About Malta - Eating Out

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Maltese cuisine is typically Mediterranean and has a great deal of Italian influence due to the proximity between the two nations. Having said that, there are also Arabic, Spanish and British hints in many Maltese dishes. Moreover, many Maltese and Gozitan dishes are completely unique and cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

Because of its location and landscape, Malta’s gastronomy is mainly rustic and based on seasonal products and sea food. Many classic recipes include a tart base filled with vegetables, cheese, meat, fish, pasta or rice. There are also a lot of stew dishes, following the traditional Maltese cooking method of putting the food in mud vessels over a hot stone named kenur, since there were no firewood ovens because trees aren’t abundant.

When you look back at the history of this country, you can understand why Maltese cuisine has so many outside influences. Malta was under Roman rule in antiquity, had an Arab period in the Middle Ages, was occupied by France between 1798 and 1800 and was part of the British Empire. Besides, location is another factor that has played a major role in defining the culture and gastronomy of Malta – Sicily, Tunisia and Libya are all close.

However, there are also certain Maltese dishes that have their own identity. Indeed, many travellers leave the Islands taking a Maltese recipe book with them in order to try out the dishes with family and friends back home. It’s also worth keeping in mind that portion sizes in Malta tend to be massive, so sharing a main dish is a fantastic way to cut costs while still enjoying a meal at a nice restaurant.

During the summer months Al Fresco dining in Malta is extremely popular due to the mild climate, and most restaurants in Malta offer this, often on the very edge of the sea. Many resorts specialise in fresh fish and are often home to a fleet of fishing boats whose catches can be on your plate just a few hours after they were caught. Examples include St. Julians, Marsaxlokk and St. Paul`s Bay. Seaside towns St Julian’s, Sliema and Mellieha are also great for eating out and drinking while Malta’s capital city Valletta has lots of chic restaurants in historic townhouses. Marsaxlokk is another key destination on the Maltese culinary map, especially if you want to eat fish or sea food.

Snacks and Apetisers

  • Pastizzi - Pastizzi are Malta’s favourite hot snacks and you can find stalls or bars that sell them everywhere. They are made of ricotta cheese or a green pea mixture stuffed inside pastry. These have been the two staple pastizzi flavours for years and years, and even now they’re easily the most popular and common variations around. However, if you’re looking for more adventurous pastizzi then you’re in luck as one can also find chicken, rabbit and even peppered steak ones! Apart from these, the steady rise of Nutella pastizzi has challenged the idea that they have to be a savoury treat!
  • Gbejniet - These are small round cheeselets made from goat or sheep’s milk. You can find them plain or peppered. The spicy ones are absolutely delicious with local bread and a slice of tomato, Maltese style.
  • Bigilla - It’s basically a dip made of mashed beans and forms a staple part of any Maltese diet. It’s usually eaten with salad, bread, crackers or savoury biscuits, or even just straight from the jar.
  • Hobz Biz-zejt - (literally translated as bread with oil) – Served as an appetiser in bars and restaurants, these pieces of bread with olive oil and a mixture of chopped tomatoes, onions and herbs was once what poor Maltese people could afford to eat.

Mail Meals

  • Soups - There are many tasty soups in Maltese gastronomy including vegetable soup (Minestra) and Widow’s Soup (Soppa Tal-Armala), which got its name from the simple ingredients: tomatoes and other vegetables combined with ricotta cheese or gbejniet cheeselets. Another popular soup is boiled fish soup with tomatoes and garlic (aljotta).
  • Rabbit - Popular with the Maltese with the locals eating it in many different ways. Some of their favourite are rabbit stew with wine and herbs, roast rabbit, fried rabbit or even as a sauce to go with a spaghetti dish.
  • Fish Pie - This is a delicious pie prepared with lampuki (dorado), a fish the Maltese love but can only find from September to November. Inside the pie, one can find vegetables, walnuts, olives and raisins.
  • Beef Olives (Bragioli) - Slices of beef or veal stuffed with a combination of cheese, ham and herbs cooked gently on the stove or in an oven.
  • Baked Rice (Ross il-forn) - Baked rice with minced pork, beef, bacon, eggs and ricotta cheese.
  • Stewed Octopus - A sauce octopus with onions, tomatoes, olives and capers.
  • Swordfish in caper sauce - Fried swordfish with a sauce of capers, tomatoes and onions.
  • Fried or oven-baked fish - Normally, lampuka (dorado), considered to be the national fish and served with a rich tomato sauce with capers, olives, garlic and some fresh herbs added as a garnish.
  • Pasta Pie (Timpana) - A macaroni plate with minced beef and pork, eggs, cheese, chicken liver and bacon. It’s one of the most sought-out Maltese comfort foods during winter.
  • Gozitan Ftira - Sometimes advertised as the Maltese version of pizza but the only thing it has in common with pizza is the flat bread base. Typical ingredients include a layer of thinly sliced potatoes, onions and fresh tomatoes plus any choice of Mediterranean ingredients. The most traditional version also features olives, capers and tuna or anchovies.

 Desserts and Sweets

  • Nougat (Qubbajt)- This is similar to nougat and made with almonds and honey. Traditionally, it would only be seen at feasts or special events but now one can find it year-round in stalls and local shops.
  • Date pastries (Imqaret)- One of the traditional remnants of the Arab world that was left behind in Malta. Cut in fine rectangular shapes, this is a delightful recipe consisting of deep fried date-filled pastries. The dish name itself is the plural of maqrut which derives from the Arabic word meaning diamond.


Drinking in Malta can be a wonderful experience too. Some Maltese wines are excellent and the some goes for Cisk, the local refreshing beer. You can also try some popular local ales like Hopleaf Pale and Blue Label Ale, as well as some local liqueurs like Anisette (from the aniseed) and Bajtra (from the prickly pear).

The favourite soft drink in Malta is Kinnie, available only in the Maltese islands and nowhere else in the world. It’s a slightly bitter, fizzy drink which tastes of orange and herbs. The Maltese also love tea and coffee, both usually served with milk.



With a diet rich in fresh seafood and fish, local herbs and vegetables, and the local delicacy of rabbit, Malta has long been the unsung cuisine of the Mediterranean kitchen. Book a trip now: you’ll experience superb cooking in beautiful settings, and explore a culinary culture that resonates with centuries’ worth of influences and the joy of food.


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