It might seem like an odd thing to say, but pastizzi are one of the cornerstones of Maltese culture. Their aroma scents every other street due to the abundance of pastizzeriji in Malta; they’re eaten at literally every single time of day, from breakfast to dinner to 5 a.m. after wild nights out; and they’re one of the first things that any newcomer to Malta will inevitably hear about.
So sampling a pastizz (or two, or three) is a must when in Malta, and that’s non-negotiable. Sure, these inexpensive, flaky pastries are far from being the healthiest thing around, but that’s why you’ll have to simply consider them as sinful treats and show some self-restraint with them!
Don’t bite blindly into your first pastizz, though! This article will tell you everything you need to know about this local scrumptious snack.
There are more flavours now than tradition suggests
Pastizzi are traditionally known for coming in one of two main fillings: pea (pastizzi tal-pizelli) and ricotta cheese (pastizzi tar-rikotta). These have been the two staple pastizzi flavours for years and years, and even now they’re easily the most popular and common variations around.
However, if you’re looking for more adventurous pastizzi, you’re in luck, as quite a few pastizzeriji have decided to introduce some newer variations. Chicken pastizzi are growing in popularity, and if you look hard enough you’ll even find rabbit and peppered steak pastizzi!
The steady rise of Nutella pastizzi has furthermore challenged the idea that pastizzi have to be a savoury treat!
Pastizzi come in different types
Pastizzi are most commonly made with philo-pastry, resulting in its iconic flaky texture. If you prefer something a bit less messy, though, you can also find pastizzi made with puff pastry. These are known as pastizzi tax-xema, and are no less delicious!
If you’re looking for something somewhat more substantial when you have a pastizzi craving, you could also opt for an qassata, which is a kind of larger, rounder pastry (a bit like a small pie) that is made of puff pastry and contains the same fillings you’ll get with regular pastizzi. Qassatat are also commonly filled with spinach (and sometimes anchovies).
You can get them at all kinds of vendors
Sure, pastizzi might be most commonly associated with street pastizzeriji like Maxims, Champs, Sphinx, and so on (we can’t mention every single known pastizzerija – it’s impossible). While it’s very possible to get your pastizzi-fix on the go thanks to these places, there are other options you can check out.
Pastizzi are also commonly served at cafés, restaurants, and similar venues. In fact, perhaps the most famous place in Malta to get pastizzi from is the Crystal Palace in Rabat (known as is-Serkin), and that’s actually a bar you can sit at.
Photo credit: Malta Inside Out
Eating at such places could be your preferred option as you can sit comfortably while indulging. It’s also likely that (depending on where you eat at) the pastizzi from restaurants will be a little healthier than the ones you’d get at street vendors. Just a few sit-down places to get pastizzi from are Café Jubilee, Il-Kikkra Café, Mr Maxims Jr Café, and Peristyle.
What do you mean pastizzi can be gourmet?
Photo credit: Pastizzi Gourmet facebook page [https://www.facebook.com/pg/PastizziGourmet/photos/?ref=page_internal]
Eating pastizzi at a restaurant is one thing. Eating pastizzi that the Queen of England could enjoy is another.
Pastizzi Gourmet is the brainchild of Marilu Vella, who has made ingenious steps with the idea that pastizzi can come in an assortment of flavours while still being guilt-free. The pastries you’d get at Pastizzi Gourmet are low-fat and home-made. In fact, you need to contact Marilu in advance (or go to Flora’s café in Naxxar), pick up your preferred batch, and cook them yourself. It’s completely worth it.
You don’t really go to Pastizzi Gourmet for the standard flavours. In fact, even the classics have been updated here (with variations like ‘pea and mint’). The focus here is on more unique takes on the pastizzi. The menu does change every now and then, but just to get an idea, Pastizzi Gourmet offer (or have offered in the past) gozo cheeselet, peppered pumpkin, snail, and tortilla de patatas & chorizo pastizzi – just to name a few!
You can even get dessert pastizzi, and the flavours here too are changed up often. Strawberry & chocolate were once made for Valentine’s, apple & Cinnamon for Lent, and blueberry & strawberry for election season!
You don’t just need to be in Malta to have them
Here’s the really good news – though Pastizzi are definitely a Maltese phenomenon, you can find pastizzeriji all over the world! This is due to Maltese emigration, so pastizzi are most common in areas like Canada, Australia, and the UK.