Holiday in Malta – Malta Restaurants and Traditional Maltese Food
The island of Malta is typically Mediterranean, especially when it comes to food and wine. In Malta, one can find a vast array of restaurants, cafés and take-outs that range from typical Maltese food, to Japanese sushi and Oriental Cuisine.
Maltese cuisine itself is rustic and seasonal. 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. The sweet that is most often coupled with the rabbit is the ‘Helwa tat-Tork’ which is a sweet sugary mixture of crushed and whole almonds. 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!
‘Lampuki Pie’ is another dish that should be looked out for when visiting the islands and is basically a typical Maltese seasonal fish pie. Other interesting dishes are the Widow’s Soup (consisting of vegetables and Maltese goat cheeselets) and ‘Brajoli’ (stuffed beef rolls). Two extremely popular snacks that can be found in the majority of bars and cafés throughout Malta and Gozo are ‘Hobz biz-zejt’ and ‘pastizzi’. Hobz biz-zejt is literally translated as ‘bread with oil’ and is usually made with typical Maltese bread that is dipped in oil, spread with tomato paste, and filled with anything from tuna, olives, capers, onions and the like. Pastizzi (cheese-cakes) are ricotta-filled pastries that are fried and served warm. These can be bought from small specialized vendors that litter most of the streets in Malta and Gozo.
The love for Mediterranean flavours such as olives, tomatoes, olive oil and bread has led to the opening of several Malta wine bars, particularly in the characteristic towns of Valletta and Birgu. It is the perfect occasion to sip wine, while snacking on a cheese platter, cold cuts platter, dips or Maltese platter. Although Malta may not be renowned for wine production, the Maltese wines have been extremely successful in international competitions, winning several accolades in France, Italy and further afield. Maltese beer has also been awarded several prizes in international competitions and should definitely be considered when visiting one of our several bars.
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. Many wineries have begun to organise guided tours and tastings. Depending on the season, tours may cover the entire production from the initial fermentation through to the ageing process. They also include wine history museums and opportunities to taste and buy a variety of vintages.
Many of the restaurants on the island specialize in typical Mediterranean food, particularly Italian. Thus, pizza, pasta and seafood are probably one of the most common finds in most Maltese Restaurants. 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 the Marsaxlokk market every Sunday morning, where local fishermen display their fish to be sold for Sunday lunch!
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.
Café 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, 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.