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Our Pick of Maltese food

Updated: Mar 9, 2022

Maltese food has huge influence from its colonial past and also its location. The British, French, Sicilians, Romans, Arabs and Phoenicians all played a part in shaping the food of this country. Its close proximity to North Africa and its location in the middle of Mediterranean meant it was an important point in the major shipping routes since the ancient times and therefore Maltese food was evolved for centuries and absorbed the influence of many civilizations and cultures.

During our stay in the island in Malta we tried many local popular dishes and here are our pick of the best we tried while in Malta.

Pastizzi from Caffe Cornido

1. Maltese Pastizzi

Similar to Calzone or Empanada, the Maltese Pastizz (Pastizzi plural) is a popular savoury dish with flaky puff pastry casing filled with curried peas, curried ground beef or ricotta cheese. This is popular street food and best eaten hot with a cup of coffee anytime during the day. We tried Pastizzi from several places, but the Pastizzi at Caffe Cordina in Valletta was our favourite.

Bombette from Caffe Cornido

2. Bombette

Bombettes are deep fried dough balls stuffed with spinach, mozzarella cheese and ham. Another popular savoury snack best to eaten while hot with a cup of coffee.

Rabbit stew (stuffat tal-fenek) at Coogi's

3. Rabbit stew (stuffat tal-fenek)

Rabbit stew is considered as the national dish of Malta and is something that has been cooked in every Maltese kitchen for centuries and receipes handed down from one generation to another. The meat which has been marinated in local red wine simmers away for a couple of hours or longer in a rich wine and tomato sauce infused with bay, garlic and herbs. This is usually served with bread and wine in regular tumblers pointing to the ‘family and community spirit’ of this dish. A trip to Malta is incomplete without a taste of this this traditional slow cooked meal. We tried it at Coogi’s in Mdina.

Traditional Maltese Sausage Charcuterie ay Ta Doni in Rabat

4. Traditional Maltese Sausage Charcuterie

This traditional Maltese deli board is a mouth-watering mix of consist of smoked Maltese sausage (zalzetta tal-malti), smoked pork gammon slices, sheep cheese (Gbejna), semi sun-dried tomato, pickled egg, Bigilla (a traditional Maltese dip made from mashed beans), traditional tomato paste, Maltese olives, Galletti (Maltese Water Crackers) and olive oil.

  • Maltese sausage or zalzetta tal-malti is traditional homemade Maltese sausage made with pork ground with garlic, peppercorn, coriander seeds, parsley and spices. This probably has roots in the English colonial era.

  • Bigilla is a omnipresent traditional Maltese dip and made from beans, garlic, herbs like parsley, mint and oregano.

  • Gbejna is a traditional local Maltese cheese made from goat’s milk and salt.

  • Galletti also known as Maltese water cracker is a small, thin and savoury biscuit served as accompaniment in antipastis and platters and goes well with the bean dip Bigilla or tomato paste dip.

All the components used in this platter are traditional Maltese dishes on their own. The Maltese antipasti platter is widely available in traditional Maltese restaurants throughout the island and we tried this at Ta Doni in Rabat.

Seafood Pasta at Azure Window restaurant in the island go Gozo

5. Seafood Pasta

With abundant sea life and huge influence from Italy and proximity to it geographically, it is no surprise that you get some of the best sea food pastas in Malta! The use of local herbs and wines with fresh seafood creates some simple but showstopper dishes. Azure Window restaurant situated next to Azure Window visitor's car part of Azure Window is a great place to try this where we found the seafood pasta was made to perfection!

Bebbux at al-Majjistra Eat House in Mgarr in the island of Malta

6. Bebbux

Also known as bebbuxu (pronounced baboosh) this simple traditional Maltese appetizer dish is made with edible snails cooked in rich tomato sauce with herbs and garlic. Prepared during the rainy months when snails are foraged from the fields and forests and cleaned thoroughly before being cooked. Bebbux is mainly served with crusty bread and a glass of chilled beer or whisky. This dish can have a very polarised opinion – and snails may not be your thing- but if you are adventurous give it a go! We ate this in a small local restaurant in Mgarr called Tal-Majjistra Eat House.

Summienat al-Majjistra Eat House in Mgarr in the main island of Malta

7. Summien (Quails fried in garlic)

As the name suggests, this is a quail dish and is mainly available during quail hunting season in Malta. Quails are fried fried and then cooked in a red wine and balsamic vinegar-based sauce along with garlic and herbs and served with roasted potatoes and goes down well chilled beer. We ate this in a small local restaurant in Mgarr called Tal-Majjistra Eat House.

Aljotta at Roots Restaurant in Marsaxlokk

8. Aljotta (Maltese fish soup)

Aljotta is a traditional rustic fish soup of Malta and holds a very significant place in Maltese cuisine. It originates from the French fish soup bouillabaisse and is made using mahimahi fish in a tomato-based sauce. This light soup is served with herbs and lemon. We ate this at Roots Restaurant in the fishermen village of Marsaxlokk.

Konnoli from a street food stall in the village of Marsaxlokk

9. Kannoli

Imported from the island of Sicily, Kannoli is a popular traditional sweet dish available all around the island in cake and pastry shops. Kannoli has an outer crusty pastry hollow tube which is filled with ricotta, chocolate, cherries, citrus fruits and nuts. Though these looks small yet they are quite a mouthful and heavyduty!

Gelato from Amorino at Valletta

10. Gelato from Amorino

Malta is dotted with gelato shops and the most famous is Amorino! You have to queue up to get a bite of the beautiful richly flavourful gelato. The gelato is like a carved rose! These are heavenly to eat- smooth, cold and bursting with flavour, what more do you want in Mediterranean sun!

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