When you think summer you think beautiful cocktails by the sea enjoyed in the company of friends and great snacks to keep you from getting a little bit too happy. If this what your (summer) dreams are made of then Il-Gabbana in Sliema is the place to be.
Set in its stellar location since 1956, Il-Gabbana in Tower Road Sliema surely needs no introduction. From selling milk related products in the 50s to presenting delicious food and drinks made with top notch ingredients, Il-Gabbana has come a long way and immediately banishes the perception of it being your regular run of the mill Maltese ‘gabbana’, yet it still prides itself in being a family run business.
What’s great about Il-Gabbana is that you can either soak up the sun on the dainty yellow chairs, or if the sun is too hot for you, you can retire into the shade.
Upon arriving, owner Nicky Pace greeted me with a variety of innovative cocktails to try out because as the saying goes, it’s five o’clock somewhere! The two signature gin and tonic drinks are made with innovative ingredients, such as cherry blossom tonic water, pink peppercorns and raspberries in the Pink 47 gin, giving it a girly, bubbly pink tint which made it so much fun to drink! Elder flower tonic water, cucumber and juniper berries infused perfectly with Hendrick’s gin makes for one of my preferred drinks on a hot Summer’s day. I also got to try out Il-Gabbana’s Twisted Spritz. This concoction of Aperol, muddles tangerine and club soda for an oh so tangy taste!
As I perused the drinks menu, I was truly impressed with the collection of drinks available. From gin to tequila to whiskies, you are guaranteed to get your alcoholic fix at Il-Gabbana. A bottle of smooth wine would be absolutely lovely on a Tuesday night at Il-Gabbana, with live music playing weekly during summer. Alternatively, you can delight in a non-alcoholic beverage, for instance a freshly pressed juice or a milkshake.
Post cocktails it was time for my favourite part; the food! I was lucky enough to have an array of dishes to try out along with my colleague. The garlic focaccia and calamari fritti hit just the right spot, perfectly seasoned and bursting with flavour. We then moved on to the halloumi and veg salad and tuna salad. How often do you actually get fresh tuna steak when ordering a salad?!
The vongole pasta was again a treat! Nicky explained that everything is made using the best, freshest ingredients, including Rummo pasta. No wonder everything is so scrumptious! The pizza dough made with Caputo flour has the perfect crunchy crust, along with the 24 hour slow cooked pork shoulder which makes the pulled pork bun so satisfying!
If you would like to keep it local, opt for a traditional ‘hobz biz-zejt’ with the bread being baked locally by a Sliema baker. And why not pair it with Il-Gabbana’s very own imported Greek Septem beer?
Il-Gabbana is open from 8am until 11pm, making it the quintessential spot for breakfast, lunch, dinner or drinks. Since Il-Gabbana is such an exceptional bistro, I strongly suggest that your book a table in advance when choosing to visit.
© 2016 – VIDA Magazine – Fran Farrugia