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Surrounded by sparkling Mediterranean seas, Malta is famous for its superb seafood. A small archipelago, Malta has relied on its ample seafood supply for centuries and the country still serves up plenty of flavourful and imaginative fish dishes. Begin your quest for the best seafood in Malta at the most famous fish market on the island, where the catch of the day is delivered directly to the stalls from traditional Maltese luzzu boats. Then, treat yourself to a feast and tuck into local seafood delicacies, choosing between charming, simple seaside restaurants or upscale eateries. Here’s where to discover the very best seafood in Malta.
The Sunday fish market in Marsaxlokk is the place to buy fresh fish and seafood in Malta, and is certainly the liveliest way to spend a Sunday morning on the island. The adorable fishing village of Marsaxlokk is the focal point for Maltese fishing trade and visitors will spot plenty of luzzu (the traditional, brightly coloured fishing boats) bobbing in the harbour here as they deposit their spoils of freshly caught tuna, swordfish and the local delicacy, lampuki. Keep an eye out for the eyes painted on the bow of the boats, which symbolise good health and prosperity.
Enjoy a leisurely stroll around the harbourside market and the stalls, piled high with a fantastic array of locally caught fish. Depending on the season, the varieties of fish available are likely to be sea bass, grouper, white bream and red mullet, in addition to octopus and squid, which are typically used for rich stews and sauces. After working up an appetite on your walk, head to one of the excellent restaurants nearby for a slap up seafood meal. Marsaxlokk has plenty of tempting fishy options but Ir-Rizzu comes highly recommended for a Maltese seafood dinner with all the trimmings. Originally opened by a local fisherman and a firm favourite among locals, this no-frills restaurant delivers authenticity and flavour by the plate load.
Alternatively, head to Dolce Vita in St. Julian’s for elegant fine dining with a seafood focus and spectacular views of Spinola Bay. Reserve a table on the open air terrace and order the tasting plate of fresh seafood to share, which includes fried calamari, whitebait, swordfish and two types of fish carpaccio. Hot dishes include a delectable seafood risotto for two as well as stuffed swordfish filled with raisins, pine nuts and salumi.
Some of the best seafood can also be found across the water in Gozo too. Tmun Mgarr is named after the Maltese for rudder and has been a favourite with both locals and visitors for well over two decades. Try the signature bouillabaisse and leave room for the local red prawn tortelli, made with cuttlefish ink pasta dough.
Wherever you choose, there are several Maltese seafood dishes that visitors must try. Lampuki pie or Torta tal-lampuki should be top of your list. This traditional dish is made from lampuki (otherwise known as mahi-mahi or dorado) and is a kind of Maltese fish pie, consisting of a pastry case stuffed with herbs, vegetables and the lampuki.
Likewise, Aljotta is a quintessential Maltese dish that only uses ingredients either grown on the island or caught off its shores. This rich and fragrant soup is made with tomatoes, olive oil, locally caught fish and white wine, and is a year-round favourite as the type of fish can be adapted to make use of what’s available during each season.