Delicious. Affordable. Full of flavour.
As you may have read, I was recently in Malta on holidays with my best friend for a short summer getaway. Lorna and I had a truly wonderful time, relaxing, taking in the sights and eating a lot of delicious Maltese cuisine. Eating out in a country or city you’ve never been to before can be a challenge, because a bad meal can really leave a bad taste when on holidays. So that’s why today’s blog post is all about the best restaurants & cafés I discovered while in Malta. Here are the Top 5 places to eat that Cookie FM recommends!
Catch up on my Holiday Diary and guide to Malta
My friend John had recommended Peperoncino – and I am so happy I added it to my list! The menu was so varied, it was hard to decide on just one starter and main, but eventually I ordered the Beef Carpaccio followed by the Suckling Pig, which was that evening’s special. We were offered Maltese bread and a garlic butter to start, which was a nice beginning to the meal.
Beef Carpaccio is one of my favourite dishes, and I don’t eat it too often so I was very excited to have ordered this. The portion was plentiful, and as the beef is cut so thinly, it’s an extremely enjoyable dish without feeling full. The cured flavour alone was just fantastic, enhanced by its own marinade and served atop by parmesan shavings and below with fresh rocket. This in particular was well complimented by the red wine we ordered, a Maltese bottle of Falcon Merlot.
When our mains arrived, I sure was in for a surprise. The Suckling Pig was an impressive dish; three pieces of slow roasted piglet, served with its own crackling, a side of vegetables & potatoes, and a gravy. I cannot get over how delicious this all was; the pork was succulent and full of flavour, intensified by the gravy and well-rounded by the vegetables. The crackling was especially fun and added a great texture contrast, and was also well complimented by the wine. I was truly defeated by this pig though, as I couldn’t finish my dinner but I would easily come back just for this!
For me, this was the standout dinner & meal while in Malta. The staff was wonderful & very accommodating, the manager even offered us a nicer table in the main dining room after our initial table on the upstairs indoor terrace. The restaurant is very spacious with both their outdoor terraces and their main dining room. Overall the vibe within this rustic restaurant was lovely.
VISIT PEPERONCINO, 8 TRIQ IL-BAJJA, BALLUTA BAY, ST. JULIAN’S, MALTA // WEBSITE // CALL +356 2138 8872
2. Gululu Kcina Maltija
When we arrived back to St. Julian’s after our long day exploring the Gozo & Comino Islands, we were very hungry! We stopped into Gululu Kcina Maltija after researching and discovering it was voted Best Restaurant for Maltese Cuisine 2017. We nabbed a table in the inside dining room with a view out to the terrace and Spinola Bay. Myself and Lorna actually had the exact same orders (great minds think alike!); we both opted for the Ġbejna Moqlija to start, followed by the Spaghetti biz-Zalza tal-Klamari. Our wonderful waitress asked if we’d like to order the Negroni cocktail each, a classic Maltese apéritif, which we did! It was strong and bitter, though Lorna enjoyed it more than I did.
The Ġbejna Moqlija starters arrived in good time, with large but well-portioned servings. Ġbejna are traditional Maltese cheeselets but these ones were deep-fried, served with a tomato chutney, candied walnuts and a rocket salad. The Ġbejna was sublime. It had a fiery pepper coating before being breadcrumb and deep-fried, that was perfectly matched by the sweet chutney, rocket and walnuts. I could happily eat an entire plate of this deep-fried cheese!
There was little waiting time in between the two dishes, during which we enjoyed our rosé wine, eagerly looking forward to the main course. The presentation of the Spaghetti biz-Zalza tal-Klamari was rather interesting, as we were slightly taken aback by the calamari. Having only ever eaten calamari rings, the tentacles were a new experience for us both, but we just got on with it and ate our pasta dish – and it was delicious! The flavours of the tomatoes, the garlic and white wine with the squid go exquisitely together, and as a pasta dish it’s truly filling.
This was such a satisfying meal full of Maltese flavours and traditions. We had ordered a bottle of the Les Tournesols Rosé D’Anjou, which was absolutely beautiful, light & refreshing and complimented our mains very well. The standard was very high and the service in Gululu was superb; the staff was very friendly and accommodating – big shout out to our waitress Michaela!
