Whilst staying at the not-so-grand Grand in Gozo, we chose to eat out most nights. On arrival at Mgarr Harbour, our taxi driver pointed out stairs leading down to an area ‘full of restaurants’. There were perhaps not as many as we’d anticipated, and although it was only mid-September, Sammy’s appeared to have closed for the season, whilst others were not open every night. However, we found sufficient choice for our five night stay.
Geppetto – was open throughout our stay, and having booked, we had the option of a table in the indoor restaurant, a covered terrace, or an uncovered one on the opposite side of the narrow street. It was one of the smaller restaurants, and as it didn’t attract large groups, was quieter. We ordered a bottle of Marsovin white wine and San Pellegrino sparkling water, which came accompanied by a shelf which ingeniously clipped on to the railing at the side of our table to give us more space. Our single starter of Gbejna fritta (fried cheese) with cherry jam was good, but the shared main of slow-cooked pork belly was divine: melting pork sandwiched between crisp thin crackling and a crisp bottom. It was accompanied by coleslaw and gravy, which sounds weird but worked, and a small dish of sauteed potatoes and roasted courgettes and peppers. We skipped dessert and finished with coffee which was served with an amaretti biscuit, and having ordered an amaretto and a grappa, found our bill of €55 arrived with complimentary shots of limoncello.
Sicilia Bella – when open was busy, and we got the last unreserved table on the terrace. We were served complimentary bruschetta and unnecessary rolls, before opting for simple pasta dishes, Sedani beef with tomato and gnocchi with prawns. The latter had lots of small prawns, and three unpeeled ones which were messy to undress and trying to open the wet wipe with greasy fingers was even more difficult. However, all was delicious and eaten to the accompaniment of a rather dramatic lightening show and a decent bottle of white wine. As we left the rain began and the gazebo’s plastic blinds were being unfurled.
Ta’ Tona – was obviously popular when open, but we’d stopped by to reserve earlier in the day. This was a good move as although it was quiet on arrival at 7pm, it was soon rammed to the gills with people being turned away. The house wine, served in a tall, elegant bottle with stopper, was a remarkable €13.90. Complimentary canapes of boat shaped pastry cases filled with pate were served along with a basket of warm bread. Pasta came in small or large size portions, and although we both chose the smaller size, they were very generous. Once again, I had gnocchi but this time with lots of strong cheese and black pepper, whilst our other dish was linguine with frutti de mare. Service was a little slow as it was so busy and despite indulging in a second bottle of wine, our bill, with complimentary shots of limoncello, was just under €60.
Whilst these places were relatively near our hotel, we ventured slightly further afield.
Mgarr Marina Yacht Club had both a restaurant and a floating bar on a pontoon slightly further away. Having passed the restaurant and booked a table, we continued for drinks on the pontoon, reach by a long jetty. Here we had a couple of G&T and watched the clouds scud along and had an eye level view of the ferries going in and out. On arrival at the restaurant, we were presented with paper menus but found the wine list only available on a tablet. However, it was user friendly and I chose a bottle of Gozitan wine, whilst the sparkling water was rather bizarrely Harrogate Spring Water. I tried to converse with the Serbian restaurant manager as to why they chose Yorkshire water, and although he was very pleasant and chatty, didn’t really get a straight answer. A complimentary paper bag of warm bread came with oil and delicious soft cheese. From the small plates area, we opted for one from each of four sections: pizza fritti (a warm, small, folded pastry filled with cheese), fish ceviche (which we were told was lampuki, the Maltese name for the dorado or mahi-mahi), sausage coil (served on a sauce made with gherkins with a slight hit of chilli), and meatballs (in a rich tomato sauce). It was all excellent and really well presented.
We ate well in Gozo and the flight of 30 steps followed by a steep road back to our hotel every night, helped to keep the pounds at bay.