Caffe Cordina is one of the main social landmarks in the city. With an outdoor seating area right on Republic Square, patrons can enjoy a proper Italian coffee and a snack under the watchful eye of Queen Victoria’s monument.
The cafe is considered an institution in the city – it has been in operation since 1944, and to date is run by the original Cordina family, with management passing through three generations since Cesare Cordina first acquired the premises from the neighbouring Casino Maltese.
Do make sure not to rush your Caffe Cordina experience and to allow yourself at least an hour or two to soak up the pjazza vibe. This is one of the best people-watching spots, and you’re likely to spot anyone from Malta’s glitterati to the top legal minds on the island, taking a break from their court session just up the road.
Incidentally, the interiors of the cafe are equally remarkable, with seating space located within an opulent hall sporting vaulted ceilings and affreschi.
Caffe Cordina – pastizzi and pastries
What makes Caffe Cordina so iconic? So many things… starting with the fact that it was the first cafe to operate an Italian espresso machine in Malta, back in the 1950s. The Cordina family still prides itself on serving the perfect coffee shot, ensuring that their staff is trained in the art of the barista.
The traditional pastizzi (cheesecakes and pea-cakes) are legendary, with Caffe Cordina favouring the so-called ‘tax-xema’ variety, easily recognisable from their round shape. Unlike the normal pastizzi, these use puff pastry instead of philo pastry. A less oily option is the qassata – same filling varieties, but with lighter pastry.
The cake and pastry recipes have also survived generations. The Diplomatica, a decadent concoction featuring sponge cake, marzipan and ricotta, is one of the best-sellers at the cafe. Our advice is to try it, and maybe add a qagħqa tal-għasel (a traditional honey ring) to the equation, too.