Experience the best of Gozo's restaurants with a foodie tour of the Island. The Way to the real Gozo is through its stomach and if top quality food is what you are looking for then Gozo has it all. From critically aclaimed restaurants from International chefs to beachside restaurants serving the freshest seafood, eating out on the Island will not disappoint.
As the ferry slowly makes its way into Mgarr harbour, the smell from the port-side restaurants really gets the taste buds flowing and you just want to get off the ferry and dive straight into a fresh-sea food platter, Mgarr really is the definition of fresh fish. Husband and wife team Leli and Jane Buttigieg have been serving high quality food to locals and tourists alike at their restaurant Tmun, for the past 25 years. Aided by their son Paul, Tmun sets high standards on the Gozitan food scene, ideally situated on the water’s edge, the team at Tmun do not rest on their laurels and constantly strive to improve the variety of food they offer. The famous Bouillabaisse soup for two is a must and contains no less than 7 different varieties of fish. The restaurants Asian cut pan fried local calamari has an exotic twist to it and the team have a wide array of daily specials, including Sushi the last time I visited. Vegetarians are well catered for with a fantastic choice of fresh local pasta and for meat lovers the herb crusted Irish Frenched rack of lamb comes with all of the trimmings. (Martinu Garces Street, Mgarr; +356 2156 6276). A few paces up the hill, L'Ankra, recently taken over by the energetic pairing of Gino and John Paul, continues to serve up a fine dining experience. Their menu is rich and has an excellent local feel to it, specialities include a delightful sea-food risotto, cooked to perfection. The Beef Carpaccio is tender and it is obvious that only the finest cuts of beef are used in its preparation and for those looking for a taste of Gozo the starter platter of local meats, including wild boar salami is a must. Pasta lovers are spoilt with a truffle ravioli that is well balanced and light. Make sure you leave some room for the deserts, homemade cheesecakes are the order of the day. (11, Shore Street, Mgarr; +356 2155 5656)
The Island's Capital, Victoria, does not fail to deliver when it comes to offering high quality restaurants. The capital has some excellent restaurants that are a must visit on your trip to the Island. Take yourself back in time and while away a couple of hours in the historic building that houses The Restaurant, La Stanza, located in a old building that used to serve as part of the Citadel and was built by the Knights of St John. La Stanza is full of character and the view from the terrace offers an unobstructed view of the Citadel. Inside the restaurant you will find romantic enclaves and an historic inner terrace where lunch and dinner are served. The menu is very much traditional with a modern twist and the hosts Stephan and Melissa have created a warm and friendly feel to the place. The Octopus Carpaccio starter has a great kick to it and the linguini with sea-urchin sauce is both unusual and delightful at the same time. If you find yourself dining with a fellow seafood lover, the seafood platter for two is a must. La Stanza prides itself on its deserts and a real treat lies in store for those with a sweet tooth. The restaurant has an extensive wine list, including wine from the family vineyard in Victoria. (56, Triq L-Imghallem, Victoria, +356 2155 8047). Nestled in a corner of Independence Square you will find IT-Tokk, a restaurant that offers a great, well shaded terrace that overlooks the market below and also has commanding views of the Citadel, a great spot both day and night. IT-Tokk serves an excellent local Rabbit stew, a staple dish on the Island, and the chef has the recipe down to a tee. The fish soup is also hearty and delicious and goes well with a slice or two of Gozitan bread. Vanessa and her team give everyone a warm welcome and service is quick and efficient. (IT-Tokk, Independence Square, Victoria, +356 2155 1213). Just behind Independence Square you will find a quintessential Gozitan Square which is home to St George’s Basilica as well as two excellent Café bars that serve top quality Gozitan dishes and snacks, Grapes Wine Bar and The Piazza Cafe. Both Grapes and The Piazza are owned by the delight- ful owner, Dione, who has created a varied day time menu including Gozitan Sandwiches, excellent meat and fish pasta dishes and grilled calamari. If you are lucky you may even get to see a wedding at St George's Basilica unfold in front of your eyes. (St George's Square, Victoria, +356 7947 3504). Head up the hill and into the Citadel, take the steps to the left of the court house, turn right and you will find Café San Martino, a new edition to the Gozitan landscape, the café/restaurant has a great roof terrace that offers superb views of the Island. The menu offers typical Gozitan dishes including fresh salads and anti pasti plates with local Gozitan cheese's and meats and which is best served with a glass of local wine. The sunset views are second to none. For a red meat blow-out, a visit to Patrick's Tmun is a must. Patrick’s Lounge and Steakhouse is a multiple award winning restaurant that sets the standard in Malta and Gozo. Chef Patron, Patrick, has quietly built an establishment driven by a refined talent and a clear notion of style that stretches far beyond the sanctuary of his formidable kitchen. With a knack of staying at the forefront of the restaurant scene, Patrick’s consistently delivers freshness, yet confidence inspiring familiarity, in his cuisine and jaw dropping wine cellar. Steak is the house speciality and pride is taken in carefully seIecting perfectly marbeled prime cuts and aged beef. Other specials sometimes include impressive chateaubriand for two, sumptuous Porterhouse Steaks, flavour rich USDA aged beef & delicate Kobe beef (Europe Street, Victoria, +356 2156 6667), www.patrickstmun.com. Lovers of Chinese food won't be disappointed; Victoria is home to Fu Hua, one of the original Chinese restaurants on the Island. Fu Hua also provides a take-away service (Fortunato Mizzi Street, Victoria, +356 2156 4666).
