May 11, 2014

Malta’s best eateries according to moi – Part 1

Baia beach, Malta

Baia beach, Malta

Often I am asked by people where to lunch/dine out in Malta and since its basically already summer in Malta here are my favourite haunts in Malta and Gozo. Disclaimer – This is truly my opinion and yes you might see me there. There is no ranking/order in the below and I do not get any freebies/free meals either. 🙂


Baia Beach – Little Armier Beach (Mellieha)

One of the most stunning restaurant locations in Malta. Relax with a glass of crisp Sauvignon Blanc whilst nibbling on Mediterranean goodies. Arriving by boat? No problem. Drop the anchor and they will come and fetch you with their dinghy and take you back to your boat after you’re done. Bliss!

Grabiel Restaurant – Marsascala

One of the best fish restaurants in the south run by Giovanni, Mario, Paul and Karmenu. The latter are all brothers and experts in veritable fish feasts. Try the local “Rossi shrimps” and if you want fish ask for “Gurbell” or “Ciapulazz.” Portions are gargantuan and big eaters will love a plate of “pasta vongole”  (pasta with clams) or “nero,” the latter done with fresh squid ink. This is a good first stop in Malta as Karmenu will give you a list of who is who in Malta together with the latest gossip and political intrigue. They also love talking about their nephew who apparently did quite well for himself…

Tarragon Restaurant – St. Paul’s Bay

Marvin has created a charming restaurant in the heart of the picturesque sea side village of St. Paul’s Bay. The décor is tasteful and it includes sizeable aquariums with lobsters  intended for cooking of course. The staff is attentive, so much so that they run around with “star trek type” ear pieces to make sure that they are in constant touch with the kitchen. Whether you’re out for some “molecular food preparation” or some good old plain fish this multi award winning restaurant is also a must! Ask for the raw appetizers and for an “al sale” prepared fish.


De Mondion Restaurant – Xara Palace, Mdina

In the second world war this building was apparently used as a residence for the allied ace pilots. Legend has it that the Luftwaffe pilot knew this and it wasn’t uncommon for them to strafe its beautiful, historical terrace with bullets… Nowadays Xara Palace is a 5 star boutique hotel with an amazing restaurant specializing in French/Maltese cuisine. It is not cheap but the excellent food, service and extensive wine list makes experiencing this restaurant a must. Ask for a table on the terrace so that you can enjoy the view of multiple village fireworks. The rabbit menu washed down by a bottle of St Emilion is especially delicious!


Kartell Restaurant – Marsalforn, Gozo

I have been going to this restaurant, right on the water’s edge of Gozo’s main seaside resort of Marsalforn since the age of 10. The location is literally on the water and Philip, the owner,  a gracious and efficient host. Fare is predominantly Mediterranean although do ask for the Gozitan cheese and Maltese “Awwista.” Not the first time that I ended up serenading the guests impromptu at this restaurant accompanied by Pawlu Carbonaro, one of Malta’s finest post war artists. Ask for a taste of Gozitan local wine from the “Ta’ Mena” estate especially the Vermentino!




Xara Palace De Mondion Restaurant

Xara Palace De Mondion Restaurant




  1. alfred p. camenzuli

    Hi Joseph,

    Agree with you on the above, but would like to add TARTARUN(Marsaxlokk), Chinese Tavern (Marsa) and OKURA (Japanese) in Pacevile.

    Following you all the way on FB. Keep it up. You make us so proud of you.

    Would like to meet you some day when you are in Malta.

    Sincere regards,

  2. David Pritchard

    Barracuda? The Arches? Il Panzier. Three of my favourites and for the beach, Ghan Tuffia beach shack, best beach and good food/ atmosphere…

    • Susan

      Hi David
      Can you tell me exactly where this beach shack is? Tried to google it but can’t find it.

  3. billy

    I agree with all of these restaurants.

    But I was so impressed by the Bouquet Garni Restaurant,4, Gorg Borg Olivier Street, Mellieha. It was one of those places you happen across by accident. But It’s now my absolute favourite.

  4. Hi Joseph, I agree with you Baia Beach, Tarragon and Xara Palace they are absolutely fantastic, thank you for your recommendations I will have to try the other 2 out and let you know 😉 I also agree with Billy Bouquet Garni really lovely restaurant and may I say if you want a restaurant with a good home cooking, great service and the ambience to make you feel right at home then try Ix Xatba in Mellieha and Churchills in Qawra both are equally as good and give you great value for money and really fantastic food!

  5. Sara Munday

    Oh, I so want to go to Malta! I’ve wanted to go for years and everything you write makes me more and more keen…

  6. Simone Camilleri

    Re Grabiel, I like the bit about the nephew! How well you describe Karmenu. We’ve been going there for years. I’m always asking for ‘not so much,please’.Always tops!

