In the heart of the Mediterranean lies the picturesque island of Malta. Known not only for its rich history and stunning landscapes. But also for its delicious culinary offerings. One staple food item that has become an inherent part of Maltese gastronomy is pastizzi. A savoury pastry that has captured the hearts and taste buds of locals and visitors alike.
Let’s embark on a mouthwatering journey as we delve into the world of pastizzerias in Malta.
What is a Pastizz?
The story of pastizzi in Malta dates back centuries. Maltese believe that pastizzi were inspired by Middle Eastern and North African cuisine. Brought to the island by Arab influences during various historical periods. Over time, locals transformed these influences into a unique and beloved pastry.
Pastizzi are a traditional Maltese savoury food snack. Having a flaky filo-type pastry. The pastry is like the Greek phyllo dough. Filled with either mushy peas with a hint of curry or ricotta cheese. Referred to as pea cakes and cheese cakes. Known in Maltese as pastizzi pizelli and pastizzi rikotta. Over the years variations with other fillings have emerged. As chicken, anchovy and Nutella fillings.
The pastry is thin and made of several crispy layers with fat between each sheet. Adding to the delicious flaky quality when baked. The golden-brown, crispy exterior encases the tasty filling. The pastry is folded into a diamond-shape. The diamond-shaped fold of the pastry is according to the filling. Cheesecakes are folded down the middle. Pea cakes are turned down the side. Pastizzi are baked to perfection. Creating a delightful contrast between the crunchy shell and the creamy interior.
Pastizzerias sell another type of pastizz known in Maltese as pastizzi tax-xema’. The difference lies in the pastry dough. Pastizzi tax-xema’ are made out of puff pastry. The round puff pastry one is filled with ricotta. Whilst the diamond-like shape one is filled with peas.
Pastizzi are best served hot. But not piping hot straight from the oven! The traditional pastizz sells at 50c. Pastizzi tax-xema’ come at a higher price. Pastizzi sold by bars and cafeterias are more expensive.
Exploring the Pastizzerias in Malta
Pastizzerias in Malta are famous for pastizzi (plural of pastizz). It is from this staple food item that these outlets get their name.
Whilst visiting the Maltese islands experience the authentic taste of pastizzi. Venture into a traditional pastizzeria. The tempting smell of this street food snack is sure to draw you in! Pastizzerias are found in every locality. All these shops are family-owned. Hence, they have been perfecting the art of pastizzi making for generations. Here are some of the most renowned pastizzerias. Those that have become synonymous with this Maltese delight.
Crystal Palace better known among locals as “Tas-Serkin”. Nestled in the charming village of Rabat. Is a historic pastizzeria that has been serving locals and tourists since 1904. Considered to be one of Malta’s famous landmarks. Its rustic charm and traditional atmosphere make it a go-to spot. For those seeking an authentic pastizzeria experience. Known for its dedication to preserving traditional recipes. “Is-Serkin” offers a taste of the past while still adapting to the modern palate. In the opinion of many locals, this pastizzeria serves the best pastizzi on the island.
Throughout the years some franchises have set up shop in Malta and Gozo. As Jeff’s Pastizzeria, Sphinx Pastizzeria and Mr Maxims.
Jeff’s Pastizzeria has several shops scattered around Malta. With its commitment to using high-quality ingredients. Jeff’s Pastizzeria has become a leader in the Maltese culinary scene.
Sphinx Pastizzeria has been satisfying cravings for pastizzi since 1995. The company invested in a factory to cater for all its outlets. It also took over the popular Champ pastizzeria chain. To increase its market share the company diversified its products. It added new specialty items such as the mango rib pie, burger pie, arancini and Wudy rolls.
Pastizzi from Mr Maxims are one of the best you can taste. They have a generous amount of filling with a delicious crispy, buttery pastry. Mr Maxims first shop opened in 1958 in Qormi. Back then the shop sold only pastizzi. It did not have a display so pastizzi were sold straight from the oven.
Exploring the Delicious World of Pastizzerias in Malta
The menu diversity at pastizzerias reflects the evolving tastes of the Maltese people. Along with the desire to cater to a broad audience. Whether you’re in the mood for a quick snack or a hearty meal. To a sweet indulgence, pastizzerias in Malta have something for everyone.