You could spend two weeks in Xlendi and still not have time to eat in every one of the restaurants found in this pretty seaside village. Take a stroll along the quayside to the left of the bay as if you are looking out to sea, climb a few steps and you will arrive at IC Cima. This restaurant has been going strong in Xlendi for two decades now and its rooftop terrace is a must, the views down on Xlendi and the open sea are commanding and if you arrive early enough you will have the privilege of eating your meal whilst seeing the sun set. The menu offers a mix of Mediterranean and Gozitan and the food served is always of the highest quality. (St Simon St, Xlendi, +356 21558407). Back down in the bay, The Moby Dick serves fantastic steaks and also has a full Chinese Menu as well, the sizzling chilli chicken comes highly recommended, and there is also a full range of pizzas and pasta dishes available. Look out for the daily specials and wine of the week. (Marina St, Xlendi, +356 21561518). A little further along from the Moby Dick you will find one of the newest arrivals on the Xlendi foodie scene, The Boat House. As the name suggests, this restaurant is housed within an old converted boathouse and is full of character, it has an almost New England feel to it. The owners are seasoned restaurateurs and they certainly know how to put together a menu and please their customers. In 2012 The Boat House was awarded one of the top 40 restaurants in the Maltese Islands by the The Definitive (ly) Good Guide. Specialities include fresh fish and seafood, live lobsters and shellfish, suckling pig and Argentinean and Irish beef. A vast wine cellar of over 200 different wines helps to ease your dinner down. (Marina St, Xlendi, +356 21569153). Two doors away from The Boat House is a gem of a restaurant called Ta’Karolina. Tucked away in the corner of the bay, the restaurant is named after the cave it sits in front of. This restaurant is busy both day and night and it is easy to understand why. Joseph and his team run a well oiled machine and the kitchen consistently serve dishes of the highest quality. Sea-food is the order of the day here, the fisherman literally anchor right in front of the restaurants doors and next to the restaurant you will find fisherman’s huts where the nets are fixed after a tough day at sea. Ta’Karolina also serves up fantastic fresh pasta and meat dishes. (Marina St, Xlendi, +356 21559675). An extremely welcome addition to not only the Xlendi food scene, but also the Gozitan dining scene is the Sapana Indian restaurant. Gozo hasn’t had an Indian restaurant for over 20 years, but it has been worth waiting for. The team at Sapana know what a curry experience is all about and the menu serves up all of the Indian classics. The menu lives up to its expectations and the guys here certainly know their curries. The mixed starter platter is a must. (Rabat Rd, Xlendi, +356 21562100). Not all of the best restaurants are necessarily found on the sea-front, C-Seven serves an excellent variety of Mediterranean and local dishes and has daily specials including seafood Lasagne the last time we were there. If I could choose one dish from their starter, I would opt for the garlic mushrooms in a creamy but subtle sauce which are among the best I have tried. C-Seven also serve fresh fish, pasta and meat dishes as well as a good Pizza menu. If you are in hurry then their sister snack bar serves good burgers and the bar also serves excellent Crepes, just like they are made in France. The pub section to the restaurant has a cracking cocktail list. (Rabat Rd, Xlendi, +356 27012242).
