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Italian Cuisine

Let's talk about Italian cuisine in Malta!

- Italian food Have Taken The World By Storm! -

Italian Cuisine in Malta

Italian food Have Taken The World By Storm! You’re only a few steps away from an Italian restaurant in Malta and in most other countries in the world! It is a cuisine that is wildly popular across the globe, mainly due to its ease of access to staple ingredients and simple recipes.

The Mediterranean diet is considered to be one of the healthiest, owed to ingredients that come with some super health benefits. It contains an array of fruit and vegetables, cereals and cereal products (such as pasta, brown rice and wholegrain bread), fish, dairy and white meat. In Malta, the cuisine was heavily based on the diet maintained by the Italians and has largely influenced the Italian restaurants here, as a lot of basic items can be found and grown locally here, due to the similarities in both climate, soil and weather.

A Brief History About Italian Cuisine

Food is sacred to Italians and is somewhat of a ritual. Like many stories, recipes and traditions have been passed down generations. Once the Roman Empire fell, each region throughout Italy gained fame slowly, but steadily, for their unique and individual recipes – like when you think of Naples, you automatically picture a pizza, in Milan it’s risotto, in Tuscany it’s wild boar and truffles and in Sardinia it’s seafood. Today, many variations of the ‘trattoria’, ‘pizzeria’ and restaurants can be found everywhere, and Malta is no exception.

A Must-Have List

Like in every other cuisine, there are ingredients which form the basis of most Italian dishes and are essential to its success. These are mainly:

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Something that no-one else in the world creates better than the Italians themselves! Although we use the ‘everyday’ kind of olive oil in most recipes, a proper flavourful peppery olive oil is often used to garnish dishes or salads or as a simple dip for Italian bread (focaccia).
  • Balsamic Vinegar – The main areas of production for this wonderful ingredient has to be Modena or Emilia-Romagna and can prices can sky-rocket into the hundreds of euros for a truly magnificent one. It is a well-aged vinegar with a strong flavour and is usually very dark in colour. It can be used in its basic form as a dressing or a marinade.
  • Garlic – This is not an ingredient that is bound to a specific region, but rather, all Italians believe that it forms part of the foundation of any meal and is sautéed in olive oil to create the base of most dishes.
  • Fresh Tomatoes – A long time ago, Italians thought that these were poisonous and was strictly thought of as a food for the peasants. It is a mistake that has been long-forgotten, and in today’s Italian dishes, fresh tomatoes lie at the heart of its cuisine, even though they were originally a Mexican product!
  • Oregano – This amazing herb provides a wonderfully earthy flavour to most dishes, whether it’s pizza, pasta sauce, meat or salads.
  • Basil – Another incredibly fragrant herb which is probably the most popular in Italian cuisine. It can literally be used in anything, from salads to pesto (where it shines as the main ingredient), salads, meats and sandwiches. It is as versatile as they come!

What to Choose… Typical Italian Dishes!

Italian restaurants in Malta can be found all across the Maltese islands and have become a go-to for many reasons, whether it’s a birthday meal, work event, family dinner and so on – mostly because there is such a vast choice of dishes that everyone is bound to find something they’ll like. The most popular dishes at Italian restaurants in Malta are usually:

  • Pizza – A classic, of course and synonymous with Naples. It started off as nothing more than flatbread with tomatoes, but is certainly an Italian restaurant best-seller! They have gained so much fame in Malta, it’s beyond belief to have ever thought there was a time that pizzas weren’t around.
  • Lasagna – Once again, praise Naples! Layers of lasagne pasta with tomato and meat sauce, ricotta or white sauce and topped with grated mozzarella and baked in the oven – truly indulgent!
  • Parmigiana – Made using eggplants that have been breaded and fried, then layered with tomato sauce and mozzarella and baked, this has become a favoured choice as a starter, or ‘primo piatto’ in Italian restaurants in Malta.
  • Spaghetti Alla Carbonara – A lot of people seem to think that this dish contains cream – do not ever tell that to an Italian! It is essentially spaghetti that is tossed in and mixed with pork cheek (or ‘guanciale’), parmesan and egg – which is where this pasta gets its super creamy texture from!
  • Arancini – These insanely delicious Sicilian rice balls are made by mixing butter and Parmesan cheese together, then tossed in egg, flour and breadcrumbs and fried in olive oil. Italian restaurants and small take-out places provide these as a light snack in Malta and are a great choice for lunch!

And for dessert, it would have to be the Tiramisu! Made from sponge (ladyfingers) soaked in espresso (with quite a bit of rum!) and then layered with mascarpone cheese, whipped eggs and sugar and topped with a fine layer of cocoa. Divine!

The variety and imagination in Italian cuisine is remarkable, and has made some of it’s most popular dishes an easy target for exportation. This cuisine is both foreign and yet so familiar, mainly because so many of the ingredients used are not traditionally Italian! They are a people that have learnt to adapt, borrow, invent and re-invent the wheel – which is definitely why so much success is owed to this cuisine.

Italian restaurants in Malta have flourished because of the outstanding flavour that even the simplest of ingredients provide when mixed together – the balance that is struck between simplicity and creativity has created a true art form and is why Italian restaurants have flourished globally!