Malta is a small island in the heart of the Mediterranean, but it has a rich and varied history, one that has seen occupation by the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs, the Normans, the French and the British. And yet, the people have retained their own proud culture, one that is distinct and yet absorbs the myriad of influences that have landed on Malta’s shores over the centuries.
The same for the island’s food and food culture, which is rich and varied, with a strong identity. The best of the island’s gastronomy was on show at an event organised by Charles Grech & Co. Ltd together withThe Phoenicia Malta, on 28 February 2023, in aid of the Malta Community Chest Fund Foundation.
Featuring five of Malta’s Michelin-started restaurants with some incredible chef talent on hand to cook for the lucky guests, ‘Dine with the Stars’ featured a five-course dinner, with each restaurant presenting one dish. It was a collection of the best of Malta’s best culinary talent with Malta’s best chefs all cooking together for one night. With one more restaurant added to the Michelin Guide to Malta in 2023, there are now six starred establishments on the island.
The 2023 edition elevated the Fernandõ Gastrotheque in Sliema, to one-Michelin-star status. The five restaurants that retained their Michelin star status and participated in ‘Dine with the Stars’ are Under Grain, Noni and ION Harbour, all in Valletta; De Mondion in Mdina; and Bahia in Balzan.
Set beneath the Rosselli Hotel in the cellar, with vaulted ceilings, the restaurant is inspired by Merchant Street’s former tailors, with multiple sewing and tailoring references throughout. Here, award-winning Executive Chef Victor Bong has developed a menu based on beautiful Mediterranean ingredients like the fresh fish delivered daily. There is a classic base to the cuisine but with expertly handled modern overtones.
Chef Jonathan Brincat, also known as ‘Noni’, is the founder and co-owner of the restaurant of the same name and is something of a legend in Malta’s fine-dining scene. The menu blends the classic with the influences of Malta’s mercantile culture, with Brincat unafraid to take risks and surprise, but with a cuisine grounded in traditional flavours. Noni is a place for the person that takes fine dining seriously but wants to have fun whilst doing it.
Set on the fourth floor of a hotel with a magnificent view from the terrace over the Grand Harbour, this is an occasion restaurant, serving up a memorable fine-dining experience. Chef Alex Dilling serves up an ingredient-focused cuisine that perfectly harmonises flavours, texture and colour. The atmosphere is stylish but informal, with the whole team coordinating a perfect evening. (Update 15/03/2023: Simon Rogan will be the next chef-patron to take on ION Harbour after Dilling).
De Mondion sits on the top floor of the Xara Palace Hotel, in a 16th-century building in the heart of the old walled city of Mdina. Attention to detail and good taste is everywhere in this restaurant headed up by Executive Chef Clint Grech, from the elegant furnishings to the Maltese artwork collection adorning the walls. The food is accomplished and local ingredients are showcased at their best as sophisticated, classically-based Mediterranean dishes – the suckling pig is a speciality and not to be missed.
Bahia is located on the first floor of the elegant Corinthia Palace Hotel and offers a comfortable, elegant and bright atmosphere. Chef Tyrone Mizzi showcases both knowledge and understanding of history and creativity to invent the future through two menus – ‘Past’, which takes diners on a journey through Mata’s culinary history and ‘Future’, which explores new, innovative and sometimes daring flavour combinations. ‘Present’ is a seasonally changing à la carte menu, which focuses on local ingredients in a contemporary way.