Savour the iconic taste of the Maltese pastizzi. While the classic ricotta and mushy pea fillings remain the favourites. Creative variations have emerged over the years to cater to diverse tastes. Some pastizzerias experiment with different fillings. The likes of chicken, anchovies and Nutella. Offering a modern twist on this timeless snack.
Beyond the beloved pastizzi, Malta’s pastizzerias offer a variety of other delicious treats. To please various tastes. These outlets have evolved to become more than hubs for the iconic pastry. Expanding their menus to include a variety of mouthwatering options.
One delightful companion to pastizzi is qassatat. Qassatat are made of shortcrust pastry and filled with a range of ingredients. While ricotta and peas remain popular choices. You find qassatat with spinach filling, anchovies or even tuna and spinach. These savoury pastries showcase the versatility of Maltese culinary creativity.
Many pastizzerias have embraced the universal love for pizza. While the Maltese interpretation may differ from the traditional Italian style. Pastizzerias in Malta and Gozo serve oily, cheesy pizzas cut into squares. It remains a popular choice among locals and visitors alike. With a range of toppings, allowing customers to customise their pizza experience. With the local’s favourite being “pizza taż-żebbuġ” being a pizza with tomatoes, cheese and olives.
Pasta bakes are also a local’s favourite. Baked pasta dishes found their way to the menus of pastizzerias. Like ross il-forn (baked rice) and lasagna. The most popular pasta dish being the traditional Maltese timpana. This hearty dish consists of pasta, minced meat, tomato sauce and a pastry crust. It reflects the comforting, homely flavours cherished in Maltese cuisine.
Several pastizzerias sell another Maltese delicacy, the “ftira biż-żejt”. This is a traditional Maltese bread. Filled with tomato paste, dipped with oil and topped with a variety of ingredients. Toppings range from tomatoes, olives, capers to tuna and onions. It serves as a great alternative for those seeking a filling meal.
Pastizzerias also serve a selection of pies, tortellini and sausage rolls.
To complement the delectable pastries pastizzerias serve a selection of beverages. From traditional Maltese soft drinks like Kinnie. To hot beverages like tea and coffee. There’s always a refreshing option to go with your chosen pastry.
The Pastizzeria Experience
Walking into a pastizzeria in Malta is not only about indulging in delightful pastry. But about immersing oneself in the local culture. The experience goes beyond the taste. It’s about the aroma of freshly baked pastizzi, pizza and qassatat wafting through the air. Watch as the pastizzar places these savoury snacks on large metal trays. To be baked in large electric or gas ovens.
As you step into these charming shops, you’ll be met with a community atmosphere. As customers gather to enjoy a quick snack or a chat. From locals grabbing a quick breakfast on their way to work. To tourists seeking an authentic Maltese culinary experience. Pastizzerias themselves give out a warm and welcoming ambiance. Reflecting the Maltese tradition of hospitality.
You will come across several pastizzerias which do not provide any seating. These act as street food outlets. Whereby customers can buy food over the counter as takeaway.
The Role of Pastizzi in Maltese Culture
Pastizzi are more than a popular snack in Malta. They are ingrained in the cultural fabric of the island. Whether enjoyed as a quick bite on the go or as part of a relaxed meal at a snack bar. Pastizzi are a symbol of shared moments and community. With locals recalling childhood memories of enjoying these savoury pastries.
The social aspect of dining at pastizzerias remains a key element. Locals often gather at these outlets to share a meal. Catch up with friends or to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere. Pastizzerias with their selection of food, have become inclusive spaces. Who welcome people from all walks of life.
Besides, pastizzi have become an essential element of Maltese celebrations and festivals. It is common to find pastizzerias bustling with activity during local feasts and events. Where people come together to savour the flavours of the island.
The word pastizzi has a variety of uses in the Maltese language. Such as “jinbiegħu bħall-pastizzi” which in English means selling like hot cakes.
In conclusion, while pastizzi may steal the spotlight. Other food items at pastizzerias continue to captivate the hearts. These food items contribute to the variety of Maltese cuisine. Pastizzerias play a significant role in preserving culinary traditions. So, the next time you find yourself in Malta. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the delightful world of pastizzerias. Step into one to explore the full range of delights on the menu. You might discover a new favourite among the diverse and delicious menu.