We didn’t have any culinary expectations from Malta and the near-by Gozo… I’ll tell you more: we were a bit afraid!
I remember that when I was on Malta in 2002 there was this English breakfasts with baked beans, bacon and poached eggs in my hotel, and we got a bit scared when one of our friends had told us that food on Malta is rather uninteresting and Brit-friendly, as there are many Brits on Malta. But we thought: we’ll see for ourselves! Maybe we’ll manage to find something different…
We spend only one day of our journey on Malta, so it was Gozo that’s given us a culinary thrill! Unfortunately, it was a short stay, less than a week-long, so we didn’t have the chance to try everything… So, here are our impressions from the culinary journey around Gozo 🙂
After the first few days we’ve noticed that the cuisine on Gozo is divided into 3 main areas: the local dishes, various but usually with rabbit, the widespread Italian cuisine and seafood, also very common in restaurants.
Obviously, we’ve started with the local cuisine.
Rabbit, or fenek. It’s present in the menu of almost every restaurant – prepared in various ways. Fried, grilled or baked. You can start with the rabbit liver, big dumplings furnaretti stuffed with rabbit meat, or spaghetti with rabbit sauce. You absolutely have to try it, however, you might not like it, depending on your individual preferences, because the meat has a very specific taste. I preferred the rabbit furnaretti, Łukasz enjoyed the liver and Maks… of course loved the penne pasta with rabbit sauce.
I recommend trying aljotta, or the fish soup – quite filling and thick, with seafood and rice. It’s probably more suitable for late dinner than lunch when it’s 40 degrees outside…
When in Gozo, you absolutely have to try bragioli, or scaloppini, usually with beef but sometimes also with veal. The meat is usually stuffed with cooked eggs and bacon, rolled, and then stewed in red wine… Bragioli is also available in most restaurants – we had a delicious bragioli in the family restaurant Tal Furnar in Xaghra.
Out of local specialities you should also try cheese, usually with lots of herbs, or black pepper. The most common and original ones are small and round, all covered in black pepper. They’re hard, salty and very spicy. You should definitely give them a chance, however, we preferred the herbal ones or these without spices, suitable for breakfast… They’re great with the delicious, sweet tomatoes from Gozo… Sundried tomatoes are also a good option!
And after tasting local specialities you should try bajtra – a distinctively pink opuntia liqueur with honey and herbs. It’s quite light and refreshing when served with ice after a big meal on a roasting day.
After trying the local cuisine we focused on pasta and seafood. You can find pasta and pizza in almost every restaurant on Gozo – I must admit, it made me happy: I love pasta and, moreover, Maks loves pasta, and this basically solved the problem of feeding our little one, especially that many restaurants offer a kids’ menu. In the category “pasta and other” there are many types of ravioli, very popular on Gozo – with cheese, fish, vegetables. In some places it’s as delicious almost like the original Italian ravioli, so it’s worth trying…
Pastas we had during our week-long stay on Gozo represented various standards, but we didn’t come across any disasters. We had the most delicious pasta at Beppe’s in Marsalforn and at Tal Furnar in Xaghra, but these places deserve more than just a short remark in this post 😉 Pastas can be served as starters (quite large portions) and as main courses. Prices range from EUR 5 (also for a main course if it’s i.e. penne pomodoro) to about EUR 12-15 (main course, with seafood, etc.)
One more thing about seafood: I wouldn’t be me if hadn’t had grilled calamari – it’s probably one of my favourite summer starters. We’ve also tried mussels and clams, and we had fish. The standards of fish were very diversified: from the absolutely disgusting fish in It-Tokk on Pjazza Independenza in Victorii to the gorgeous, mouth-watering, best-so-far tuna in Imgarr Ix Ixini.
And what about sweets? I’ve showed mqaret, one of the typical Gozo sweet, here… Ghaqaq ta’l-ghasel, or a black treacle pretzel is also worth trying out. You can buy it in a bakery or a supermarket – it’s perfect for breakfast. Unfortunately, we don’t have any pictures (the morning hunger ;)) but you can see it e.g. here.
However, we usually skipped deserts on Gozo, probably because the portions were so big that they didn’t leave any space for desert; after a starter, even if we split it between us, and a main course we were full… But I wouldn’t be me if I hadn’t tried a chocolate soufflé when I had the chance… 🙂
We’ve dinned in various places on Gozo, with various styles, standards, service, prices… We managed to discover two, maybe even three places that we’d definitely like to come back to and that fulfil our criteria of a good restaurant, although they’re very different from each other… And you’ll soon discover what does a “good restaurant” mean to us on the example of Gozo, but enough about treats for now 😉