The essence of the things we love at Giuseppi’s

Giuseppi's Bar and Bistro

Anyone foodie in Malta knows of the quaint little restaurant in the townhouse in Mellieha that goes by the name of Giuseppi’s. A few of the more regulars will know that sadly, this place has closed down. But it is only the building we’ve lost, as chef patron Michael Diacono, has taken the concept, to the Salini Resort.

For decades, chef Michael Diacono has brought his inimitable style to a quaint Mellieha townhouse, which felt more like nanna’s house than a restaurant. The food was similarly comforting – fresh ingredients, a cooking style that respected every part of the dish, and that unmistakable attention to detail that really made Giuseppi’s a hidden treasure.

Chef Michael Diacono
Chef Michael Diacono

There may have been tears in my eyes when I learned that Giuseppi’s would be shutting its doors. But Giuseppi’s wasn’t closing down per se. Sure, the townhouse would no longer be a restaurant, but Giuseppi’s was about to open elsewhere. It was with barely concealed glee that I was asked to review the new restaurant.

Giuseppi’s Bar and Bistro
The new Giuseppi.

Perched high above the Coast Road, the new Giuseppi is gorgeous. Part of the newly refurbished Salini Hotel, the restaurant’s outdoor area is a vision in wood textures – dark decking, complemented by a whitewashed bar and beautiful lighting. Despite being outside, there was a distinct feeling of homeliness – the terrace is by no means small but it somehow feels familial, friendly and welcoming.

When it comes to the food, anyone who has eaten at either of Diacono’s restaurants will feel right at home. The menu is small and very carefully curated with a balance of fish, meat and pasta, each more enticing than the last.

I started off with some Maltese sausage and ricotta lunette while my guest chose the crispy rabbit bellies. The pasta was a fusion of familiar ingredients, fresh parcels containing a wonderfully delicate combination of Mediterranean flavours. The light and airy rabbit bellies came with a coriander, ginger and sesame seed salsa, which brought a distinctly Asian flavour to an otherwise Maltese dish.

dish1

After we had eaten more bread and galletti than is advisable, we met our main courses. A stack of coffee-seared tuna steak arrived, much to my guest’s delight, and I may have let out a small gasp when my baked lamb rump appeared. The fish had a wonderful colour gradient and the coffee gave it a distinct (and distinctly delicious) earthiness. The lamb sat on a small mound of hummus and the medium-rare meat lacked that gaminess that sometimes plagues dishes with inferior ingredients. Combined with the roast veg and potatoes, the rosemary and mustard marinated lamb, combing with the hummus, made for a moreish dish, packed with flavor. And that dark, smoky crust? Sublime.

dish2

We only just made it to dessert – both those main courses weren’t exactly tiny and someone forgot to collect the dips, so we had to no choice but to finish them. My guest chose the chocolate cheesecake, a light and not-too-sweet creation that perfectly rounded off a meal punctuated by rich flavours and bold combinations. I didn’t even need to read the whole dessert menu – I stopped when I saw the churros. I had never seen the deep-fried pastry on any menu locally, so I had to try them. Soaked in cream, accompanied by strawberry slices, and glistening with a coating of sugar and cinnamon, these tubular creations were all I could have hoped for and more.

The good things in life never cease, they just continue on in new and unexpected places.

Giuseppi’s Bar and Bistro
Salini Resort, Naxxar
Tel: 21574882
Facebook: giuseppisrestaurant

© 2016 – VIDA Magazine – Rachel Agius