Exquisite culinary combinations at L'Artiglio

Perhaps the city with most promising new restaurants is Valletta. But what distinguishes one from another? What makes one individual restaurant worth your lunch money? NICOLA COLLINS heads down to the newly opened L’Artiglio Ristorante to see what the buzz is all about.

14 July 2017, 4:13pm
A short detour from the hustle and bustle of the popular Republica Street onto Melita Street in Valletta, among the beautifully traditional baroque buildings, is the L’Artiglio Ristorante. Newly opened in January.

Open for lighter lunches from midday until 2.30pm and evening meals from 7pm until 10.30pm, L’Artiglio welcomes passers-by and bookings alike, however, booking is recommended where possible, particularly at the weekend.

Stefan Borg Olivier and Janine Camilleri
Stefan Borg Olivier and Janine Camilleri
Greeted by restaurant manager Stefano Borg Olivier and shown to my table I immediately start to understand why this restaurant stands out from other Mediterranean ones. They truly create a dining experience with a difference. With over 10 years’ experience, Stefano heads a young and enthusiastic front of house team who show an understandable pride in their work. A spotless environment with an open kitchen where diners can enjoy the view of the chefs preparing meals and adding that final artistic touch before dishes are served to the table.

Introduced to their eclectic menu of the day I see that each dish is based on local foods presently in season. It is here learnt why each day a different menu is presented to customers. The very core of their menu ensures ultimate freshness and great taste combinations. I enjoy a serving of traditional bigilla with Maltese bread while I peruse the menu with staff on hand to explain to me any of the dishes.

It was a fantastic opportunity meet head chef Janine Camilleri. We chat about each dish and I ask for any recommendations.  Janine’s response, in one sentence, showed the passion put into every dish created.  “If there was something I wouldn’t recommend, it wouldn’t be on the menu”. Janine’s first catering role was at the tender age of 16 and she always knew her true love was food. Her chef team are also young, Janine welcomes ideas and together they create, try, adapt and produce dishes based on complimentary tastes, fresh ingredients, textures and attention to detail.

Menu choices made, I am treated to a coconut milk and prawn bisque mousse amuse bouche, delicately setting my palate for the courses to follow. I choose a starter of baked Camembert, flavoured with rosemary and garlic, topped with delectable onion relish and served with toasted bite-sized Maltese bread, shortly followed by tasters of their char-grilled octopus, acquerello rice, nero di sepia and saffron aioli and pea soup topped with crispy ham hock, comprising vibrant colours of black, green and yellow between them.

Next up was a crudité, a trio of tartare – tuna and avocado, salmon and wakame, seabass and tobiko, served with soy and citrus dressings. Deliciously mingled flavours, colours and textures including the gentle popping sensation of the tobiko. I enjoy a main of Barbary duck breast with peach and mint puree and grilled fennel.

I decline dessert. Each one is as tempting as the other courses, however I can’t possibly manage another bite. Luckily I know I will be returning to L’Artiglio and leaving space to try their Earl Grey crème brûlée will certainly be on my ‘to do’ list.

L’Artiglio Ristorante   

62 Melita Street 

Valletta           

Tel: 2247 6601

Web: www.lartiglio.com.mt           

Email: [email protected]

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