. It’s a not-so-subtle detail that harkens back to the familial feeling one gets from a real backyard barbecue — where sharing is the norm.
The ambience is simple, sleek and modern. It’s a good thing too, since space inside the restaurant is cozy and intimate. R&B Food lets their unrivalled barbecue experience do the talking, instead of trying to recreate a caricature of some American joint from a bygone era.
While open seven days a week, it’s best to make a reservation during peak hours.
“Whatever you do, do it well. Do it so well that when people see you do it, they will want to come back and see you do it again, and they will want to bring others and show them how well you do what you do.” Walt Disney