It doesn’t look like much, does it? And its name, The Maxokk Bakery, apart from being unpronounceable, isn’t really an accurate description of what it offers. Buried in the back streets of Nadur, a little town on the island of Gozo, this bakery makes the best pizza I have ever had the joy to taste. Apart from the fact that the end-product is similar in shape to a pizza, the likeness to what’s served up the world over is minimal.
About four people can stand, cheek to jowl, inside the blue netting. The politicians in this world could learn a thing or two from these bakers! Everying is out in the open. Nothing hidden away. An original Maltese oven takes up most of the back wall and the prep work is done on a simple wooden bench centred on a mosaic tiled floor. If Mr EU, with all his regulations, ever caught wind of this place, it would be the death knell. And what a shame that would be.
We rang in our order to be collected at 1.45. We were warned to be on time. We were late. And no doubt we won’t be the last. The pizzas were still waiting to go into the oven as many people never make it through the maze of narrow side streets and they’re well used to this by now. I got the distinct impression that this place wouldn’t stand being ‘discovered’.
Different groups of people loitered outside; some sat on wooden benches up and down the street munching away and the smell from their food was orgasmic. When our turn came, we handed over €20.25 for four drinks and three pizzas, each one unceremoniously wrapped in greaseproof paper, differentiated with black marker, and lobbed into a cardboard veg box. The great unveiling was scheduled for San Blas Bay, about 10 minutes up the road. We drove quickly so that they’d still be hot but we needn’t have worried. Despite getting lost, the Maxokk magic was working. One tuna and anchovy. One closed ricotta. One bacon, potato, egg, onion and tomato washed down with local mineral water (and that in itself, is a true find!)
I play a game at dinner sometimes and ask people to name their three most memorable meals. Perhaps it wasn’t the food, but the company; or perhaps not the company, but the locale. Or maybe a combination of three or even more factors that contributed to the memory. I know one of my three stalwarts has been knocked off its perch. Sitting on a stone wall overlooking the red sand beach and blue water of San Blas Bay, on a balmy winter’s afternoon, surrounded by orange trees and bamboo-walled fields, in the company of the Aquilana family…this was as close to heaven as I’ve gotten to in a while.