Tartarun has easily become synonymous with authentically exceptional Maltese cuisine, particularly its impeccable seafood offerings.
In an exclusive interview with the Head Chef and Owner James Schiavone, we delve into the inspiration behind Tartarun's menu and the commitment to preserving traditional Maltese flavours.
Chef Schaivone starts things off by explaining that, "Tartarun has earned a reputation as a fish restaurant that is consistent in its use of locally caught fish from Maltese waters. Our take on the fish produce is integral to the authenticity of Maltese cuisine."
While rooted in tradition, Tartarun embraces innovation, experimenting with techniques like ageing fish and fermenting guts to enhance local produce in unique and exciting ways.
Tartarun's Head Chef and Owner, James Schiavone
Malta is renowned for its rich seafood offerings, and Tartarun takes pride in sourcing the freshest ingredients for its seafood-focused dishes. Joseph, the Chef's father, plays a pivotal role in establishing a special relationship with local fishermen.
Chef Schiavone comments, "He spends time talking with them, has nicknames for them, and sympathises when they encounter problems. While price is a factor, we prioritise quality and negotiate when necessary."
This personal touch ensures the freshest catch finds its way to their kitchen - and quite frankly it’s what most diners would expect from a meal here; it’s become synonymous with the Tartarun name.
“Our restaurant is committed to helping sustain the local fishing industry and the Marsaxlokk community as a whole and this allows us to develop dishes that are seasonal, ethically sourced and, at the end of the day, packed with the authentic essence of our waters.
Some of the most magnificent menu items that I am personally most proud of were sourced a few metres away from the restaurant, right off the fishermen’s boats, to our kitchen.”
The idea of ‘fresh’ will always linger in a Tartarun-diner’s mind; but creativity and storytelling are two other factors that come to mind. The Fish Charcuterie, for example
“The inspiration for our Fish Charcuterie came from Josh Niland, a marine expert, fish butcher, sustainability advocate and more. It is enlightening to read how he handles fish, as well as his ideas for creating flavours through curing and dry-ageing.
In 2020 we bought a dry ageing fridge. It was a good time to experiment, seeing as we were at the peak of COVID’s restrictions, but when we eventually opened again, we had something new to share with our guests.
I think this put us back on the map, encouraging me to keep experimenting and developing flavour; our latest addition the Aged Otoro; dry aged for 3 months with fennel and lompong pepper.”
Head Chef and Owner James Schaivone believes that their family dynamic is a positive edge that resonates with guests. "We are a family-run, fish-focused restaurant in Marsaxlokk. My brother and mother handle the floor, and my father is in constant contact with fish suppliers.
Our cuisine has a sense of place, rooted in Marsaxlokk - our home and the heart of our inspiration.