Maltese dishes are strongly influenced by both Italian and Greek cuisine. As a small archipelago in the Mediterranean, farm-to-fork is evident everywhere and often seafood is caught a few hours before it is served. Traditional dishes are rustic with vibrant, fresh Mediterranean flavours and while seafood features heavily, the national dish is a rabbit stew.
Keen to move with the times and cater for a cosmopolitan customer base, the restaurants we visited during a four-night stay featured broad vegan menu offerings too. The trip was in conjunction with the tourist boards for both Malta and Gozo.
Tmun Restaurant, Mgarr Harbour, Gozo
For fancy food, check out Tmun in Mgarr Harbour on Gozo. The chef is Paul Buttigieg. His culinary path started as he watched his mother, Jane create dishes in the first home of Tmun, originally in Xlendi and opened by Jane and Leli Buttigieg. It has since moved to Mgarr Harbour and Paul has taken over the Head Chef position and now runs the restaurant.
He is described as “one of the foremost ambassadors of local cuisine across the Maltese Islands”. The flavours he uses in his dishes reflect the multi-cultural and maritime history of the Maltese archipelago. Gozo is set on the path of one of the oldest maritime trading routes connecting Europe and Asia. As such, his dishes have a strong Mediterranean and Asian influence.
I’m no food critic and I won’t do the place justice so it’s worth mentioning that this place features in the Michelin Guide – if only to highlight the standard of the offering – check it out here.
This is sensational cuisine and a whole experience in itself. The restaurant also offers a sharing menu which looks phenomenal. Book online and remember it opens for dinner from 7 pm on Mon/Thurs/Fri/Sat and for lunch on Mon/Fri/Sat/Sun (closed Tues/Wed).
Gozo Picnic – Xwejni Bay Beach
A silver lining to emerge out of the pandemic, the fabulous Gozo Picnic was born from a love of creating food and picnics. A family business with a big heart, wondrous foodie flair and amazing attention to detail. This is more than a limp sandy sandwich and flat warm drinks by the sea. This is how to do picnics but more than that, how to make a memorable moment – if you were thinking of getting down on one knee against a stunning sunset – this would set the scene – and while Ana can’t guarantee the other person will say yes, if this doesn’t help, nothing will!
Our fam trip group were treated to a spectacular feast on an idyllic beach watching a fiery sunset on Gozo Island. The golden limestone synonymous with the Maltese landscape almost glows as the sun descends behind the island but not before lighting the whole sky in amber hues. Xwejni Rock, a landmark instantly recognisable from the area, adds the finishing touch to the scenery.
The picnic is tailored to the guests, be it a birthday (with cake and decorations), a romantic sunset (with fairy lights) or a family event. There is a choice of menus to choose from including Mediterranean, Vegan or Dim Sum and all are sourced from local and organic ingredients.
Ana creates and serves the dishes to the guests, with cushions, blankets, delf, dishes, fresh flowers and decorations all provided with vibrant style and delicious flavour. The whole setting, service and experience are beautiful. I absolutely loved this – it felt personal, authentic and really connected to the island.
Maldonado Bistro, Victoria, Gozo
Maldonado Bistro located along the rustic backstreets of Victoria in Gozo will be worth it. Their menu is a diverse mix of Mediterranean cuisine with a contemporary twist, using seasonal ingredients sourced directly from local growers and suppliers. As their mantra suggests “We take pride in what we do as we are firm believers in the happiness created by a feat of delicious food” and they live up to it. They serve dinner Mon-Sun from 6.30 pm and also have a Sunday lunch sitting.
Maldonado Bistro is an authentic restaurant in Gozo that both locals and foodies love.
Maldonado Bistro is housed in the basement of a traditional Maltese townhouse with stone arches throughout and is situated on the periphery of the historic centre of Victoria, Gozo. The building is over 300 years old and was once used to rear livestock. The current refurbishment couldn’t be further from its origins with a beautiful, traditional stone wall setting and vibrant, flavourful food. This place also does wine tasting – check it out here.
Ta’ Ċenċ, Il Kantra Lido Bar & Restaurant
The fam trip was treated to a seafood lunch at Il Kantra Lido Bar & Restaurant, caught less than an hour before we ate. I’m not sure you can get fresher than that. Perched right beside the sea with the Maltese sun making the sea glisten. This place opens from April to November and offers uninterrupted views of the Gozo coastline and al fresco dining with a gentle sea breeze a perfect accompaniment to a tasty dish.
More on the Maltese Archipegelo
ITTN’s Shane Cullen travelled to Malta as part of a four-night trade fam in conjunction with Visit Malta and Visit Gozo, spending two nights on the island of Gozo plus two nights in Malta.
For more on the ITTN & Visit Malta/Gozo fam trip or to watch ITTN’s Visit Malta & Gozo Webinar with Peter Green, check out: