FoodBlog Logo

For the best experience, please rotate your device.

The reimagining of an iconic restaurant – where every detail matters!

The reimagining of an iconic restaurant – where every detail matters!

When the leadership team of The Phoenicia Malta decided it was time to rethink Phoenix, their all-day dining room, they left no stone unturned in developing the newly launched Contessa.

From the outset, a key focus was to consider the right ingredients to bring the concept to life.

Although Contessa opened in early December 2023, the thinking and planning behind it began far earlier. “We dedicated a lot of time to considering our new menu and our approach, to ensure we could deliver an unforgettable and exciting guest experience,” says Robyn Pratt, General Manager of The Phoenicia Malta.

Transforming the hotel’s popular terrace, the décor of Contessa’s new conservatory takes inspiration from the beautiful greenery and Mediterranean hues visible from within it, which have been carefully incorporated into the space’s design features and colours.

The result? A relaxing ambience, where guests dining inside the conservatory can take in the panoramic views across the hotel’s lush gardens and out towards the blue Mediterranean Sea. 

A perfectly cooked steak for sharing

A perfectly cooked steak for sharing

“We had several choices of cuisine, but based on our location and rich history, we decided upon a high-end Southern Mediterranean menu for Contessa. Our Executive Chef Daniel Debattista has an array of experience and, together with the restaurant’s Chef de Cuisine Alessandro Gravino, they created a delicious menu that guests won’t soon forget,” says Robyn.

Keeping in mind the stiff competition across Malta’s culinary scene, the team designed, tasted and rethought each dish over the course of around four months. The intricate process considered not just about how the dish is prepared, but also how it should look and the best and most innovative way to serve and present it to the guest.

Crispy & perfect Calamari Fritti!

Crispy & perfect Calamari Fritti!

“We believe in investing in our team and we supported this process with an international Chef Consultant and Coach,” Robyn shares. “I am incredibly proud of Daniel, Alessandro and the team, who always took the constructive feedback on board. The end result and the excellent feedback we have received speak for themselves.”

After two months of operation, some of Contessa’s most popular dishes include:

ü Grilled scallops, butter beans, bottarga, parsley and garlic

ü Veal tonnato, chicory & parmesan

ü Beef Cheek lasagne

ü Hand-rolled ricotta gnocchi, cherry tomato sugo & caciocavallo

Plus, the team has developed special sharing menus, where guests can enjoy together various items from the menu, for each course.

Perfect for sharing between friends & colleagues

Perfect for sharing between friends & colleagues

Speaking of sharing: the unique Contessa experience also features ‘tableside theatre’. This one-of-a-kind tableside trolley service brings both entertainment and culinary magic, as guests watch sharable favourites prepared in front of them, such as the ‘Benedetto Cavalieri’ Spaghettata, served with delicious local Gamberi Rossi – or even Contessa’s most popular dessert, the signature tiramisu.

To polish each moment of the guest journey, the culinary team also played a pivotal role in the restaurant’s rebranding and concept development process. They were involved in every detail – from the newly developed menu covers, the bespoke-designed uniforms and the table tops and cutlery, to the colour palette, the selection of plants and, of course, the development of the menu and its presentation to the guest.

One of the stars of the show, this Risotto with Red Prawn.

One of the stars of the show, this Risotto with Red Prawn.

“We received many comments in relation to how quickly we were able to launch Contessa – but in reality, this has been an ongoing project for the past 12 months! We are extremely proud of the result and the feedback we are receiving,” says Daniel.

The chefs plan to change the menu with the season, matching innovative dishes to Malta’s freshest ingredients available at that time of year. With a strong philosophy of buying local and offering guests an exceptional dining experience, they will also include produce grown in the hotel’s own kitchen garden, which sits within its extensive grounds.

Table side Tiramisu

Table side Tiramisu, Video down below.

“We are very happy to have the opportunity to grow our own vegetables and herbs right here on our doorstep, so we collaborate closely with our gardeners in planning the seasonal crops,” explains the Executive Chef.

Striving to continue to exceed guest expectations, the team has developed various events that will take place monthly throughout 2024.

One such event is the upcoming Ferron Dinner with guest chef Gabrielle Ferron, hosted at Contessa on 22 March. In what promises to be an interesting and wonderfully different evening – which is sure to be popular with curious local foodies – the team will serve a specially crafted ‘Ferron’ rice degustation menu, in which all courses are based around rice. 

“We will never stop focusing on delivering the highest level of quality in all aspects of the guest journey,” adds Robyn. “Contessa has begun in the way we want it to continue. The team are young, enthusiastic and committed to always being the best they can be. I am so proud of what we are achieving here. The future at Contessa tastes sublime.”

Find out more about Contessa at The Phoenicia Malta at and book your table today on +356 2122 5241 or [email protected].

Did you enjoy reading this article?

Share this with your friends!


FoodBlog SpaceFoodBlog Space

Hi 👋

Welcome to

Follow Us!