No visit to Valletta is complete without a trip to the famous Caffe Cordina, which first opened its doors over 175 years ago. We went with two traditional Maltese sweets: a kannol rikotta (basically their less sweet version of an Italian cannoli) and a honey ring (made with treacle, marmalade, orange peel, spices, and honey). Both were delicious and combined with the fact that it was warm enough to eat outside in the sunshine, made this a great start to our day.
Located in the same palazzo as Caffe Cordina is Eddie’s Cafe. I ordered the Maltese dips, which included galletti (traditional Maltese crackers), gbejniet (Maltese cheese), bigilla (mashed beans), fazola, capunata tomatoes, Maltese sausage, olives, tuna, gardiniera (pickled vegetables), and capers. It was fun to taste a bunch of Maltese specialties all at once, especially while listening to the peculiar sound of Maltese as a group of older women chatted a few tables over from us.
Unfortunately, the restaurant I was planning to take us to for dinner was closed for the entire month of January. We ran into this issue quite a few times since Malta is such a seasonal destination. Despite this tiny hiccup, we were seated at Tico Tico, where I enjoyed some fresh, salmon-stuffed tortelloni.
Sunday was the day we went on our (very long) journey to Gozo so we grabbed a quick bite at the cafe right around the corner from our Airbnb. Still very full from the night before, we split a Maltese pastizzi, a pastry filled with ricotta. The cafe was definitely a local spot, with almost everyone speaking Maltese.
Ta’Rikardu, located in Victoria on the island of Gozo, was the perfect spot to get a little afternoon pick-me-up. Rikardu makes his own wine and goat cheese from his farm so everything was super fresh. There is also a little shop downstairs filled with handmade crafts and food items that was fun to check out.
For dinner, we took the bus to the sea-side town of Xlendi and like the previous night, the restaurant I was planning on taking us to was closed for the entire month. Literally the only restaurant open was Mobydick , which was right on the water and offered peaceful sounds of the breaking waves throughout our meal. I also spent much of our meal pointing out the many cats that were hovering around our table looking for scraps. I wasn’t too hungry so I opted for a simple vegetable soup but Evan got the traditional rabbit stew, which was super flavorful and tasty.
We took a 5-minute walk from our Airbnb to “downtown” Nadur, which consisted of an atm, coffee shop, and giant church. Another Maltese pastizzi for breakfast, along with a chocolate donut (naturally). For two cappucinos and two pastries, our breakfast bill was €3. Basically, I love Maltese prices.
Back in Valletta for the rest of the afternoon, we popped into Da Pippo Trattoria on a whim. Best. Meal. In. Malta. By. Far. The small restaurant was very busy but we were able to grab the last open table. As soon as we were seated, our waiter placed a plateful of fresh goatcheese, tomatoes, and capers in front of us. After a couple minutes, he came back to our table and asked us what we were in the mood for – meat, seafood, pasta. No menus, he said, they only cook what they could get from the market that morning. Afterwards, he brought us a clam linguine and lobster ravioli, which were two of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever had (and I live in Italy). That was followed by chocolate canolis, limoncello, and espresso. After all that food, I basically had to be rolled out of the restaurant but it was one of those meals that we’ll remember for years to come.