Back in May, I had the chance to spend a few days in Valletta, the Maltese capital.
Valletta reminds me of Sicilian Baroque cities such as Palermo, and it has been officially recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.
The city was named after Jean Parisot de Valette who successfully defended the island from the Ottomans in the sixteenth Century.
Historically Malta was dominated by the Phoenicians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Arabs and the Order of the Knights of St John.
Malta is located only 100 km south of Sicily, and it really surprised me how evident this proximity is, particularly in architecture and local cuisine. Even some words of the Maltese language have a strong Italian influence, since it was the official language before the British occupation.
On my second night in Valletta, I ventured out of my hotel with a groups of colleagues, heading to the Old Town for dinner. We had a list of a few restaurants, that turned out to be fully booked – thankfully may I add!
By absolute chance we gravitated towards the Parliament building, and there, in one of the side streets, we discovered our gem: Michael’s, in the building next to the civil service Sports Club.
If you read my blog, you know by now that I am not easily impressed, but Michael’s was everything I could have wished for, and more; we ended up having an unforgettable dinner.
We were immediately seated at the Chef’s table, a really incredible experience, and prompty recommended a local white wine (Medina) by our waiter, while we were browsing our menus for food.
Throughout dinner Michael personally came to our table, making sure we were enjoying our dinner and providing valuable explanations of the food he cooks and where he sources his ingredients.
We started with some amuse-bouche Bruschettas – deliciously fresh and vibrant in colour.
And then moved to our real starters, including a fantastic fish carpaccio and mussles ‘alla marinara’.
The following course was a huge sea-bass, baked in sea salt crust. Perfectly cooked, still moist, deliciously paired with roasted potatoes and grilled vegetables.
Followed by mixed sea-food, cooked in a light but beautifully seasoned olive oil, garlic and parsley sauce.
We decided to share two desserts, among all of us, and opted for the trio of Crème brûlée (vanilla, pistachio and chocolate). Heaven in a plate (or a bowl :)).
I particularly enjoyed the pistachio one, that was made with Sicilian pistachios from Bronte.
Followed by their home-made gelato (Vanilla, chocolate and green tea).
While we were enjoying our last glass of wine, Michael came out of the kitchen and explained us how he sources his special Vanilla sticks from Tahiti, while we were happily munching on some mini dates cannoli on the house.
Michael’s is a special place, family run, a superb culinary experience that I recommend to anybody visits Valletta. Service is exceptional, and the venue is pretty stunning, hosted in one of Valletta’s famous Baroque Pallazzos.
Michael’s Restaurant, 113 Archbishop Street, Valletta (Malta) – dinner around €45/person.