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Palazzo Preca, Valletta, Malta

Palazzo Preca Restaurant (Valletta, Malta)

Palazzo Preca, Valletta, MaltaRamona and Roberta Preca made the perfect choice of location when they opened Palazzo Preca Restaurant in a former palace of a Knight of St. John, built in the 16th century. And with years of culinary experience behind them, the Preca sisters have created one of the top restaurants in Valletta, Malta, a true dining event.

I knew I was going to experience something uncommon when I passed through a cozy vestibule and entered the restaurant via a long main hall with tables for two set with fine linens, terminating at the solid stone pillars supporting a graceful arch. From there, a warren of rooms opens up, from the Sapphire Room for exclusive dinners to the main bar and café areas. The entire restaurant was merely the entrance to the original palace, and the kitchen was the patio. Throughout, high ceilings with exposed wood beams, a wonderful patterned tile floor, arches, and cream-colored stone walls evoke the resplendency of the knight’s palace. And if all that wasn’t enough to set the mood for a fine meal, crystal chandeliers and other electric lighting are turned off on Candlelight Wednesdays for patrons looking for an even more romantic ambience.

Fork and KnifeTry This: I scored with the soup of the day, a comforting lentil-parmesan combination. The mushrooms vol-au-vent, with blue-cheese cream in a pastry case, is a perfect appetizer, but you may like the piscine powerhouse of salmon parcels: prawns, olives, capers, and pink tuna rolled in smoked salmon. You can keep the seafood theme going with your entrée, the pixxispad mixwi — a fantastic grilled swordfish served with a colorful assortment of carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, and potatoes, or you can opt for such savory traditional Maltese dishes like the fenek moqli (rabbit cooked in garlic and simmered in wine) or the haruf il-forn (thin slices of roasted lamb with gravy and mashed potatoes). Make sure you accompany your meal with one of the excellent Maltese red or white wines from a very long list.