‘High stakes, big rewards’
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‘High stakes, big rewards’

Beppe’s
Sannat, Gozo

Food: 9/10
Service: 9/10
Ambience: 7/10
Value: 8/10
Overall: 8.5/10

I don’t visit Gozo often enough. Every time I toy with the idea of visi­ting for a day, I find myself applying the Goldilocks principle to my thought process. I don’t like heading up when it is too hot as I rather enjoy Gozo’s idyllic beach and countryside walks. Likewise, the cold blustery winds put a literal damper on the entire venture.

One must also factor in pesky hangovers, arguments about po­tential traffic, and the seemingly impossible modern day task of having an entire day to oneself free from work or familial commitments. This inability to be content and just make up my damned mind, coupled with an extremely hectic schedule, normally means I get to visit our lovely sister island once a year. If I’m lucky. In fact, the last time I set foot on Gozo was early 2017.

And so, after a week of relatively pleasant winter weather, a group of us decided to throw caution to the wind and plotted a day trip over the weekend come what may.

The gods were kind enough to reward our bravery with near perfect weather. The sun was shining in the sky, not a cloud in sight, it stopped raining, everybody was in a play and don’t you know it was a beautiful new day. Hey, hey, hey. In order to make the best of a full day, we decided to work up our appetite with a trip to Wied l-Għasri.

What a gem! I’d never actually been to the secluded bay before. The majority of us sat down on the beach watching the waves crashing against the rocks. Any onlookers would have assumed we were posing for some sort of Mumford and Sons-esque album cover, had the fourth member of our en­tourage not been busy industriously picking up every piece of plastic she could see.

All credit to her, she did a bang-up job. It is shocking to see how much junk people carelessly dump in such an outstanding location. I have to admit though somewhat guiltily, were it not for her enthusiastic encouragement, the rest of us would probably have done very little about it.

On my next trip up to Gozo, it’s going to be very difficult to persuade me to try somewhere else

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,” they say. So we had an impromptu beach clean-up. It felt pretty good. I encourage you all to give it a go sometime.

By this time hunger had crept into our bellies, which rumbled angrily as though inspired by the rough waters. So I was very excited when, half an hour later, we parked the car in Sannat and stepped into Beppe’s.

I wasn’t immediately awestruck by my surroundings. The venue has hints of a ‘Każin tal-banda’ atmosphere to it rather than an upscale steakhouse that also specialises in fresh pasta. Maybe the place shines in the evening with warmer lighting and better ambience, but in the cold light of day, it fell short of impressive.

We were seen to our table promptly and welcomed very warmly by the staff. Our waiter was young and fresh faced and carried himself like a devout professional. It is always such a pleasure to see someone who clearly loves their job and is also extremely good at it.

The menu caused a few dilemmas. It’s one of those First World problems where everything looked way too good and it was hard to make our minds up. The same can be said of the meat counter where Beppe’s displays their high-quality cuts for you to view and select. With a number of trade agreements in place well in advance, we all placed our orders and prepared ourselves for the large meal ahead.

Within minutes the meal got even larger. First off, we were treated to an amouse bouche of sorts. Mini siciliana-like pastries hit our table. They had that trademark sweet fried pastry and were stuffed with goats cheese and something verdant and herby and wonderful I couldn’t quite place but hit a spot.

As though that wasn’t enough of a treat, a basket of homemade, freshly baked bread was placed in front of us, steam still billowing from the crown. The bread came with a mustard compound butter and we were in heaven. We were also extremely impressed by the fresh in-house gluten-free bread we were given upon request by one of our diners. The rest of the meal could have gone down in flames, as those tiny rolls made their day and Beppe’s won a client forever .

There is something inexplicably joyous about fresh bread. And I mean straight-out-of-the-oven fresh. It has the ability to make me simultaneously melt in place yet also send my senses into a frenzy. I think I would be willing to murder for a piping hot ħobza tal-Malti or two. And this basket was a godsend.

We had to pace ourselves. Our meal started carb heavy and we could have wolfed down a few baskets of bread. We exhibited great restraint and focused on our wine but it wasn’t long before our starters were brought out. My homemade paccheri in a rich ragù were textbook perfect. I’m glad I had saved some of that bread because I mopped the plate clean.

There was a shared platter on the table too, with some in-house sausages, grilled cheese and pulled pork stuffed samosas. The sau­sages lacked a nice snap and pop but I think that’s mostly due to the fact that they are served conveniently sliced for easier dining. They were perfectly spiced and had a great fat content, allowing them to remain wonderfully juicy. The samosas were crunchy and flaky, which is exactly the kind of texture that pulled pork tends to lack and need. Together they made a perfect bite. And hey, you can never go wrong with grilled cheese.

The only disappointment the entire meal provided was the Cacio e Pepe starter. The casa­recce were perfectly made, and we can’t flaw the pasta at all, but there was an extremely unpleasant pool of grease at the bottom of the bowl. It coated our mouths and left us with a quite literal bad taste in our mouths.

This was quickly made up for by a set of flawless mains. The sau­sages were tasty enough that they were reordered as a main course. And then came the steaks. A rare fillet, a medium rare ribeye and a medium aged ribeye could not have been more temperature perfect had they been programmed in a sous vide water bath.

Had there not been an open kitchen right behind us where we got to witness the magic, I may have had suspicions. Full credit to the chefs, these guys know their way around beef. Exemplary.

I had a slice of cheeky foie gras on my steak because, as any regular reader may have cottoned on by now, it’s impossible for me to resist. I am aware of the arguments this may cause and the schisms in friendships this cruel practice has formed. But I think it’s delicious. And I was right. It was damn near perfect. Send your complaints to The Sunday Times of Malta.

It was a struggle to get it all down. But we weren’t leaving a scrap on our plates. It was too good to waste so we soldiered on. That isn’t to say we didn’t give in when the waiter mentioned crème brûlée for dessert. It is a scientific fact that humans have a separate stomach for dessert and we made good use of it.

Overall the bill was the standard fare a meal like this would set you back; around the €60 per person mark. Considering three hefty courses, mains consisting mostly of large steaks, fine wine, liqueurs and dessert, we couldn’t argue with the value.

Beppe’s has really set the standard very high in terms of both quality and service. On my next trip up to Gozo, it’s going to be very difficult to persuade me to try somewhere else. You would all make my decision a lot easier if I called in to find it fully booked next time round as it deserves to be.

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