Malta is spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing where to go and eat. When it comes to cuisine, we are a melting pot of everything from Mexican to Vietnamese and everything in-between.
Yet, one new Gżira restaurant is fast becoming known as an eatery elevating Malta’s culinary scene to a higher (and even tastier) level.
Paprika is the island’s first Balkan fusion restaurant, focusing on historic Balkan cuisine while taking it into a whole new level with some impressive culinary standards.
It also claims to be the only restaurant in the world to combine the finest flavours from Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, North Macedonia and Greece – not bad for a Maltese eatery.
The result? A distinctly rich culinary journey beyond anything you’ve sunk your teeth into.
Located on the Gżira waterfront, Paprika offers a beautiful view of Manoel Island while boasting an elegant and sophisticated interior design.
Between this and its warm and welcoming staff and you may just have the perfect place to enjoy a casual dinner or a special occasion.
When dining at Paprika, all you have to do is decide whether to opt for the a la carte menu or – if you’re really new to the cuisine – try a bit of everything with their tasting menu.
All of the beautiful and delicious dishes are drawn from staple Balkan comfort foods, so dining at this spot means you get to eat delicious food and gain priceless knowledge on the cultural heritage of these dishes too.
Through your dining experience, you are truly able to indulge in a journey through the Balkans – a region with diverse and ancient cuisine and heritage.
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Meat-lovers absolutely must start off with the Boskarin Tongue Carpaccio.
In many ways, this is considered to be Paprika’s signature dish, offering a gourmet delicacy out of this rare Croatian veal.
Originating from Istria, one of Croatia’s most beautiful regions, the high-quality meat represents a huge part of the region’s traditional, gourmet cuisine.
Boskarin – which comes from a specific breed – is considered to be a must-try experience for anyone wanting to go to Croatia and is considered one of the country’s greatest delicacies.
Only a few prestigious restaurants serve this decadent veal.
While waiting for your starters or mains, you need to definitely try Ajvar.
Made from roasted red peppers, this rich speciality is considered the King of Balkan dips.
It is an aromatic dip that can be used to spread over bread, as a side dish or even just an addition to further enrich your meal.
To guarantee quality, Paprika makes this iconic dip in-house and sources all produce fresh directly from Maltese farmers and suppliers to ensure only the best quality.
Next up, let’s take a deeper trip into the Balkans with the main courses.
When it comes to Balkan cuisine, its vast diversity can be attributed to the variety of its terrain. The region is known for its richness in nature: dense forests, great rivers and abundant seas.
All of these have a big impact on the type of flavours and textures you will experience.
In particular, one dish worth noting is their Octopus Under The Bell, which captures a traditional Balkan way of cooking by using a large metal or ceramic lid (called a sač or peka).
It is used for cooking everything from meat to fish and vegetables – allowing them to stay deliciously juicy. As such, the octopus, served with baby potatoes, remains a decadently tender feast.
If meat is more your style, their Kleftiko Lamb, a Greek-inspired dish which literally translates to “stolen lamb”, is one of Greece’s undisputed classics.
This leg of lamb, like the octopus, is cooked low and slow and infused with spices. It offers a fall-off-the-bone bite, served with gravy and sauces, of course.
And let’s not forget about dessert and cocktails.
Make sure to leave plenty of room for Paprika’s varied desserts, like their Mushroom Forest.
The dish is stunningly beautiful, consisting of a chocolate-and-orange mousse served with cacao powder, meringue, and mixed nuts. It is carefully constructed to mimic an ethereal forest setting, with two fairytale-esque mushrooms made out of sweet confectionaries.
This really is a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach, while offering a taste of the magic and rich folklore found in the Balkans.
Besides a handpicked selection of wines and beers, their in-house mixologists are shaking up some great concoctions. Their bestselling cocktail is named after the famous Serbian-American pioneer Nicholas Tesla, whose scientific work left a huge impact on history.
In honour of his legacy, Tesla’s Juice was born, made from their homemade chamomile-infused gin.
Opening amid the whirlwind of the pandemic, Paprika aimed to stand as a testament to Balkan resilience and determination, inspired by a Balkan proverb which states that surviving through harsh times is the way to succeed and last forever.
Visiting Paprika promises to be a cultural experience tailor-made for foodies, allowing you to enjoy a delicious fusion meal while also teaching you more about the distinct flavours of the region. Their menu is changed every three months, ensuring that there is always something new and exciting to try.
It might even inspire a trip to the Balkans in the near future – but until you get on that plane, head down to Gżira and take this culinary trip first.
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