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‘L-Istorja’ aims to take you on 1 special culinary journey.

Kempinski’s new restaurant ‘L-Istorja’ is one of those places where food is the experience.


Kempinski has a long history, one that goes back to 1897, to be exact. Part of Europe’s oldest luxury hotel group, it has been providing five-star experiences since then. That is why the name of their latest opening, L-Istorja (the history), is quite apt, we thought.


Kempinski _ San Lawrenz _ Gozo _ L-Istorja

The atmosphere draws heavy on stone and warm colors and has a traditional friendly cottage feel to it with its terracotta floors and pieces of conventional dark-wood furniture. Each option on the menu is a combination of flavors ranging from Europe to the Middle East.


L-Istorja banks on flavors from Maltese and Gozitan cuisine, but not only. The idea is to journey patrons through time. Important culinary influences from Maltese culinary history are somehow reflected in the menu. We spoke to Head Chef Trevor Portelli about the food and how the concept of ‘L-Istorja’ came about.


Kempinski _ San Lawrenz _ Gozo _ L-Istorja

“The idea started around eight years ago when we started thinking of changing from Trattoria San Lawrenz to L-Istorja. The original plan was to celebrate the connection between Malta and Sicily, their traditions, and so forth. Then things changed, refurbishments happened, and when we were ready for the change, COVID19 happened.”


Kempinski _ San Lawrenz _ Gozo _ L-Istorja

“We started looking at the overall story of Malta, and it inspired me. I like particular things and wanted to reflect this in the menu. Folklore stories show this country has a long culinary history. All this inspired me to start looking at ingredients and reflect them in the menu.” The resulting menu is a culinary journey through various dishes, and while flipping its pages, you will also get little insights into Maltese history.


Kempinski _ San Lawrenz _ Gozo _ L-Istorja

Almost all dishes were bold and intense, and the Gozitan gbejna somehow had a say in nearly every dish. Soon after being seated and ordering our drinks, we started with our antipasto, which consisted of fagottini with tuna, gbejna espuma, and basil pesto with a sprinkle of chorizo truffle. Quite fancy for an antipasto, but lovely.


Soon afterward, a trolley with a selection of bread and focaccia came. Quite an experience compared to the bread basket you find in most restaurants. The bread and focaccias are made in-house, as are the variety of dips such as tomato paste, baba ganoush, and the like.


Kempinski _ San Lawrenz _ Gozo _ L-Istorja

The Ravioli Al Plin is a Signature Dish comprising a parsley dough with rabbit filling. The pasta is accompanied by a Gozo cheese fondue, rabbit jus, confit tomatoes, and Gbejna praline. The intense rabbit flavor and perfectly cooked pasta al dente made this a favorite of ours. “It is a combination of Maltese and Sicilian traditions. Rabbit is cooked traditionally and flaked to make the filling” Chef Portelli told us.


Kempinski _ San Lawrenz _ Gozo _ L-Istorja

The Beluga Lentils with Asparagus and Gbejna did not inspire us the same way. Quail eggs with gbejna espuma sat on a bed of lentils with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. It was a very light dish, somewhat underwhelming, however, lifted by the Gbejna espuma.


We continued our journey with oysters, having both cooked and raw versions. We love trying out oysters whenever we can! The cooked oysters were served with spinach and Orange hollandaise sauce, while the raw ones were served with pickled shallots, lemon, and tabasco. These were fresh and delightful, especially the raw ones, as only oysters can be.


Kempinski _ San Lawrenz _ Gozo _ L-Istorja

L-Istorja also features a number of ages steak cuts, from which you can select your own piece of meat. The sirloin looked beautiful and tasted delicious. Another amazing dish and probably our favorite were the stuffed calamari with Riso Venere olive and anchovy stuffing, squid ink, potato espuma, and crispy onion and aioli. This dish alone is worth the trip to San Lawrenz! Personally, it took me on a nostalgia trip, back to my childhood days when my parents would prepare fish and combine it with olives, capers, and herbs.


Kempinski _ San Lawrenz _ Gozo _ L-Istorja

Chef Portelli gave us a brief overview of what makes this dish special. “We buy fresh sardines, marinate them, import the finest olives from Italy, and use squid ink for the potato espuma. The calamari is then steamed in a Chinese bamboo basket steamer for around 4 to 5 minutes using tea made from oranges, ginger, and carobs.”


Kempinski _ San Lawrenz _ Gozo _ L-Istorja

While the calamari were a triumph, the Sweet Gbejna is arguably THE signature dish at Kempinski. It consists of a Gozo sheep cheese mousse with a pear gel heart that resembles a cheesecake. It is placed on carob soil and drizzled with organic lemon oil and cracked pistachios. The gbejna is accompanied by sweet bread. As we had said before, this is one of the best and most creative desserts we have had.


Kempinski _ San Lawrenz _ Gozo _ L-Istorja

The Gbejna dessert is not too sweet, so it should be a favorite for people who are looking for something which is not too sweet. It was amazing. “It is a signature dish which has taken a fame of its own now.” Chef Portelli told us. “People come here, especially because of this dessert.”


‘L-Istorja’, at Kempinski Hotel San Lawrenz is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 19:00 – 22:30


Kempinski _ San Lawrenz _ Gozo _ L-Istorja

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