Although Malta is incredibly small, one can find a vast array of restaurants, cafes and take-outs that range from typical Maltese food, to Japanese sushi and Oriental Cuisine.
Expensive 5-star restaurants are present in many localities such as Sliema, Mellieha, Mdina and Valletta. In these cases, cuisine varies. Many of the restaurants on the Maltese island specialize in typical Mediterranean food, particularly Italian (seafood, pasta, meat). One great element here is the mix of Mediterranean recipes with Maltese ingredients since most of the vegetables, meat and fruits are locally cultivated and freshly selected. The variety of the fish found in Maltese waters can be appreciated at most restaurants, having been purchased that same morning from the local fisherman. These restaurants usually encompass incredible venues, mouth-watering food and, of course, excellent service.
Although there are a few high-class restaurants that specialize in typical Maltese food, there are many occasions were Maltese food is prepared at its best in more casual surroundings. Local pubs, known as ‘kazini’ often serve excellent examples of Maltese food, such as “Hobz biz-zejt”. Hobz biz-zejt is literally translated as ‘bread with oil’ and is usually made with traditional Maltese bread that is dipped in oil, spread with tomato paste, and filled with anything from tuna, olives, capers, onions and the like.
One very popular year-round meal is the ‘Fenkata’, where Maltese families go to very casual and usually small specialized bars and restaurants in order to eat a meal of rabbit. This is usually made up of a first course of spaghetti with rabbit sauce, followed by rabbit (usually fried in garlic and tomatoes), and finally nuts and sweets. Another dish that is sometimes served before rabbit, but can also be found in many typical Maltese restaurants, is ‘Bebbux’. Bebbux is the Maltese word for snails, which is a delicacy in Malta. When visiting Malta or Gozo, be sure to give this a try!
Little take-away outlets are also very popular and here, you can satisfy your hungry for just a few Euro! Most of these take-outs are no more than a few square meters large, with enough room for an oven and counter. These sell “pastizzi”, pizza by the slice, pies and sausage rolls. Pastizzi (cheese-cakes) are extremely popular in Malta and are ricotta-filled pastries that are fried and served warm. These can be bought from such small specialized vendors that litter most of the streets in Malta and Gozo.
Oriental cuisine and sushi is also very well accounted for throughout the island. Most common are the typical Chinese restaurants which specialize in dishes such as spring rolls and wontons, egg fried rice, noodles, sweet and sour pork, duck and so on. Sushi and Japanese cuisine has also become popular over the past years and can be purchased from both takeaway outlets, or in formal elegant restaurants. The Palace Hotel’s ‘TemptAsian’ is a unique establishment that groups together all Oriental cuisine into one elegant restaurant with a menu to die for.
Pizzerias and other casual restaurants that serve pasta, pizza, salads, meat and so on, can be found all over the island. Prices vary, and are suitable for everyone’s pockets. These restaurants are ideal for families whose taste is diverse since the menus are often extremely versatile! Furthermore, they often cater for both lunch and dinner.
Cafe life, particularly in towns like Valletta and Sliema, is extremely popular and provides the shopper, business man, or passerby the perfect opportunity to sip a hot cappuccino, ice-cold mojito or chilled glass of wine, accompanied but a light salad, plate of pasta, platter, sushi, or perhaps a divine dessert, while basking in the Mediterranean sun. Some cafés have developed such a name for themselves due to one particular item on the menu, that people go out of their way just to tickle their taste buds!
Wine Bars have become incredibly popular over the past few years. International grape varieties grown on the Islands include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Grenache, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Carignan, Chenin Blanc and Moscato. The indigenous varieties are Gellewza and Ghirghentina, which are producing some excellent wines of distinct body and flavour. You can visit these candle-lit venues and enjoy fine wine, coupled with excellent dips and platters, including Maltese and Mediterranean delicacies, cold-cuts and cheeses as well as mouth-watering fresh bread.