Giovann Attard: where to eat in Malta

Giovann Attard has been living and cooking in London for 12 years. He’s now executive chef at Norma, the superb Sicilian-style restaurant in London’s Fitzrovia. Before moving to England, he went to culinary school in his home country of Malta, which he still visits three or four times a year. He talked to us about where he eats when he’s at home

Is-Serkin Crystal Palace Bar, Rabat

This café in Rabat is a very traditional place where they serve tea in glasses – it’s a really authentic Maltese experience with a great local ambience. They serve pastizzi, which are savoury pastries made with lard, a bit like puff pastry but way more layered and unbelievably flaky. There are two types: a diamond-shaped one filled with ricotta and a half moon-shaped one with mushy peas, a legacy of the British Empire. You can’t get more Maltese than pastizzi. 

VCM2+Q5P, Triq San Pawl, Ir-Rabat, no website 

Is-Serkin Crystal Palace Bar

Mekren and Maxokk Bakeries, Gozo

There are two bakeries on Malta’s sister island of Gozo. Whenever Maltese people go to Gozo for a tranquil weekend, they all head to one of them for traditional ftira, a kind of Maltese version of pizza that comes in lots of flavours but was traditionally made with potatoes, anchovies, onion, olives and capers. Get them to take away and drive five minutes to Ramla beach and eat them on the sand. 

Maxokk, St. James Street, In-Nadur, Gozo; maxokkbakery.com

Mekren Triq Hanaq, In-Nadur, Gozo; instagram.com/mekrens_bakery_official

Makren and Maxokk Bakeries

Il-Barri, Mgarr

This restaurant in the small village of Mgarr is not fancy at all but it’s loud and atmospheric and they serve super-traditional Maltese food. For your starter, try the local sheep’s cheese which comes fried and look out for veal bragioli, a traditional dish made from rolled veal topped with beef mince and slow-cooked in red wine. Their signature is a fantastic rabbit stew that comes as a feast for the table with loads of roast potatoes and vegetables. They do it in lots of different ways, but I always have it fried with garlic and onions because that’s how my mum does it. 

Il-Barri, Triq IL-Kbira, L-Imġarr, Malta; il-barri.com.mt


Ta Karolina, Gozo

Ta Karolina is one of those restaurants that sits literally by the sea in beautiful Xlendi Bay. You’ve got the table and then you’ve got the sea. Being right by the water, they have a display of seafood, and they just do excellent baked fish and grilled prawns. It’s a Mediterranean restaurant rather than authentic Maltese but it’s one of the best experiences you can have on the islands, especially in the evening, sitting by the sea. 

Ta Karolina, Triq L-Ghar ta Karolina, Munxar, Gozo; karolinarestaurant.com

Rubino, Valetta 

This restaurant in Valetta captures the recent evolution of the Maltese food scene. It serves traditional flavours but cooked in a modern way with a lot of flair. They still do the old dishes like fried rabbit and the classic local fish soup, Aljotta, but they do them in a smart contemporary way. 

Rubino, 53 Old Bakery Street, Il-Belt Valletta; rubinomalta.com


Try Giovann’s cooking at Norma, normalondon.com and follow him on Instagram @giovannattard 

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