    I am very impressed by Il Gabbiano at Marsalforn and also Zephir, the San Andrea Hotel restaurant in Xlendi.

    So many extremely good restaurants nowadays. I remember the times when it was so difficult to have a good meal out. We have really come a long way.

  7. George

    I agree with you on all and I hope that on your next visit to Gozo you would try to eat at L’Ankra down at L’Mgarr Harbour. The front restaurant manager Gino and John Paul the chef are so welcoming and the food is tops.

    Have a great day Malta’s best ambassador.


  8. Indeed we have some wonderful restaurants in Malta.We have never been disappointed with the standards regardless where we’ve eaten.We have frequented some but not all the restaurants by yourself and others on the blog.Recently stayed in Sliema and had some very good food there, sadly never took note of the names,but I have made notes of all your recommendations for next time.I only wish that more restaurants will sell more of our first class delicious wines albeit some are pricey…Im a firm believer in “You get what you pay for”

    Thanks Joe,You’re a great guy…very proud of you.

  9. Patricia Dixon

    I have passed Grabiels on my way to my favourite Bar in Marsascala, I have an apartment close by and I have walked passed this Restaurant many times, I will now try it when I’m back next week…

  10. Thank you JOSEPH

    Just to let you know that you have a frebeeeeeeeeeeeeee waiting for you at the Il-Kartell Restaurant

    Thank you for your comment and for sharing the nice experiences we always have when you are around. Your presence is always magical


  11. Juliet Cutugno

    My favorite restaurants in Gozo are Pulena in marsalforn and Zafiro in Xlendi. In Malta I love going to favorita in marsascala

  12. Julia

    Maltese mama in St Julian’s. We stay at the hilton every year and always go to Maltese Mama. Excellent choice,fresh fish you can choose before its cooked and lots of lovely Maltese dishes. My husband loves the beef olives and I often have rabbit. It’s good value for money, not necessarily the cheapest, but good portions and superbly cooked. You are given a selection of Maltese starters whilst you choose what you want. Friendly service. Highly recommend it.

  13. Sabrina

    Hi Joseph,

    in full agreement with all of your recommendations above and would like to add D’Venue in Xaghra, Gozo. Some great local dishes are served there! For superior wine I recommend Patrick’s It Tmun in Victoria, I can’t wait to visit next month and sample some lovely reds!

    Best wishes,


  14. Steff

    So I agree with all – and some new ones which is great. Eat at Grabiels every time as would be in trouble if I didn’t visit!

    Also like to recommend Caffe Luna at Palazo Parisio in Naxxar as that’s been great whenever we visit and have recommended friends visit. Such pleasant service and different dishes beautifully done.

    Also Malata in Valletta – just on the main square with a great view of the palace and musical fountain at lunchtime. Fabulous salads and excellent pastas.

    And for something totally different, we like Sharma in Mdina. Really good Indian / Asian food that rivals some of the best I’ve eaten.


  15. Isabel

    What about Ta Frenc in Gozo? To me it’s the best.

  16. Margot

    Our current favourite is Portopalo on the Strand in Sliema. It’s not cheap, but the food is different, imaginative and delicious. Good selection of wines, too. It’s run by a very nice young couple, Rhona and Silvio, who really make you feel welcome.

  17. grabiels the best, great food every time and well worth the money. And must say the banter is fantastic. love it. Thanks to all you Brother’s. I live in Marsascala and we are always there with our Family from Mellieha. And when my Family from UK come over this is where we take them .

  18. Marlous

    Just visited Malta for the third time in 10 months. To be able to do that my dining budget is slightly limited, but luckily that doesn’t mean you have to compromise.
    Three very nice restaurants near the hostel I stayed (Corner Hostel, best hostel ever) are Gurlulu – Spinola Bay Vecchia Napoli – Sliema/ St Julian’s and Ta’ Kris – Sliema (near the ferries).

    Oh, and when in Mdina don’t forget your tea and cake at Fontanella’s (stunning view when seated on the terrace)

  19. Clelia

    Sciacca, a Paceville, si mangia divinamente. Rigorosamente tutto a base di pesce freschissimo.

    • Ramona Frendo

      SCIACCA, a few metres away from the Intercontinental St Julian’s – definitely the best fish restaurant on the island. And chef-patron Marvin Schembri treats his guests with such attention that this can easily become your local 🙂

  20. david

    well one of my best eating places is ruebens drive inn qawra,where you can get lots of fresh fish plus unusual new York steakes.The plates are in abundance as well.
    There is also bucchus in mdina esp in the summer months in their secret garden.

  21. Hi Joseph, my my you do us all proud-couldnt ask for a better cultural ambassador than you. Agree with you on Baia Beach-superb location, got such a Caribbean feel to it. In my neck of the woods-the Three Cities- great food and service at Don Berto on Birgu Marina. Outside on their terrace the view, especially at night, of the Grand Harbour is spectacular.Also for a unique culinary experience try Tal_Petut, again in Birgu, tucked away in a lane.