VISIT GULULU KCINA MALTIJA,133 TRIQ SPINOLA, ST. JULIAN’S, MALTA // WEBSITE // CALL +356 2133 3431
3. Paul’s Seabreeze
On our first night in Malta, we walked down to the Balluta Bay, and nabbed a bay side table at Paul’s Seabreeze for dinner. Here the menu was plentiful, full of tasty-sounding choices. We opted for the Paul’s Sharing Platter as a starter and for my main I ordered the Grilled Tuna Steak, with a bottle of white wine between us.
Waiting time from ordering to our starter arriving was short, perfect for hungry tummies. The Paul’s Sharing Platter consisted of the traditional Maltese Ġbejna cheese & Galletti water crackers, along with parma ham, cucumber, tomatoes, olives, sun-dried tomatoes and a dressed salad. Everything on this platter was delicious, and worked very well with each other. I was very impressed by the Ġbejna cheese, creamy and full of flavour. This is a great starter to share between 2-3 people.
I always get excited when ordering tuna steak in restaurants, and this Grilled Tuna Steak dish did not disappoint. A large piece of well seasoned, perfectly seared & cooked tuna, served with a portion of chips and a fresh salad. The fish had that perfect meaty consistency, but with the obvious fish flavour and scents, enhanced by its herb & spice seasoning. Every bite of the tuna was heavenly, and I polished off my plate without regrets. I could have eaten that plate over and over again it was that good! With a fabulous evening view across the bay, excellent service and value, I would highly recommend stopping in for your next meal!
VISIT PAUL’S SEABREEZE, GEORGE BORG OLIVIER STREET, ST. JULIAN’S, MALTA // WEBSITE // CALL +356 2136 6169
Upon arrival to Malta and St. Julian’s, we checked-in to our hotel then headed into the town for lunch. We stopped into Raffael, due to its good prices, variety of food and stunning views across Spinola Bay. Here I ordered the Bruschetta Maltese and we shared a ½ bottle of the Palazzo Verdala white wine. The bruschetta was quite a generous portion; three large pieces of toasted Maltese bread topped with an array of chopped tomatoes, onions, basil, olives & Extra Virgin olive oil. Delicious, fresh and the right amount of food to perk us up after our early morning flight.
The next day, after a long day of sightseeing, we returned to Raffael for dinner. We were lucky to nab a table on the upper terrace as it was very busy – even at 10pm! On this occasion we skipped the starters and went straight for mains; I opted for the Farfalle al Salmone, as I had a sudden craving for pasta and was intrigued by the vodka ingredient of this dish. The dishes arrived in good time, and the smells were beautiful. Made with smoked salmon, fresh cream, vodka, lemon zest, butter and topped with caviar, this sure was a unique and very tasty dish. The flavours really complimented one another, the salmon was fresh and well-enhanced by the lemon and caviar. It was such a comforting meal!
For both our lunch and dinner at this restaurant, we sat out on the terrace with a wonderful view across Spinola Bay. We enjoyed a bottle of the Palazzo Verdala Sauvignon Blanc on both occasions too, a beautiful, refreshing and light white wine. The service was excellent, as was the value for money.
VISIT RAFFAEL, TRIQ IX XATT TA SPINOLA, ST. JULIAN’S, MALTA // WEBSITE // CALL +356 2135 2000
5. Riva Reno
For our last full day, myself and Lorna decided on a more special breakfast, especially as we weren’t impressed with our hotel offerings. Lorna had researched that Italian Riva Reno was the best for gelato in Malta, and luckily there was a café a few minutes from our hotel. We each had the Waffle & Gelato; I opted for the cioccolato (chocolate) and strawberry sauce. This was just divine! Such a delicious start to the day, and filling too. The waffle was soft and doughy but still had the right bite to it, the ice cream velvety and full of flavour, and the sauce brought it altogether. I would happily have this for breakfast every Saturday!
VISIT Riva Reno, 4 &5 Ross Street, ST. JULIAN’S, MALTA // WEBSITE // CALL+356 2789 0177
Images © Nirina Plunkett