Hot Spot: Giuseppe's Wine Bar, Malta

In a buffet-heavy country where food is hardly the strong point, this gem, run by local celebrity chef Michael Diacono (Malta's answer to Jamie Oliver), is by far the island's best eatery.

Ambience: With only 14 tables spread over two floors of an old villa on Mellieha's main street, diners can't help but feel cozy. The décor is authentic Maltese, with stone floors and hand-brushed walls, enhanced by romantic lighting and soft music. The young Maltese waiters are dishy and knowledgeable and attentive without being overbearing.

Food: Forget the menu; the best dishes are the seasonal specials. Summer favorites include the Maltese lampuki fish, stuffed with pine nuts and Parmesan, and the red snapper fillet, doused in a garlic-and-parsley sauce. The fresh bread is accompanied by herbed butter made daily with whatever herbs are lying around the kitchen.

Wine List: The full range of choices includes €280 bottles of Italian Brunello di Montalcino and €10 Maltese whites. The chef will gladly offer suggestions based on your meal choice.

Dessert: The best way to end the meal is with a silver bowl of prickly-pear sorbet, made from the fruit of the wild cactus that covers the island.