The specials board includes dishes made with the freshest ingredients available on the day
Rachel Zammit Cutajar
Since City Gate was demolished getting to Giannini has become somewhat more difficult with traffic to Hastings taking you half way around Valletta before you actually get there. However this does have its advantages. Because of the detour to get there, people going to Valletta for shopping find parking elsewhere leaving diners with a choice of three parking areas just outside the restaurant.
Sit yourself down at one of the many tables overlooking the stunning Sliema Creek. The décor is a comforting mixture of old vs new, modern furniture and bright colours mixed in with the traditional features of the old building. White linen tablecloths and perfectly polished glassware and cutlery raise the bar that little bit higher.
The menu is short - five starter items and five main items, with a range of fresh fish and meats as well as some vegetarian options. I would always rather have a small selection of food and know that every dish is prepared with fresh ingredients that haven't been sitting around for very long.
There's also a specials board with dishes, again including fish, meat and pasta, that change on a daily basis. Prices vary according to the dish but on average cost €10 for a starter and €25 for a main.
The wine list is extensive with a good selection of bottles coming from both the old and new world. Prices range from the cheap and cheerful at €11 a bottle designed to allow the diner to keep the wine flowing throughout the meal, to the more expensive €75 a bottle for seasoned palates or special occasions.
Aaron's partner Ruth runs the front of house and is happy to make recommendations about food or wine or which wine goes best with which dish.
Before the meal hot homemade bread rolls, a selection of olives, humus and premium olive oil, and a focaccia of hot bread with soft chorizo sausage and Parmesan cheese are served, small details that give the meal that special something else.
Only the freshest ingredients make it into the kitchen and specials change on a daily basis according to what's available - the asparagus wrapped in parma ham includes a lovely surprise of oozy percorino cheese. The warm flavours of cheese, ham and vegetables are contrast with the diced strawberries.
A carpaccio of duck breast served with toasted almonds a perfect sinful dish full of flavour without giving you that full feeling when there is still so much more to come.
The pastas are all home-made - nothing comes in packets - papardelle in a Maltese rabbit sauce or saffron risotto.
The main courses consist of a varied mix of fish and meat dishes - Barbary duck breast served with a Gozo fig conserve, herb-crusted rack of lamb and the freshest local fish all served with a neat stack of millefeuille potatoes, perfectly cooked on the inside with crispy edges.
Whatever you do make sure you leave room for dessert. Home-made mqaret served with an orange coulis with a hint of cloves is a warm bite of heaven, chocolate mousse with raspberry bits and crunchy chocolate pearls on the top add tart and texture to this sweet end to the meal.
As we slowly made our way back to the car, talking about the dining experience. Is Giannini as good as it was back in the days we used to be regulars? The answer is most definitely.
Giannini is open daily for lunch and dinner.
For further information or to reserve a table contact 21237121 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website www.gianninimalta.com