Perhaps the most celebrated aspect of Maltese tourism is the sea, therefore its gastronomic aspect most celebrated, should be the bounty of the sea. With such a plentiful variety of fish in our waters, and so many talented Chefs bustling through our island, Chef Andrea Scaglione from Onda Blu shining bright in the crudo and seafood pasta category.
The restaurant is located at the far end of Pieta, on the marina with the choice to sit outdoors, with cruising ducks to entertain your meal, or in the pretty large indoor seating area. Managed by Keith Testa, the restaurant is tranquil on quieter nights and buzzing on the busier services with large groups of family and friends or romantic tables for two tended to by the charismatic and helpful servers of the meal.
Warm bread and pure olive oil made its way to our table for a good lining to the delicious cocktails made fresh at Onda Blu. The Negroni was bitter and refreshing, slightly sweet and a nice apertitivo before a glorious Misto Crudi Della Casa.
Featuring carpacci, tartare and a selection of some delicious crustaceans, the colourful display of reds, oranges and pinks was offset with the beautiful touches of kiwis and clementines for pops of sweetness and tartness. Thin shavings of celery to cut the fattiness of the oily fish and the most satisfying pops of salinity with delicious capers that work wonderfully with the sott’olio features of the platter.
The carpacci here were thin slivers of fresh salmon; oily mouthfeel that was just right and tuna slices that were so thin, the tender threads melt in your mouth with shots of saltiness, smoothly toyed with in the mouth. Langoustines, shrimps and local red prawns all featured on this platter; always the highlight in a shellfish selection, bar oysters perhaps, but perhaps here, the red prawns stole the show.
The surprise element on this crudo – even though becoming more and more popular in crudo specialising restaurants – the anchovies marinated in olive oil. Perhaps not an in-house preparation, but delicious nonetheless.
The presentation is propped up with edible flowers, shoots and drizzles of oil for better mouthfeel. A touch of acid or zest, maybe grapefruit, and micro herbs could take this to a new experience, but perhaps this route of purity and simplicity is where Chef Andrea wanted to transport us. You could taste every seafood item for what it was, and that is a beautiful thing.
To add some depth to the opening course, Fritto Misto came our way – served with a side dip to cut through the fattiness of the fry. The batter was crisp and seasoned well, the variety of seafood was pleasant, with white fish, shrimps, calamari and white bait as the crispy victims. Needless to say the plate was cleaned within minutes.
Mains took us straight to fresh pasta central, and it was al dente and overflowing with rich flavour and personality. The temperament of fresh pasta is sometimes determined to convince you that eating anything other than fresh spaghetti would be a shame, never turning your back to a fresh pasta dish brought to life with fresh shellfish, seafood and the wonderful touch of a trained Sicilian Chef.
On the menu, Fettucine Ricci, Linguine Nero di Sepia and Spaghetti Pescatore – three stand up dishes that honour the nature of Maltese produce, the talent of local Chefs and the cosmopolitan love for good pasta.
The sweet ionic sauce, black as the dead of night catches your eye as the dish sits before you; two wonderfully red local prawns, glisten against the black backdrop that is Onda Blu’s Nero di Sepia. The secret to a perfect plate of pasta is to allow the sauce to swim around your pasta – the ratio far more in favour of sauce than starch – these pastas were all saucy and seasoned.
The Pescatore dish was rich, bold and full of many pleasant surprises in the form of clams, mussels and other fresh shellfish of the day. The general downside of a mixed shellfish based pasta is the overpowering stock that usually takes the salt levels over the scale slightly. Here there were no worries about that. The salt-sweet balance was accurate.
The Ricci was creamy, luscious and packed with umami hits in every mouthful. Not muted in flavours of the pure salt water and sweetness; resonating the untouched flavour of sea urchins. Overall the pasta course was highly enjoyable, a good fix to kill those pasta cravings and seafood cravings alike.
The meal ended on panna cotta. Milky, rich, dense, providing the perfect amount of jiggle and just enough caramel sweetness. A light yet satisfying dessert to close off a night of genuine cuisine.
Kristina Cassar Dowling
HORECA Reviews are based on the experience of the diners on their particular visit. The nature of these reviews is based on the publication’s expertise in the industry, but also highlights the reviewer’s opinions and preferences. The aim of HORECA Reviews is to showcase culinary talent, to give the hospitality industry insight on their patron’s experience and areas for improvement as well as to celebrate the strive for excellence within the sector.