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English
Monday 8th January, 2024

Eating out in Malta

By Mad Harper

Eating out

The heart of Malta's thriving nightlife scene is St Julians which lies about a half hour north of the capital city of Valletta. This is where the three main casinos are all located – Casino Malta, Portomaso and Dragonara – and the area is heaving with great places to eat out. With all amenities right on the doorstep, it’s no surprise that St Julians is the #1 destination for poker players. Valletta is also a great place to visit in the evenings with numerous lovely restaurants and bars.

St Julian’s

Peppinos – Located just five minutes’ walk from Portomaso Casino and ten minutes from Casino Malta, this highly-rated Italian restaurant offers great food and friendly service. Owner and host Paci is a real character. Top tip: ask for a waterside table on the top floor for spectacular views of the bay.

 

Caviar & Bull – located on the north side of St George’s Bay (around 20 minutes’ walk from Portomaso Casino), Caviar & Bull is a glamorous Michelin Guide restaurant that is a noted gastro hotspot. The brainchild of Maltese celebrity chef Marvin Gauci, this luxurious eaterie offers an exciting menu that fuses colour, texture, scent and taste.

Paranga is the Intercontinental Hotel’s popular beachside restaurant in St Julian’s. Located in a prime location right on the water’s edge – with tables inside or out – Paranga is a fabulous place to have lunch or dinner. Local fishermen deliver fresh fish and shellfish daily and the menu offers an array of diverse Sicilian flavours.

Sotto Pinsa St Julians is a friendly and stylish pizzeria specializing in Pinsa Romana, a Roman-style pizza crust that is an upgrade from traditional pizza. Highly recommended by players (and also currently ranked #1 for St Julian’s restaurants on Trip Advisor), Sotto Pinsa is known for amazing pizzas, porchetta and prosciutto plus great service and lovely local wine.

Zest Flavours gets the thumbs-up from practically everyone – including the Michelin Guide. Described as “absolutely amazing Thai food”, this mixed fusion/sushi restaurant boasts some of the best Asian and Continental cuisine in Malta, including sushi. Attractive features include an open wine cellar and a sushi bar on the restaurant floor where guests can watch their food being prepared. Located on the first floor of Hotel Juliani, Zest has an open-air, terrace bar overlooking romantic Spinola Bay.

Blue Elephant – Another highly recommended Thai restaurant and VERY handy for players at Portomaso Casino is the exotically decorated Blue Elephant restaurant in the Hilton. The restaurant is described as “a tranquil oasis of waterfalls, luscious greenery and tropical flowers” and, décor-wise, there is certainly a lot going on! You should have time to enjoy a great meal here during dinner breaks but do make sure you book.

Steakhouse Lore & Fitch is one of Steven van Zadelhoff’s top recommendations and it also gets rave reviews on Tripadvisor. Launched by two brothers from Sicily, Lore & Fitch attracts tourists and locals alike and booking ahead is vital. As well as its acclaimed steaks, Lore & Fitch also serves a wide range of salads, burgers and pasta dishes along with great cocktails. Try to book a table on the balcony because you get great views of the harbour.

Hugo’s Pizza & Pasta - if you’re hanging out in Paceville, it will be hard to miss the name “Hugo”, a now extensive entertainment empire, all launched by the indefatigable Hugo Chetcuti. There’s Hugo’s Lounge, Hugo’s Pub, Hugo’s Terrace and Hugo's Pizza & Pasta. The latter is a great dining destination if you’re out with the family or friends. And it’s not your bog standard spaghetti fare either! Many of the dishes have a fusion twist and extravagant ingredients like truffle cream or oyster mushrooms.

Peperoncini is a pretty restaurant in Balluta Bay offering first-class service and good quality Maltese, Sicilian and Italian food. Located in an old townhouse, Peperoncino was opened in 2005 by Miroslav Radonjic and Carla Peralta and has a very welcoming and friendly atmosphere. The inside dining area is decorated in a traditional yet stylish way while the small, charming outdoor terrace offers lovely views over Balluta Bay.

Zeri’s Restaurant is located in the heart of up-market Portomaso with spectacular views of the glamorous marina. Owner/chef Mark Zeri takes pride in his work, serving excellent food with a Mediterranean influence. It’s a fantastic location with food and service to match.

The Avenue isn’t fine dining, but it’s a busy, bustling restaurant and open until 10pm – so it’s a good option if you want somewhere to head after a stint at the poker tables. There is a wide range of starters, pasta, meat, pizza, fish, and vegetarian dishes, along with antipasti and soups. It’s good value and they also offer a useful takeaway delivery service.

Beyond St Julian’s

With spacious terraces offering spectacular views of Valletta across the harbour – dubbed “one of the finest views of Europe”, Chophouse is another favourite (pictured below) with both Malta residents and visitors. The restaurant has a great choice of succulent steaks and fresh fish grilled on its giant charcoal grill. Selected cuts of Aberdeen Angus and Scottona beef from Italy are dry-aged in-house. More than 200 different wines are stored in the huge glass-fronted cellar.

Legligin - located just a block away from the historic Manoel Theatre in Valletta, is a favourite with poker player Gary Banks and presenter Laura Cornelius. This cosy, rustically-decorated restaurant offers authentic Maltese cuisine with a tasting menu featuring 6-8 different small dishes. Legligin is a Maltese word for glugging down a drink and the restaurant’s array of delicious wines are kept in holes in the walls; when you order a bottle, the owner quaintly plucks it out of the wall and serves it straight to your glass. 

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