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Latini Restaurant is the place you should visit to make your Gozo stay extra special

Latini Restaurant is a family-run restaurant in the centre of Xaghra, perfectly located, serving amazing food.

Summertime is with us. Sun is shining, and living is easy. With many of us still not sure about resuming our travels abroad, Gozo has meantime cemented itself as the destination of choice for those much beloved weekend breaks.

Latini Restaurant in Xaghra, Gozo

More time in Gozo has given us at OMGFoodMalta more opportunities to explore the island's culinary delights, whilst also re-visiting old time favourites. One of these is Latini Restaurant in Xaghra. The restaurant is in the town centre, in a beautiful piazza where the church is the main attraction, and embraced around it are a series of restaurants which characterise the area.

We had dined at Latini Restaurant with friends a couple of years ago. At the time we were seriously impressed and vowed to visit again sooner rather than later. Then the pandemic hit, and the next visit was much later than expected. So when we recently had the opportunity to visit again, we were excited and curious. Had things changed? Would the food still be so good?

Eating breaded mozzarella at Latini Restaurant

We arrived at Latini Restaurant on a glorious sunny day. Upon sitting at the table and sorting out food orders, we were soon greeted with hummus and a small taster of some velvety potato soup.

We couldn’t have asked for better seats, located right in front of the piazza and opposite the church. The place is delightful, the open space embraced by a series of vernacular buildings in what is thankfully a yet spoiled area.

We also had the opportunity to talk to Brian Zammit, the chef at Latini Restaurant. Brian told us how the name ‘Latini’ came when they opened their original restaurant 16 years ago in Marsalforn. The name is of course influenced by the ‘Daghjsa tal-Latini’, which is familiar to us Maltese. It is a name which is strongly connected to the sea and our Mediterranean roots.

Prawn Carpaccio at Latini Restaurant

This was immediately evident in the Prawn Carpaccio served to us as a starter, and what a great one it was. The presentation was very colourful, with thin slices of prawns decorated with blood orange slices, passion fruit and seaweed. The fresh prawns lent a sweet and clean taste which combined with the citrus flavour, made for a very refreshing start to the dinner.

Duck pancakes were next. A centuries-old dish from Beijing, duck pancakes are normally served with a variety of condiments which everyone can wrap up their own portion. Here, we had our work cut out with a fancy-looking presentation where each pancake was wrapped and ready to be eaten.

Duck pancakes at Latini Restaurant

The pancakes were light, enclosing some very tasty duck shavings of crispy skin and meat full of oriental aromas, and accompanied by a very enjoyable berry compote.

Rabbit liver on toasted bread, with liver pate and berry compote was served next. Liver pâté is about as classically French as you can get and it’s a dish that rarely fails to win people over.

Along with liver, it can rarely fail to entice, unless you are one of those who has hated cooked liver since childhood. This was not some pan-fried liver which ends up hard and grainy. The liver was smooth and buttery, perfectly cooked with flowing juices all soaked up by the bread.

Liver pate at Latini Restaurant

Completing this poker of starters was a couscous-coated mozzarella, with a heart of aubergine dip and tomato. The crispy coating combined with soft mozzarella was quite enjoyable and we finished it all without any problem.

Breaded mozzarella at Latini Restaurant

In one round we had already experienced some Mediterranean, French, Italian and Asian-influenced cuisine. Such diversity of dishes reflects the attitude of Chef Zammit in the kitchen of Latini Restaurant. Not one who likes to stick to one style, he confesses to having various influences, and not one particular type of cuisine, though the added focus is given on fresh Mediterranean foods. This freshness is amply reflected in the dishes.

The fish platter, our main dish for the afternoon, was a prime example of such freshness. Consisting of mussels, calamari, king prawns and tuna fish cakes, it was a really nice portion. The octopus had a really nice bite to it with a slight, but very welcome, char-grilled taste. The prawns were fresh and bursting with flavour, whilst the tuna fish cakes were very meaty.

Seafood platter at Latini Restaurant

Dessert time was a real treat. First up was a very rich dark chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream. The brownie was all one could expect, warm and soft, quite gooey, but most of all, rich in texture.

Next up was a delicious pear crumble, lightly spiced with cinnamon and ginger and enhanced with sultanas. The whole combination made for a wonderfully comforting winter dessert, which for a brief moment took us away from this hot June afternoon, and transported us to a wonderful winter Christmas time.

Brownies with ice cream at Latini Restaurant

Finally, completing the afternoon was a slice of date tart with vanilla ice cream, which was very Maltese, and also quite a heavy way of ending the dinner. It was also a very sweet and tasty way of ending it.

Pear crumble at Latini Restaurant

By now lunch time clients had all left so we took the opportunity to have a chat with Brian about his experience in catering, as well as recent events. Brian has been a chef for 17 years and was the one who opened the original Latini Restaurant in Marsalforn.

Date tart  at Latini Restaurant

When they recently moved to Xaghra, most of the people knew them as ‘Latini’ so they decided to stick with the name. Brian’s favourite dishes are rabbit and lamb, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s making them for himself “I find more joy and satisfaction in cooking for others”.

Brian also told us the pandemic, like other places, has been hard on Latini Restaurant, “we used to work round the clock and all of a sudden were asking ourselves how we would manage to keep our workers”. The worst thing about such a pandemic is the uncertainty, “You never know what is coming. Last summer, we managed to work in Gozo somehow. The recent lockdown was a new blow, but hopefully, we’ll recover”.

Enjoying brownies at Latini Restaurant

Our job at OMGFoodMalta is to give you our opinion about restaurants and in this case, we cannot tell you anything other than good things. Latini Restaurant is an honest family-run restaurant serving lovely food. It is a place where fish is the king, but there are other gems you should look out for.

Most importantly, for Brian the quality of the food prevails because all dishes are made with love, ‘in the kitchen, I feel like I’m in heaven!’.


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