Valetta, Malta: Best places to eat - chef Chris Bonello's picks

THE MEAL PLANNER

THE EXPERT

CHRIS BONELLO, Executive Chef, Zagame Corporation

Born to a farming family in Malta, Chris Bonello has an innate connection to seasonal produce. Under the ex-Vue Group executive chef, MPD Steak Kitchen in Berwick was named AHA Victoria Restaurant of the Year in 2018. Bonello was named Chef of the Year. See mpdsteakkitchen.com

BREAKFAST

Caffe Cordina is one of my favourite spots to enjoy a Maltese pastizz or a qassata. Tucked away in an old palazzo, Caffe Cordina takes me back to my childhood, when I watched my grandmother make homemade pastries in her kitchen. Malta is famous for pastizzi, a filled, savoury pastry that is the national go-to. I can always count on receiving friendly service and traditional handmade goodies at Caffe Cordina. See caffecordina.com

SNACK

The Pulled Meat Company is one of my favourite places to get pulled meat ftajjar (traditional Maltese stuffed flatbread) and home-made agnolotti. If you are feeling adventurous, give their rabbit belly burger a try. Rabbit is a very popular protein in Maltese cooking – I grew up eating it each Sunday for lunch. We would usually have rabbit stew, cooked with white wine and garlic, or sometimes my mother would use the meat to make traditional Maltese sausages, which were delicious. See issuqtalbelt.com/portfolio-item/pulled-meat/

LUNCH

One of my childhood friends heads up the kitchen at Marina Club, which makes the experience extra enjoyable for me, as I know each meal is made with passion and seasonal produce. They always have a great menu selection and steak cut variety, including tomahawk, T-bone, flap meat, prime, rib eye and short rib. Enjoy with a bottle of wine or cold, long cocktails. It's on the waterfront and opposite the famous three cities, making it one of my favourite places to take in panoramic views of Valletta – and enjoying a steak while I'm at it. See marinaclubvw.com

APERTIVO

I love spending the late afternoon at Trabuxu Wine Bar, exploring the impressive wine list and grazing on an impressive charcuterie board that includes cured meats and homemade parfaits, all sourced locally and served with traditional crunchy sourdough. If you're hungry, and can't wait till dinner, try the rabbit spaghetti. The rabbit is cooked in garlic and white wine with bay leaves, thyme, basil, oregano, tomatoes and Three Hills passata, which is made in Malta and distributed globally. Once the rabbit is cooked, pasta and peas are added to absorb all the flavours. See trabuxu.com.mt

DINNER

Palazzo Preca is the perfect place to go if you want to impress your fellow dining guests. Chef and owner, Ramona Preca is the driving force behind this award-winning restaurant in a 16th century palazzo on Strait Street. I would recommend the locally-sourced grilled swordfish with olives, capers and mixed herbs. The swordfish – or pixxispad in Maltese – is sourced from local fish markets and is presented in a signature style. See palazzoprecavalletta.com

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