Kenyans love their road-trips or short flights to various towns along our exotic coastal strip over the holidays, and the place will certainly be teeming with local and international tourists this Easter. Pristine white sand beaches, warm humid air with the sharp smell of salt lingering idly on the subconscious, an excuse to finally brush up on your Swahili, and, of course, the food. Oh, the food! One town worth checking out is Malindi, that little gem that has since been dubbed ‘Kenya’s little Italy’, a place where even the beach boys know their ‘buongiorno!’ from their ‘buonasera!’ A lot of the best restaurants are owned by Italians and hence you should expect to be treated to orgasmic pasta, pizza and gelato whose authenticity might fool you into thinking you’re in their country of origin. Menus are also filled with a smorgasbord of seafood so fresh you’ll think that lobster jumped right out of the ocean into the frying pan! And everything is just begging to be devoured. Here are our top picks of places definitely worth checking out when you head to Malindi this Easter:
Bonus: Bahati Gelateria Italiana
Oh this place is good, so good! Malindi is very hot, and sooner or later, you’re going to crave some ice cream. Opening an ice cream parlour is also definitely good business in that climate, but here’s the thing; few people get it right! After being disappointed a few times and being on the verge of just giving up and walking into a supermarket to buy packaged ice cream, we finally decided to drive out to Watamu and check out Bahati gelateria Italiana. Yes, I am that serious about my ice cream. This place came highly recommended and it is actually not unusual for people to drive up to Watamu from surrounding towns in search of it. Boy am I glad I went! Their ice cream alone deserves a love song from Beyonce! And I bet their mango flavour would win a grammy. It’s open from 6:00am to 6:00pm, is right off a quiet street and is always packed, a clear indicator if its popularity. Anna and Andrea, the two Italian owners make their own ice cream, sorbets and pastries, and sometimes you’ll even find them serving up yummy scoops behind the counter.
In case the name seems a tad familiar, there is a book of the same name by American author Ernest Hemingway, but this instance is a reference to one of the oldest restaurants in Malindi. Much larger restaurants have since come up beside it and it may be easy to give in to hunger pangs and waltz into one of the other more conspicuous places. If you do find this little gem, however, you’re in for a treat The restaurant itself is the stuff instagram dreams are made of with moorish architecure akin to that prevalent in North Africa. The ambience is very intimate and romantic, perfect for a date night, and you can actually see the Vasco dagama pillar if you look out across the windows. It specializes in seafood on the barbecue with various rich sauces made in house. The Malindi smoked sailfish is used in several of the starters and your palate will surely thank you afterwards. Go, just go!
Since baby marrow refers to zucchini, one would be forgiven for thinking that that’s the primary ingredient in their dishes. Or, on a wilder note, that the restaurant is made entirely of Zucchini like with Hansel and Gretel and their chocolate house. One can dream. The service is commendable given the very attentive and friendly staff, and that’s always a plus. If all the Italian lingo on the menu seems a tad confusing for you, the owner is always at hand to take you through it and help you select one of their specials. The wine list is very extensive so go there ready to be merry!
This is located at casino Malindi and so is you’re looking for a great entertainment spot then you can always pop into the casino or bar after your crab salad and crab pasta. Their desserts are also worth foodstagramming and the fried apple rings, chocolate soufflé and zabaione taste twice as good as they look. The restaurant itself is describes as the very epitome of Italian with a rustic and authentic feel. What’s not to love?
When heading out to lunch in Malindi, you probably fancy a dip in the ocean or a stroll through the sand with your Spaghetti alle vongole, and that’s exactly why La Rosada is the perfect spot for you. Rosada means pink in Italian, and perhaps this explains why you’ll spot that colour about. Relaxing on a comfortable beach bed nestled amidst palm trees looking out onto the white sand sharply contrasting the blues and greens of the ocean…it’s like a little paradise in itself. The beach boys, eager to impress with their mastery of Italian, will certainly not bother you unless you indulge them. The food is undeniably great and Sundays are particularly popular for the excellent and extensive buffet. Head there every Monday evening as there is always a private beach party going down and there’s nothing like letting loose on a beach with music in the background and a gentle breeze tugging away gently at your shirt.
5) I Love Pizza
I love pizza. Do you love pizza? Who am I kidding, who doesn’t love pizza? The restaurant’s name is just so darn catchy! You see that name while whizzing by atop scooter and it just calls out to you with the promise of a special slice of pizza with your name spelled out on it with bacon topping. It’s like subliminal advertising that causes you to unintentionally waltz right in. But enough about the name, this is a much more pocket friendly restaurant which also happens to be one of the oldest in Malindi. Imagine digging into seafood pizza while overlooking the old town. It is right by the road and so there’s bound to be some noise from nearby traffic, but is sure makes for a great people watching spot. They don’t just love pizza as there are also other excellent dishes on the menu. Fancy some fish and chips perhaps? They make a mean one. You can also find the other Malindi staples on their menu.
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