Monday, January 06, 2014
Coney Island Bar - Part of Victoria's (in Gozo) Heritage
Coney Island Bar facade
Door step to Coney Island Bar
The bar itself with Georgia in the background
The lovely British coat of arms having pride of place
The all important table far left
Coffee and tea in a ''tazza'' with ''pastizzi''
John F. Kennedy forever remembered
Most visitors to Victoria in Gozo will walk past this aluminium clad coffee bar entrance without even knowing it is there, or have the slightest welcoming feeling of wanting to enter and savour a bit of refreshment. Unfortunately, if one did decide to walk in and have a coffee/tea/pastizzi, unless you were Maltese speaking the priceless attraction of it all would be lost as it is the very people who own the bar and those people who come and go that make this a regular stop for us.
Coney Island Bar is presumably named after the original owner spent a time in his life working in New York. Many Gozitans have emigrated to America and funnily enough most seem to have settled in New York. That American link is confirmed with the typical 60's tapestry picture of Kennedy set on a backdrop of the White House holding pride of place on the bare formica clad wall.
Although there is such a strong American link to this bar there seems to be just as strong a link to British colonialism. The massive British coat of arms holds pride of place above the lovely display of alcoholic beverages- some looking like they date back to the 60's themselves and are probably worth more to a collector than as a tot in a glass!
This bar opens early in the morning and is usually closed by 11am for the day - though it may stay open till noon on very busy days or until the ''pastizzi'' runs out. ''Pastizzi'' are one of those typical Maltese snacks -deliciously sinful light and crispy puff pastry filled with either rikotta cheese or peas. At 25 euro cents each they make the best and most delicious value for money snack available. Very basic tea and coffee are served in a ''tazza'' (a glass) - the best way to have a tea besides a bone china cup! Don't expect any 'silver service' - you will be handed your coffee or tea still with the t-bag inside, plastic spoon and a carton of milk plonked on to the table and handed around patrons once you have helped yourself.
The wooden benches and tables are the originals though the tables have now got formica tops. Originally they would either have been plain wooden tops or, more likely than not, had lovely Carrera marble tops (wonder what happened to them?)
Over the years we have seen family members gradually depart to eternal life in a better place. The family table is the last one on the left and that is where the most delightful, funny and interesting conversations take place. Usually putting the world to right, debating local hot topics or just pulling one anothers legs. Various local characters and clerics walk in, help themselves to tea or coffee and toss a few coins on the counter. Everyone joins in the conversation and gives their tuppence worth to make the conversation more interesting and usually hilariously funny. I have to point out here that the comical side of these conversations are the sometimes bizarre way they reason things out, certain coarse ways of talking and the relating of funny stories. That together with the actual characters themselves make this a delightful start to our day.
Walk in at 8am and you will be greeted to the mantra of prayers recited each day at the stroke of 8 o'clock - similar to the mid day Angelus. Anyone in there or walking in automatically joins in and it is only after the recitation is over will your tea or coffee be served. Having said that if you are a ''tourist'' Georgia will happily get up and serve you whilst still reciting the prayers.............and as a ''tourist'' you will most likely be honoured by being served your tea and coffee in a cup!