Walk into the Village Square in Xaghra and you could be walking back in time 100 years. Xaghra is one of the most beautiful villages on the Island and is also home to some quality restaurants. Breeze Restaurant, located on the square has been operating for two years and has built up a strong flow of loyal custom- ers. The restaurant is family run and Rita and George, the proprietors, have worked hard to create an imaginative menu. The Mediterra- nean cuisine and vegetarian menu offer salads, fresh pasta, meats including duck, quails and local rabbit. The restaurant serve daily caught fresh fish, Gozitan Delicacies and Traditional food as well as Pizza. The black tagliatelle with seafood comes highly recommended. Nothing is too much of a problem for these guys and if there is something that you want that isn’t on the menu then the team will do their best to prepare something to taste. The Breeze menu is complemented by a large selection of local and foreign wines. Breeze is open every day for lunch and dinner but closed on Wednesday during winter months. (Victory Square, Xaghra, +356 21553044). Situated in between Victoria and Marsalforn, you will find Ta’Frenc, one of the most well known restaurants on the Maltese Islands and has won too many awards to mention. Ta’Frenc is an institution for real foodies who are looking for a fine dining experience and executive chef Mario Schembri and his team do not fail to deliver. Ta’Frenc is housed in an authentic old farmhouse and diners have the choice of dining in their own private dining room or on the beautiful terrace. As you walk into the restaurant you may notice a sweet smell in the air, this is in fact the new herb garden where both herbs and flowers are grown organically and used throughout the menu. The menu has a classic French feel to it and includes an a la carte menu as well as various market menus that offer very good value. The fish soup is a must as is the Chateaubriand, if you have room for desert I highly recommend the Crepes Suzette, flamed at the table no less. Ta’Frenc is closed on Tuesdays. (Marsalforn Rd, Xaghra, +356 21553888). Located on the main sqaure in Xaghra, Rubble Bar/Restaurant, has been one of the main stays of the Xaghra food scene for a long time. Local regulars mix with tourists who are drawn to the bar for it’s relaxed atmosphere and a place where you can catch up with friends. The terrace has great views of the square and inside, the bar has an oldie worldie feel to it where you can feel a world away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Don’t be fooled by the word bar in the name, Rubble serves up delicious plates of local Gozitan delicacies, aswell as excellent pasta, meat and fish dishes. If you are not feeling peckish then the bar serves great cocktails and has a large selction of wines available. The owner Audrey, will make you feel at home and service is always with a smile. Don’t be surprised if you are on your own and a strtanger strikes up a conversation with you, it’s that kind of place where people are made to feel welcome. (Victory Square, Xaghrra, +356 21563758)
Marsalforn is littered with restaurants and a little insider knowledge is required to help you make an informed decision. Il Kartell, with its prime location in the corner of the bay, is a must visit on a trip to Marsalforn. Testament to Il Kartells reputation is that you will be fighting with local Gozitans and Maltese who come over for the weekend for a table, something which always a good sign in a restaurant. Owner Philip Spiteri, has carried on the traditional methods he learnt from his late Mother, Carmen. The lampuki pie, with the home-made sundried tomato paste is heavenly and is best served with a bottle of house wine from their own vine-yard, Ta’Mena. The house specialities change on a regular basis, fish comes high on the menu, and why not, you can literally dip your toes into the water from your table. The menu has a great anti-pasti platter and all of the ingredients have been hand made over at the estate. (Marina St, Marsalforn, +356 21556918). For a taste of real Gozitan cuisine, head to Menqa L’Antika. Chef and owner Gordon Camilerri, has created a wonderful ‘Gozitan’ menu that encompasses the best that the Island has to offer from a food perspective. The restaurants motto is ‘’evoking memories of Gozo’s earliest gastronomy and Gordon takes dinners back to his childhood with an array of dishes that are both authentic and unique to Gozo. The main ingredient that makes Menqa stand out is its attention to detail. For a starter we recom- mend the Gozo cheese, bacon & crusty bread kebabs with a sundried tomato dressing and for main the stuffed boned quail in a carob syrup infused jus. (Marina St, Marsalforn, +356 27300309).
Dwejra is one of the most beautiful spots on the Island and until recently did not have a restaurant of note. All that has now changed with the arrival of The Azure Window, which opened its doors in 2011. The restaurant has a commanding presence, towering over the Inland Sea below and diners are given an extra special dining experience and a view to die for. The food served up doesn’t fail to deliver and diners can choose between fresh fish, pasta, and meat dishes with a Mediterranean and local twist. The restaurant also serves as a wine bar and is a great place to enjoy a sun downer or two. (Pjazza Dwejra, The Inland Sea, San Lawrenz, +356 21566560)
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