Sunday lunch at restaurant Tal Familja in Marsaskala (Malta)! Maltese classics on the menu: rabbit, seabream, ricotta stuffed ravioli and also bigilla.
The name says it all, because Tal Familja is Maltese for ‘of the family’.
And also because you can take that literally. We discovered this awesome spot while walking around in our Marsaskala neighborhood. After a brief look at the menu (full of traditional Maltese dishes) displayed outside we decided to keep this one in mind.
Like many others we researched Tripadvisor for a second opinion: ‘excellent food’, ‘local family cuisine’, ‘great service’.
There are about 156 reviews on Tal Familja, an average score of 4 out of 5.
And I read quite a lot of the same keywords throughout the majority of the reviews.
But the most important ones are “family Sunday lunch” and “make a reservation”. Got it, did that. We walked in one afternoon and then asked the owner for a table for 2 for next Sunday around noon.
As promised we made out way back to the restaurant that sunny day.
The place was still empty except for another early couple browsing through the menu. A waiter approached us and so did the owner who recognised us and immediately guided us to our table near the bar.
Our first impression: Tal Familja is very neat, cosy, with an authentic rustic interior, wooden racks on the walls filled with bottles of wine.
And then the second and most important impression: apart from the table for 2 next to us the rest of the tables were set for groups of at least 15 to 20 people.
As we were going through the menu a steady flow of locals walked in, dressed in their Sunday best.
The attentive waiter took note of our choice of meals. We both went for the Maltese set 3 course menu (€22). Maltese fresh ricotta ravjul and grilled sea bream for the hubs.
I went for the fried Gozitan cured cheese and the roasted rabbit.
We needed more time to decide on which wine we wanted.
In the meantime the waiter brought us a plate with some appetizers: a handful of snails with garlic, white beans, 2 crostini with tomato bruschetta and then also a good dollop of bigilla. That is a local broad bean dip accompanied by a couple of galletti crackers.
We chose a bottle of dry and fruity fresh Maltese white wine, a blend of vermentino and zibibbo grapes (€10,50).
My husband tasted it and also approved it.
We are off to the good start here!
Robert Plant @ Tal Familja
We nibbled away on the tasty appetizers in front of us, kept an eye on the growing stream of people filling up the restaurant, sipped our wine and noticed a particular picture on the wall: a bunch of blond hair posing for the camera surrounded by the chefs and a waiter.
Did Robert Plant really make a stop at Tal Familja?
The waiter said yes, 3 or 4 years ago. But he seemed more delighted to talk about Alex Ferguson in the picture below. And that American actor in that other picture but what was his name again?
I was more interested in those delicious snails, to be honest.
And the place still keeps on filling up.
I don’t know where all those people are going to, this place must be huge!
We saw 2 girls in a tiny wedding dress walk by: this looks like it is First Communion day here! Glad we made a reservation after all.
Our starters arrived 10 minutes after ordering.
Five huge pieces of ricotta ravioli with a great looking tomato sauce. The pasta is cooked to perfection, the ricotta filling inside melts in your mouth. The tomato is obviously made of fresh tomatoes, onion and garlic simmered until smooth and soft.
Fried Gozo Cheese
Mine also looks great: 8 breaded and wonderfully fried pieces of Gozitan cheese surrounded by fresh basil pesto, a spoonful of the same fresh tomato sauce and a little cream.
Crunchy bits of creamy cheese with a powerful flavor.
It goes well with the tricolor sauces.
My hubby wasn’t as impressed as I was when he tried a bit but I loved it.
Sunday Lunch @ Tal Familja
By the time we finished our starters all the tables were occupied as far as we could see.
Tal Familja was filled with a homey buzz. Plates filled with fresh fish were brought to the tables and then sent back to the kitchen, all empty of course.
Wine corks were popping at a rapid rate.
Another 10 minutes passed and there came our main courses!
Grilled Sea Bream
For hubby: a couple of fatty grilled sea bream fillets with grilled lemon and cherry tomatoes on a bed of soft leeks. The fish was amazing because it was perfectly cooked and flavorful.
The lemon was a nice touch!
With the fish also came a simple side salad of fresh lettuce, tomatoes, olives and salted capers.
Nice meal, cooked with care.
My main: the fried rabbit with garlic and wine.
The meat was tender and succulent. Great sear on the outside.
But what a huge portion! That must have been at least half a rabbit right there, yum.
Also came with a dollop of carrot puree on the side.
The side dishes for the rabbit are crunchy grilled zucchini and cauliflower, cooked potatoes (again sautéed in some butter before serving I guess) and then the best crispy fried onion rings ever!
Sliced thinly, coated with a little egg yolk and a tiny pinch of flour, then fried quickly and served with a good dash of salt.
Another monster portion!
Well that was a generous lunch… Full stomachs, we lean back in our chairs smiling.
And the crowd around us roars on the longer the wine flows.
We finish our glass of wine and order espresso.
It comes with Maltese fried date pastries (imqaret) and fig ice cream, the menu says.
What a wonderful dessert!
Crunchy hot date pockets, we confess these taste better than the ones we had at the Dates Kiosk in Valletta! And then that fig ice cream is also a perfect match: fresh, flavorful and creamy.
We are stuffed by now.
We see that it is well past 2:30pm already.
The check comes: €54,50 for a Maltese food festival at Tal Familja. We said bye to Robert and walked home in the sun.
Time for a Sunday nap…