Category Archives: Malta

Maltese Mama, St Julian’s Bay

Rewind back a few hours before we were seated at Maltese Mama – it was Valentine’s day, we spent the day exploring Gozo island, then had planned to end our day wandering around the beautiful Mdina and had a nice romantic meal there. There are a good number of restaurants in Mdina, so we didn’t bother to book. Why? Because we decided that, for once, we would be spontaneous about food options. We wouldn’t spend an hour researching where to eat, but would just pick a place and enjoy the meal. Good concept? Yup. Good concept for Valentine’s day dinner? Pure stupidity.

We rocked up to one of the restaurants in Mdina, which looked empty (it was 6pm and not yet dinner time). I poked my head in, and wanted to inquire about the menu. He politely told me he’s really sorry but the restaurant is fully booked out for the evening. “The whole island is booked out Madam. It’s Valentine’s day”. Oh right. Thanks.

I spent the next half an hour mocking the guy “Sorry Ma’am, the whole island is booked out. Ha ha ha”.

Well, the joke is on me. We checked a few other restaurants – they really were fully booked.

“Nevermind” I said, trying hard to keep my spontaneous face from crying, “We will just go back to the hotel and ask them to recommend a place”.

We have experienced something like this before – we were in Bruges and tried to book dinner at a nice restaurant, only to be told they were fully booked. We then asked the hotel to reserve a table for us, and voila! they had a table for two. So now I’m under the impression that restaurants may keep a few tables for their hotel “friends” (or maybe they just had cancellations).

This time, we were staying at a really fancy hotel in Malta – and I thought, SURELY they have plenty of strings they can pull.

The poor concierge guy spent 20 mins on the phone with a number of restaurants. All of them? Chock-a-block.

Accepting our defeat, we asked him to recommend us a pizza place instead. He told us of a place (with pity in his eyes) close-by. We said thank you and left.

I was clearly deflated by this point. I kept telling my hubby we should just have instant noodles in the room, I don’t want to eat pizza. My hubby recognised the symptoms and decided we should go for a walk. I went along, grudgingly.

As it turns out, not the whole island is booked out. There were a few restaurants around the hotel with available tables.

We decided on Maltese Mama because they serve Maltese cuisine, and the restaurant looked homely. The main waiter was very friendly, and kept thanking us for choosing to spend the evening with them.

  • Complimentary nibbles: bruschetta, Maltese sausage, soft cheese, beans dip

  • We ordered one starter to share – mixed seafood stew – mussels, octopus, calamari, prawns in delicious sauce. Fresh seafood. Yum. But wait, there’s more (literally) – read on.

  • Main #1 – rabbit stew. Local delicacies – tender portions of rabbit in delicious brown stew sauce. What does rabbit meat taste like? Chicken. So if you think bunnies are too cute to eat, then don’t worry you’re not missing out.
  • Main #2 – EXACTLY the same as our starter, but bigger portion. They have different names on the menu, and I wish the guy who took our order recognised that they’re the same dish and told us! I mean, we loved the starter, but it doesn’t mean I want a double repeat portion. Fail.

  • Complimentary sides – roast potatoes (a bit soggy), mushroom and courgette

Maltese Mama is a lovely restaurant, with friendly waiting staff. Just double check you’re not ordering the same dish for starter and main like we did.

 

Ir-Rizzu, Marsaxlokk

We were in Malta for a long weekend, driving around taking in all the sights, seeing magnificent prehistoric structures, and enjoying the food. The weather was quite gloomy the whole time we were there, except for the last day when the sun decided to come out to play.

We decided to drive all the way to the south-east end of the island to a fishing village called Marsaxlokk.

This place is full of restaurants, all serving amazing looking seafood. We wandered around the market for a bit, tried the local date patries (yum), then decided it was time for lunch.

The first restaurant we went to was full.

And so was the second one.

I was getting nervous. I don’t want to be in this beautiful fishing village and have to go back to the airport and have McDonald’s!

The third restaurant we went too were also quite busy, but the owner (or waiter) said he’ll have a table for us in few minutes. We could tell he was trying to kick out these two girls who seem to have been there for a while. But he didn’t have the guts to actually do it (not that we condone such actions) and he kept telling us to wait a few minutes. So when he looked away, I sneaked over to the restaurant next door and asked if they have a table for two. The restaurant was also busy, but the waitress said yes she can get us a table. I told her I’d be right back.

I went back out and told my hubby to sneak away quietly & quickly. We looked so much like criminals I tell you.

The restaurant is very cosy and has a family seafood restaurant feel to it. I don’t know exactly how to describe the feel, but we love it.

  • Starters – bread, beans, eggplant dip, and bruschetta (dripping with oil)

  • Seafood platter – grilled prawns, octopus, razor clams, mussels, stuffed squid, and mixed-seafood cake. Fresh seafood, with fresh lemon juice squeezed over – you’re in heaven

  • Our favourite pasta dish – spaghetti alla vongole (spaghetti with clams). Pasta cooked al-dente perfect. Plenty of clams. A bit too much olive oil, but otherwise it’s fantastic. Love love love

Unfortunately we did not have time for dessert, but their dessert cabinet looked good!

The owner guy is this chubby old Italian-looking guy. The whole time we were there, he just sat there writing out bills for each table, oblivious to anything that goes on around him. Really friendly & really cute!

Menu, location, etc: http://ir-rizzu.com/

Il Galeone, Sliema

We stumbled upon this restaurant as we were browsing for a dinner place in Sliema. What attracted us to the restaurant was the fact that nobody was standing outside with a menu trying to drag us in. We could take our time looking at the menu and decided without being pressured.

Il Galeone is a small cosy restaurant serving homely Italian food.

The food was nice & fresh – but could do with a little more salt.

  • Complimentary Bruschetta seems to be the norm in Malta – here the bread is perfectly toasted, light & crispy topped with chopped onions, tomatoes, and herb dressing. Served with pickled olives.
  • Soup of the day – so delicious and takes us back to the many Ligurian vegetable soups we had in Cinque Terre. Chunky vegetables cooked to perfect tenderness, slightly on the oily side, but apparently olive oil is good for you, no?

  • Simple bacon pasta with herbs – bits of fried bacon (you can’t go wrong with a bacon dish) nestled between perfectly cooked spaghetti. I don’t know how restaurants do this – I always struggle to serve my pasta with good meat-noodles ratio (first serving = lots of pasta, last serving = lots of meat). Simple & yummy. However, it’s very oily – there’s a pool of oil at the bottom of the bowl that freaked us out a little. Time for olive-oil-is-good-for-you chants again.
  • Scampi cooked in tomato base sauce – lots of little scampi in delicious tangy sauce. Finally a dish that’s not oily.
  • Side dish of baked potatoes & vegetables

They’re not the most amazing Italian food in the world, but I recommend it if you’re looking for a relaxing & romantic place for dinner that’s not touristy.

Menu, location, etc: http://www.ilgaleonemalta.com/