One of the things that often surprises first time visitors to Gozo is the island’s unique cuisine and the quality and wide range of produce grown here. People are also impressed that Gozo has three vineyards and a boutique brewery, and also produces organic sea-salt, olive oil, honey and local cheese.
Our Guide to a Gozo Taste Experience provides a little background to what you can expect. And now food lovers wanting to learn more about Gozo’s wonderful cuisine can enjoy a guided gastronomy evening run by one of our most popular restaurants – Maldonado Bistro, located in Gozo’s capital, Victoria.
We talked with George Zammit, owner of Maldonado Bistro to find out more about the company and the food and wine tasting events – Gastro Gozo – they offer for our guests which you can book on our things to do page.
Can you tell us about Maldonado Bistro – when it all began, the type of food, the location etc?
I opened Maldonado Bistro in October 2008. First of all I had bought a house to reside in which had a big cellar underneath. Then I discovered there was a small house behind my house which I purchased so I can connect with my cellar. I got a permit and license and the rest is history.
Our menu focuses on Mediterranean cuisine while celebrating local genuine produce. By being Mediterranean we truly take a 360 approach and make sure our menu is inspired by several influences such as Spain, France, Italy, Greece, North Africa and the Middle East.
We are not in a square and neither by the sea. We are situated off the city centre. We have done our best to create an oasis where visitors make a discovery and forget the world while dining with us.
In 2017 we refurbished a space above the bistro to increase kitchen space. The room is another dining room with its own open kitchen. While we use the space for kitchen preparation during the day, we use the space for wine tastings, cooking classes, and open kitchen private dining.
What is your role? And who else is in your team?
I am the owner and run the show. While I am occupied organising matters for the bistro, I am hands-on to host our gastronomic experiences such as our wine tastings and cooking classes.
I am fortunate to have a great team that take care of Maldonado’s service. Currently Istvan is my head chef while my front of house is led by Raphael and Milica.
Can you tell us a little about the gastronomy events that you offer?
We organise wine tastings and cooking classes in our open kitchen upstairs.
The wine tasting is a great opportunity to discover more about local wines. Guests get to enjoy a flight of six to eight premium local wines. The wine tastings are complimented by a dinner which is prepared and plated by one of our chefs in the actual open kitchen.
Cooking classes are held twice a week at the moment mainly on Monday or Wednesday and Friday. Here we have two sets of recipes depending on the day guests book. On Monday/Wednesday we do our own representation of typical street food classics such as bigilla, pastizzi, Gozitan ftira, and nougat. On Friday we prepare three-course lunch consisting of sfineg, bragioli and mqaret.
Our gastronomic events – branded Gastro Gozo – have been quite successful because guests get the opportunity to see the behind the scenes of our bistro, meet new people, and get a more personalised experience led by the owner of the bistro himself. It is a truly social activity where the objective is to feast and share a common love for food.
Are these events run all year round?
Maldonado Bistro is one of the few places on Gozo that opens all year round. Be it winter or summer we open all week from Monday to Sunday. We don’t do shutdowns and it is a rare occasion that we close for a night.
We try our best to keep our gastronomic events going all year round. It all depends on bookings but rest assured that we will not spoil the party if somebody makes a request.
For the summer we do wine tasting twice a week. In the winter we would organise once a week but still leave the door open for an extra private seating. Cooking classes are scheduled twice a week from May to October.
How did you come up with the idea of combining a walking tour of Victoria with wine and food tasting?
Basically Victoria is the capital city of the island of Gozo and the evening is the best time to visit. The temperature is milder and the city calms down after a hectic day full of visitors and traffic.
In the evening we believe the walking tour entices guests residing outside Victoria to come in, discover the city and end the night with a feast. Guests get to discover the backstreets of the old city centre while visiting the Cittadella and to enjoy the sunset.
How many people do you have on a typical walking and wine tasting and gastronomy event?
Our wine tastings can seat from 10 to 16 people. For the walking tour we normally cater for six to eight people as some guests just opt for the wine tasting.
What's the best review you've ever received?
I think the best review was when a guest actually wrote that they would love to move to Gozo just because of us. That really touched us as we succeed in making a real connection and lasting connection with one of our customers.
[For Trip Advisor reviews click here.]
Do you have any new plans for 2019 or 2020?
We would like to set up a wine club for our local customers so we can do tastings of a mix of local and international wines. This is something we hope to introduce this coming winter. We would also like to extend our cooking classes programme to locals who would like to learn how to cook some of the signature dishes we serve on our menu.
Do you enjoy your work? What do you enjoy most?
If you don’t enjoy running a restaurant then you simply should not do it. It can be time consuming and demanding. I also make it a point to staff that if they don’t like to meet people, then they should not work in hospitality.
Running and working in a restaurant can be a lovely experience. You meet a lot of new people from all parts of the world. Most importantly you can share experiences and make a lot of new friends. How can you not love that?
What do you think makes Gozo’s food and wine so special?
We are the little island that could. Even though we are a small place, we have a big heart and pride in what we do. We have big expectations on ourselves and strive to serve nothing better than the best. We are a small community and you will not get away with short cuts. Therefore if you set out to do something, either you get it right or you pack up.
How long have you been working with Baron Holiday Homes?
We have been collaborating with Baron Holiday Homes since 2016. It is a very dynamic relationship which gets stronger and stronger.
Can you pick up BHH guests from their rental property?
Yes. Certainly. We offer a complimentary pick up service for our guests.
Here's what one of our guests had to say about the gasto Gozo tour:
We found the walk very interesting and the wine tasting/food a most enjoyable and educational experience. Our host was friendly and a great salesman for Gozitan produce.He also demonstrated the honesty of the Gozitan people - he realised he’d overcharged us and came to our villa to refund the money! This is certainly an event worth recommending!
Ask us for help
Baron Holiday Homes is happy to organise your gastronomic adventure and other things to do on Gozo.
Just get in touch and we'll also tell you all you need to know about walks near to your rental property, special events in villages nearby, and other local information.
View all blog posts