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A Chef and a Foodie on Tour: Tax-Xiħa Restaurant

A Chef and a Foodie on Tour: Tax-Xiħa Restaurant

Take a journey with Emily Francis (Emily in Malta) and Chef Ariel Guivi,  two foreign tour guides to the island of Malta, who flock from one restaurant to the other in search of an authentic dining experience. The best-kept secrets of eating in Malta are about to be shared here with all of you! 

I was recommended to Tax-Xiħa (translation is the little old lady) by a local food connoisseur and let me tell you, his recommendation certainly did not disappoint.

Located right in the heart of Ħaż-Żebbuġ facing the big church on the square, this beautiful restaurant serves up a mammoth of options; both delicious food and a very welcoming atmosphere that will fit the bill for anyone and everyone!

Chef and owner Karl Enriquez does a spectacular job catering to very different menus and themes and yet they are all top-notch. There are three different floors to this one restaurant, all with different menus and themes. The quaint little bistro on the first floor, holds a large bar that has an open window where you can order a drink either inside or outside. This bistro menu includes their wood fire pizza in the traditional Neapolitan style. This implies that they raise the dough for no less than 36 hours, and in their case, they raise the dough for a full 72 hours. This is key for that thin crust and superior quality of the pizza. On that first floor especially, both children and well-behaved pets are welcome!

Next, we head up to the second floor where fine dining and a more intimate setting is offered. Though Karl says because children and pets are welcome, he would not classify it as such. It looks like fine dining; it sounds like fine dining with soft jazz feeding your senses and it tastes like fine dining as the menu is simply exquisite.

This is where Karl served us his local, fresh and signature dishes of Blue Belly Prawn, Swordfish Carpaccio and homemade tagliatelle with red prawns. Whew! Talk about an experience, it was truly sublime! The blue belly prawns are a local treasure that are both rare and locally caught. The blue inside the belly of the prawn are the fish eggs and they are electric blue. It’s wild the brightness of the caviar! The blue belly prawn tastes very buttery and rich and it is served raw. Therefore, it is served with a lime wedge to squeeze over it to reduce the level and taste of the fattiness. I would highly recommend this dish.

Next, the swordfish carpaccio, served with dehydrated beetroot, pickled fennel and tomato salsa. This dish was very fresh and light to the taste. A part of all the dishes that Ariel appreciated as a chef and advocate for local produce and reduction of waste was that all garnishes on each of our dishes were edible, leaving nothing wasted from the plate.

The tagliatelle was rich, hearty and clearly made fresh, likely only hours before serving. The red prawns on top were warm and delicious and the red sauce it was served with was light and mild with the exception of only a hint of black pepper. 

 Each and every dish we sampled was extremely easy to eat and we could taste the freshness of the seafood in each portion. 

The restaurant has even added an extension; ‘ IL-Bejt Tax-Xiħa’, a rooftop restaurant and bar offering a relaxing vibe with wonderful music, a large bar and two smoker grills side by side. The view of the church and the skyline is absolutely breathtaking. It only adds to the ambiance that Karl has done so well in keeping. Up on the roof you can find grilled octopus, smoked brisket and other BBQ specialty meats, as well as lamb chops and even seafood tacos. 

In conclusion, if you are looking for a chill night with delicious pizza and a relaxed atmosphere, come to Tax-Xiħa and find a table inside or outside on the ground floor. If you are looking for a more intimate dining experience with a more high-end menu, take a trip up the first set of stairs and look no further. If you want to bring more people and hang out on the rooftop and have cocktails, bbq and a supreme view of Ħaż-Żebbuġ, this is where the party will be. Make sure you ask for Karl and tell him we sent you!

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