  22. Elizabeth

    Hi Joseph
    in full agreement with all of your recommendations above and would like to add
    Ximo Restaurant
    26, Marina Street, Marsascala, Certificate of Excellence 2013
    Cuisines: European
    Dining options: Breakfast/Brunch, Reservations, Late Night tel-27633299

  23. Maria

    I personally think that Michael’s in Archbishop Street, Valletta is sublime. Great food, great ambience, and great company. the plates are abundant and fine. Strongly recommend it

  24. Christian

    How I wish to be able to Malta one day!

  25. Eunice Smith

    If you haven’t tried La Mere in Republic Street in Valletta, go ahead as you will regret it. Very good food, excellent service and price is very reasonable. Pre-booking is necessary.

  26. Pauline

    My idea of a good fish restaurant is one that serves fish in its freshest form and also presents fish dishes in innovative ways and that is Tartarun in Marsaxlokk…Grabiel was one of the best fish places but then started to serve lots of fried starters.

    Try Agape in Rabat…must admit only been once but was impressed…impeccable service and good food.

    Value for money is Bianco’s in St Julians. Oh and definitely agree with Taragon ..always!

  27. Alex Casha

    Hi Joseph, so glad to be friend with you. You make us all proud to be Maltese. Please keep it up.

    I haven’t been to all the restaurants you mention, but I can definitely say De Mondion and Tarragon are two of the best restaurants on the island. Nowadays we have an abundance of good restaurants and you may wish to try, among others, Bacchus, Medina, It-Tmun (Victoria Gozo), Temptation, etc etc.


  28. Mark VB

    You don’t seem to have been at our favourite restaurant yet, right on your back door 😉

  29. Astrid Vella

    Hi Joseph, this is an added bonus to our enjoyment of your singing talents!

    I have to agree that Tartarun, Tarragon and Cafe Luna (Palazzo Parisio) are great both for food and impeccable service, but don’t forget Ambrosia in Valletta. Been going for years and it has always been divine.

    In Gozo, in addition to Michael’s and his father at Tmun in Mgarr, as well as Kartell and Chez Armand, I recommend you try Storie e Sapori – the last restaurant under the Calypso, Terrazza – a tiny restaurant serving exquisite Pugliese food at Mgarr, and Gianni’s on Marsalforn Road, Xaghra, next to the old Barbarella. Besides commanding wonderful views, this father-and-son team are bringing us the best that Turin has to offer.

    Besides excellent food, all the restaurants I’ve mentioned have superb manners and service that set them a cut above the rest.

  30. Michael O Asciak Sr

    Happy Thanksgiving from your friends here in Canada. Hoping your performances at the Met go well for you, and are truly enjoying it! Looking forward to enjoy some of your eatery recommendations this summer. It truly has been a long time. Memories of Baja Beach lunch and the boat ride there are still quite vivid.

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Joseph's Blog

May 16th, 2016

Quo Vadis Eurovision and other stories

Malta did not win the Eurovision but lo and behold the sun still rose and the island (the center of the known universe) still spun…

My two cents is that Ira Losco gave a really good performance and that the whole presentation was excellent. She shouldn’t have performed cause she is pregnant? Come off it – I have performed repeatedly with pregnant opera singers well into their 7th and 8th month of pregnancy and trust me when I say that rehearsing and performing for a full opera production is much more physically demanding than a couple of days at the Eurovision. Of course there are those who know much better than the undersigned and who went on to say that the presentation was a tad “camp”…oh the irony when one considers that the Eurovision is the campest of them all.

Meanwhile, this wouldn’t be Malta and the Eurovision wouldn’t be the Eurovision unless its politicized to the exhaustible hilt. The inevitable “mud slinging competition,” which we will see a lot of in the coming 22 months, ensued and even yours truly (inexplicably) ended up in the midst of the fray, in yet another “supernova” in a tea cup. The Eurovision suddenly became an interchangeable bullet to be used ad nauseam by both sides much like bitter parents who use their innocent children during disputes.  I have always found sycophants interesting, even amusing but they will not be getting the much desired Streisand effect from me, thank you very much. It is part of human nature after all to conjure conspiracies and we are not going to let the simple truth get in the way of some exciting and convenient fiction.

Speaking of “conjuring” is it me or is a company advertising real estate using a chap “connected” with the tragic and unnecessary death of an underage girl? It must be a clone or a”doppleganger”, otherwise this would be the epitome of bad taste and a 100 shades of wrong. Don’t get me wrong I am all for “second chances” and all of that but shouldn’t there be due process first? After all Lisa Marie didn’t get a second chance did she?