By Nadia El Ferdaoussi from TheDailySelf.me.
Thinking of foodie havens, Malta isn’t usually the first place to spring to mind. The Maltese islands are already famous for having some of the most clear waters in the world at the Blue Lagoon and becoming the film sets of Gladiator, Troy and Game of Thrones, but not quite as famous as neighbouring Italy for its food and wine.
The cuisine is undoubtedly Mediterranean; fresh seafood, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, locally produced wine and limitless supply of freshly baked breads and pastries, but you’ll also notice North African influences coming through. Food is hearty in Malta, portions are generous and rabbit is big business. Sweet sun-dried tomato paste, flavoured honey and Bigilia, a broad bean dip (or Malta’s answer to hummus) are absolute must-tries, but where are the best places to eat and drink on the islands? Let’s take a look.
6 Restaurants to try out in Malta and Gozo
1. Diar il – Bniet in Dingli Village
Make sure you’ve worked up an appetite for a lunch-time feast at Diar il – Bniet, they will try and fatten you up. Everything is produced locally and the menu changes seasonally, with fresh fruit and vegetables selected daily from their very own fields. The preserves, pickles, jam and oil are all homemade too and you can even pick some up from the farm shop if you’re impressed – and you will be.
Order the Zalzett Malti Mixwi Bil-Basal (Maltese sausage sauteed with onions), bread, cheese and dips. Comfort food at its best – warm, tomatoey, cheesy but somehow managing not to be too rich or heavy. Like I said, go hungry!
English afternoon tea might not be the most traditional way to dine in Malta, but the setting of the Baroque style Palazzo Parisio and walled gardens make this the best spot to take a well earned late afternoon break.
Delicate homemade sweets and pastries, generously filled finger sandwiches and a cool glass of bubbly pair perfectly with Jing tea served in proper tea cups and fine china. Make sure you book ahead though as this place gets busy very quickly. It’s not hard to see why this hidden gem is so popular.
3. Caviar and Bull, St. Julians
Molecular cocktails and a modern Mediterranean fusion menu with some of the best scallops, fresh oysters and lobster from the tank, make Caviar and Bull well worth a visit. The Wagyu beef tacos and the Cubanito mojito cocktail sphere served on crushed ice and liquid nitro were the most memorable and highly recommended.
4. Ta’ Mena Estate, Gozo
‘The island effect’, that’s what the wines on the Ta’ Mena Estate have – a trace of sea salt on the palate, making them the perfect accompaniment to the sun-dried tomato paste, capers, olives, Gozo peppered cheese and pâtés you can try in the tasting room. Ask the owner, Joseph Spiteri, to try the “party” Chardonnay and make sure you leave with a couple of bottles.
5. Il – Kartell, Gozo
Run by the brother of the above mentioned wine estate, Il – Kartell is situated in the seaside town of Marsalforn Bay and allows you to complete a full farm-to-table experience when visited in quick succession. The fresh produce and wines are supplied direct from the estate and this little fishing village naturally provides the freshest seafood on offer.
Request a table directly on the water’s edge and go for the traditional Gozitan dish of braised rabbit in red wine or choose any of the fresh fish from the daily specials list and you won’t be disappointed
6. Club Bar, Phoenicia Hotel
For fancy drinks and an incredible evening view of the harbour in Valletta from the open air terrace, visit the Club Bar in the 5* Phoenicia Hotel. The experienced and friendly bar staff know their stuff when it comes to putting a good cocktail together. Go for the classic pre-dinner Negroni, and round off an evening of fine dining with an espresso martini, or choose from the extensive whiskey list.
These are some of the best places to eat and drink in Malta and Gozo, but you’ll also be spoilt for choice walking through the city streets. Pastizzis are the national snack, a warm savoury pastry filled with ricotta or peas and washed down with sweet tea can be found in hundreds of places. Iced coffee is sweetened and readily available from street market vendors and you shouldn’t ever find yourself too far from good gelato.
If you’re planning a trip to Malta or Gozo, take time to get lost along the many picturesque streets and try the local dishes, as they are packed full of flavour and will have you more than impressed with the local food scene. With fresh, local produce readily available almost everywhere you go, there’s no excuse for getting involved with the Maltese food scene when holidaying in Malta and Gozo.
Plan your trip today by checking out the latest package holiday deals to Malta and Gozo.