Maltese cuisine. A nation who’s food comprises a mix of influences from it’s rich, colourful history. Arabic, Italian, French, Spanish..
I expected great things. And it is safe to say that I was not disappointed.
Whilst in Malta I made sure to eat at many a restaurant, as many as I could manage each day. One of the biggest parts of travelling for me is to enjoy the food of a country as much as the sites.
Here are three of the places I enjoyed eating at most. I can’t say I had a bad meal the whole time I was there but these three particularly stand out above the rest.
You’ll find Commando on the main street running through Mellieha, towards the north of Malta. Situated towards the edge of town near the church at the top of the hill in a 300 year old stone building overlooking the sea in the distance.
Owned by chef Damian Ciappara, this small restaurant offers a relaxed fine dining atmosphere. As soon as you enter Commando you are greeted by warm, friendly staff and are made to feel welcome. Even if you do arrive rather late into the evening like we did! The interior is elegant and chic, yet delightfully relaxed. You will be certain to find locals out to dinner, which for me says enough about what to expect from the meal.
The menu is refreshing and well thought out; offering dishes made from fresh local ingredients as well as daily specials. As far as I am concerned, that is what matters most when I am looking for somewhere to eat. Local dishes, made well, using local ingredients. At Commando the menu comprises of two main elements. Firstly there were the traditional dishes such as ‘Aljotta’ (a local fish soup), sea urchin risotto and homemade ‘Mqaret’ (a local date filled dessert wrapped in pastry and deep fried).
Then there were classic French dishes which displayed the chef’s training under Michelin starred chefs. This classical element shone through with local touches being added to make it chef’s own in dishes like the chicken liver pate with toasted brioche and local grape jam, the pan roasted fillet of veal served with truffle barley risotto and the chocolate fondant with a hazelnut ice cream. There were many more on the menu that clearly displayed traditional French cooking techniques but it was the little added Maltese ingredients that made it special.
The full menu can be found here. An exceptional example of classic fine dining with a local twist.
Misraħ Iz-Żjara tal-Papa, Mellieha MLH 1080
+356 2152 3459
Rebekah’s restaurant is also situated in Mellieha, tucked off the main street.
Some of the best places I’ve eaten are those that are hidden away and only the locals know about. This is one of those places.
Nestled down some side streets, Rebekah’s is situated inside an old restored house and offers a romantic, rustic charm. The beamed ceilings of the main dining room gave a really relaxed, homely feel to the place, yet it is still open and spacious due to the high ceilings. There is also a pretty little courtyard which would have been lovely to sit out in on a sunny afternoon.
I loved the laid back atmosphere despite offering an elegant, high end dining experience. This was complimented by the staff who were incredibly polite, friendly and knowledgeable about the food they were serving and were only too happy to help.
The menu offered a great selection of fresh seafood and other local ingredients. Just the kind of things I like to see on a menu. Confit pork belly, langoustine, steamed seabass, king prawn & mint caviar, pan roast salmon, prawn carpaccio, lobster, ham hock tortellaci, rabbit ragu, local widows soup, aljotta…you are spoilt for choice.
The food is excellently cooked, beautifully presented and incredibly reasonably priced. If you aren’t staying in Mellieha fear not. They offer free transport to and from your hotel, just make sure to call and book in advance!
12,, Triq it-Tgħam, Il-Mellieħa MLH 1472, Malta
+356 2152 1145
When in the capital, seek out this fabulous little bistro for a spot of lunch.
If you can’t get a table inside (it’s always fairly busy!) then hopefully there will be space free on one of the tables just out front on the cobbled street, where you will get to do a spot of people watching whilst you feast on your lunch. If its a bright warm day, then I would definitely recommend sitting outside as the street is sheltered from most of the sunshine so you get to relax out of direct heat yet enjoy a lovely passing breeze.
Inside the bistro the style is a little arty, with some of the pieces being available for purchase should you see something that takes your fancy.
The staff are incredibly friendly, always stopping to have a chat and make you laugh, yet offer quick and efficient service.
The menu is updated regularly and also offers daily specials. Yet again, we weren’t short of choice when it came to deciding what to have! Ham hock ballotine, scallop ceviche, chicken & pancetta croquettes, chicken liver parfait, broccoli pesto, spaghetti gamberi, rigatoni saltimbocca, risotto of rabbit, I could go on. But seeing as we were in Malta I had to make sure to try their national ingredient of rabbit at least once and in risotto form sounded ideal to me.
Whatever you choose, you can guarantee it will be freshly cooked to perfection.
8, South St, Valletta VLT 110, Malta
+356 2122 0357
So there you have it, the best places to eat in Malta, or at least..my favourite places to eat Malta!