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Food, Dining, & Drinks in Malta

Culinary Influences

Malta's food, at its core, is based on season fruits and vegetable along with the locally available seafood. To a lesser extend it is also based on dairy products and some meats, although meat has traditionally been very expensive. Over time this island nation has had multiple invaders and visitors, leading to dozens of influences that have altered the food to this day. In the past the most common cooking method has been to slowly cook foods in pots over a fire and this tradition of slowly cooked foods continues today.

The greatest outside influence on the Maltese diet comes from Sicily. The two islands are similar in climate and have many of the same available foods so numerous dishes from Sicily were easy to make in Malta. Today, pasta and ravjul (or ravioli) is very popular in Malta due to this connection.

In addition to the Sicilians, Malta has been a crossroads in the Mediterranean Sea for centuries and these outside influences have made their way to Malta's dining room. North Africa and the Turks (who controlled the North Mediterranean coast for years) have had the next greatest impact on the Maltese diet, although nearly every powerful nation who traded in the region has left its mark, including the French, Spanish, and more recently the British.

Staple Foods

Bread: often served with a meal or before a meal with olive oil
Pasta: a base for many dishes in Malta, particularly the Italian inspired dishes
Pastry: often used to wrap other foods from vegetables to cheeses and meats

Regional Variations & Specialties

Aljotta: fish soup cooked with garlic, tomatoes and rice
Bragioli: bacon, garlic, egg, and breadcrumbs wrapped in sliced beef and slow cooked in wine
Pastizzi: snack of cheese and egg or peas cooked in a pastry
Rabbit Stew: red wine-marinated rabbit with garlic, onions, carrots, and tomatoes

Dining Etiquette

Maltese Food - Octopus

After falling under English rule for a number of years, dining etiquette in Malta is very similar to eating in the United Kingdom. Conservative dress and punctuality are valued and if you get invited to a local's house, be sure to bring a small gift.

Once you're actually seated be sure to follow continental dining style (knife in the right hand, fork in the left), place your napkin on your lap, and maintain good posture throughout the meal. Be warned though, that there will most likely be numerous dining courses and you are expected to eat from each course so don't eat too quickly and try to pace yourself with those around you so you don't overeat before the later courses arrive. Generally, the meal begins with bread, followed by appetizers, pasta, and meat or fish. Many times a soup will start the meal and a dessert will finish it as well.

If no service charge is added to your bill at a restaurant, a tip of about 10% is appropriate.


As a crossroads for centuries, Malta offers nearly every drink available, of course today that's primarily due to technology and the ease of transportation. Any juice, soft drink, coffee, tea, and milk can be found in this tiny country.

On the alcoholic side of the menu the variety is also impressive for the size of the country, but local wines (and imports from Sicily and other parts of Italy) tend to be a favorite, especially while enjoying a full meal or just a snack. In addition to these are popular international wines, beers, and hard liquors.

Generally speaking, the tap water is safe to drink in Malta, but check with locals for any particular regional differences. Also, many people may have troubles adjusting to the local tap water, as it will most certainly be different from what your system is used to.

This page was last updated: March, 2013