One of the best things about eating out in Gozo is the service. Generally it’s friendly (if they know you, it’s first name basis pretty quickly), most times it’s quick and it certainly isn’t ITS’ (Malta’s Institute of Tourism Studies ‘cum chef school’) cookie-cutter. In fact, it’s often enough quirky, which adds to the enjoyment, unless you’re some up-tight nuevo-yuppy who thinks he’s worthy of silver service and has this need to send back the first couple of bottles because they’re, you know, not quite the thing.
Hey, fool, if it’s got alcohol in it and it ain’t corked, you don’t get to send it back: next time, choose something you like.
So, where to go when you’re up North and peckish? Time for a coffee or lunch: where do I point the wheels?
You want somewhere smart? OK, if you must, you must, though this is Gozo after all, so chill an’all that, so there’s Tmun, Victoria and Ta’ Frenc for smart dining, right up there amongst the best. Me? I tend towards the more casual end of the spectrum, so close to home, there’s Oleander in Xaghra Square – a leisurely Sunday lunch on one of the outside tables; if the weather’s friendly, it’s as close to bliss as you can get legally.
Don’t jump down my throat, but you can also have fun in Marsalforn, the Bugibba-in-the-North disadvantages notwithstanding. Il-Pulena, in the Menqa, serves up seriously good pizza and other basic stuff, and as far as I’m concerned, a weekday lunch in early spring is the best reason for playing hooky from the real world.
Just back along the harbour-front, towards what must be the least busy Police Station in the country (in winter, anyway) is the Calypso Hotel, where you get a good coffee and can relax a morning while the missus is off getting her hair done or whatever it is people do on a Saturday morning. Alternatively, there’s it-Tokk, in Rabat, with something like six coffee shops intemingling, amongst them the original Jubilee, and the Central, where the Marocchino is luxurious.
After your siesta, which is de rigeur, you’ll need a coffee to clear the cobwebs and, a bit later (you don’t want anyone thinking you’re too fond of a drop) a g&t or something on those lines, to set you up for the evening. Here’s where somewhere like Xlendi comes into the picture – if you can bag a table at the edge, where the beach wall serves as an excellent foot-rest, you’re chilling with the best of them. When you get hungry, walk (yes, walk) to La Terrazza, where “location, location, location” isn’t used to detract from the obligation to provide excellent pizza (you’ve noticed I like pizza?)
It’s the dinner hour, so off you go: Tatita’s in San Lawrenz or Tmun, down the other end of the island in Mgarr (yes, there are two Tmuns) will hit the spot, as will Wileg in Qala or Maji in Rabat.
So there you go, a few places to satisfy the inner man – they’re not the only ones available in Gozo, by a long shot and I’ve probably left a few out.