Gastronomy: Explore Moldovan Food

When the world’s great chefs say local, healthy and tasty are the food trends they’re embracing these days, it feels as if they are talking about Moldovan food and why our cuisine is a highlight of a visit to Moldova. Yes, Moldova has long been ahead of this curve by having always embraced locally produced and fresh, where farm to table is the norm in the countryside. This is not only thanks to our rich black soil that produces great vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds, mostly organic and without any pesticides, but also because it’s part of our long agricultural heritage focused on natural and pure ingredients. 

Moldovan food and our traditional dishes are very much connected to Moldovan culture and hospitality. We embrace the culinary traditions that our grandparents and great-grandparents passed on to us to create simple, but scrumptious, meals filled with traditional Moldovan dishes like placinte, sarmale, zeama or mamaliga. Combine these hearty dishes with Moldovan vegetables and fruit that you know are special and fresh when you taste them and the flavor explodes in your mouth. And, of course, Moldovan food is perfectly paired with Moldovan wine.

If you travel to Moldova in the summer we promise you the freshest cherries you’ll ever taste, as well as strawberries, blackberries and blueberries that will melt in your mouth. You can get these great fruits, as well as sour cherries, grapes, watermelons, muskmelons, peaches, plums, almonds and walnuts, in local markets and from mom-and-pop street vendors between May and October. Many locals and travelers munch on this fresh fruit as the perfect summer snack.

And in the winter, you’ll still be able to taste some of this summer freshness thanks to the Moldovan tradition of canning vegetables and fruit, like our famous watermelon pickles. A visit to a Moldovan food cellar is a sight to behold with shelves filled to the ceiling with colorful jars full of canned locally grown food. If you spend any time in Moldova you will often receive gifts from local friends’ gardens, orchards or food cellars.

For Moldovans, there is nothing better in springtime than a piece of homemade bread, with a slice of sheep’s cheese and a scallion’s tail. In the summer, we love a salad of ox-heart tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, dill pickles and homemade cream. In the fall, a pot full of vegetables, with garlic and a slice of cow’s cheese is the perfect meal. And in winter, we adore placinte (a small stuffed pie) with cheese, potato dumplings and pickled vegetables from the cellar.

Moldovans often express themselves and their hospitality through their food. One of the best ways to experience Moldovan cuisine and culture is by spending time in the Moldovan countryside and enjoying a home-cooked Moldovan traditional dishes with local wine at a family guesthouse or country B&B. For the ultimate Moldovan food experience you can take a culinary tour of Moldova (check out our list of recommended local tour companies) or organize a food tour with a qualified Moldovan tour guide.

This Moldovan food guide will introduce you to Moldovan cuisine and our favorite traditional dishes so that you know what to look for and order when you visit Moldova. As many travelers visit Chisinau, we also share details on traditional restaurants in Chisinau serving Moldovan food, as well as the best restaurants in Chisinau serving international cuisines and the best cafes for both quality coffee and pastries. And finally, details on festivals and events around the country related to Moldovan food and gastronomy.

Flagship moldovan Dishes


Sarmale are sauerkraut or vine leaves filled with rice, vegetables and meat.

Unlike those served in Turkey and Greece, our sarmale are served hot, with sour cream and pickles.

Usually, sarmale is cooked in a clay pot.

You will find it at every Moldovan feast. No Moldovan wedding is complete without sarmale. Depending on the region, sarmale have different shapes, fillings and cooking techniques. Sarmale with kernels of corn is especially tasty.

See recipe

Plăcintă (Stuffed Pies)

Moldovans take immense pride in their plăcintă or stuffed pies, some of which contain stick-to-your-ribs fillings like meat and potatoes and some of which are sweet.
Whichever you choose, we guarantee that our pies will be so tasty that you’ll lick your fingers when you’re finished.
Like sarmale, pies are a mainstay of festive occasions. There are dozens of kinds, with local traditions often dictating which will be served. Salty pies include those filled with cow’s cheese, cabbage, potatoes, and greens. Sweet ones contain such fruits or vegetables as apples, sour cherries, plums or pumpkin — or a soft, fudge-like candy called halva.
Every Moldovan makes pies differently. Some use butter, others oil, pork fat or yeast. The crusts can be puff-type pastry or leavened. And they can be round, half-moon-shaped, spiral — or turnovers.

See recipe


Zeama, or soup, means a lot of things to Moldovans — sustenance, healing, tradition and celebration, all in the same dish. We serve it before we serve anything else at a meal. Its basic ingredients are typically chicken, homemade noodles, and a plant known as lovage. Almost all restaurants and pubs offer zeama. One tradition is to serve it hot, with cream and chili peppers, at noon the day after a wedding.
See recipe


Italians have ravioli and the Poles pierogi. Moldovans’ traditional pasta is called coltunasi, or vareniks. It’s big — each piece about a third the size of a person’s palm. We fill the shells with cheese, cabbage, potatoes, roasted onions, or sour cherries.

It wouldn’t be complete without cream and a glass of wine.

See recipe


Mamaliga is a corn dish with the consistency of boiled rice that you will find at day-to-day Moldovan meals and celebrations alike.

The simple, peasant-style concoction is cooked until it is so thick that you can cut it with a fork. It is usually served with mujdei — or garlic sauce, sheep’s cheese, pickles, a meat stew, fried fish, scrambled eggs, or a mushroom stew known as ciulama.
See recipe

Watermelon pickles

One of the delights of coming to Moldova in winter is finding a wide array of pickled products in open-air markets and on grocery shelves — from the mundane to the exotic. In addition to the traditional sauerkraut, cucumbers and tomatoes, Moldovans love pickled apples and watermelon.
Without them, no winter table would be complete.

See recipe

Traditional desserts

If you have a sweet tooth, you will love traditional Moldovan desserts. One of the yummiest is Cusma lui Guguta cake, which translates into English as sour cherry crepe cake.

Another is Mușuroi, o­r mole burrow cake. Other treats include plums stuffed with walnuts and whipped cream, baked apples filled with jam and nuts, apple, cherry and pumpkin pies, cheese and raisin pancakes, and croissants with jam.
Two desserts we adopted after Soviet times are Napoleon cake and Smetannik — or sour cream —  cake. A note that will be comforting to those who want something sweet while still trying to be health-conscious: Moldovans use natural — not refined — products in their desserts.

See recipe


Locally produced Moldovan drinks — both alcoholic and non-alcoholic — contain natural ingredients, in keeping with longstanding tradition. One you can cool off with in summer is socata, made of elderflowers. Another is the fermented fruit drink kvas.
In addition to wine, Moldovan families make tuica — plum or apricot brandy — and visinata, or sherry.

See recipe

Traditional Restaurants

Here are some places where you can fully enjoy a wide variety of traditional Moldovan food.

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The restaurant invites you to taste royal food and drinks in a historical ambiance. The menu includes specialties inspired by several cultures: Romanian, Turkish, Russian, along with other culinary art works taken from the cuisine of the countries that had contacts with the Romanians. “Vatra Neamului” restaurant invites you to sit at an old table, full of memories, to eat using local royal cutlery, characteristic of the old age, and to delight your senses with the exceptional traditional cuisine!

If you languish for tasty pies, then go to “La Plăcinte “, where you can find the largest variety of pies in the city. But their menu is not limited to delicious pastries, it includes the whole range of traditional food. We recommend that you do not miss the famous dessert of the restaurant – sour cherry pancakes, which are, in fact, the taste of the Moldovans’ childhood. Are you wondering what our childhood tastes like?

„La Șezătoare” restaurant invites you to spend time in the company of authentic food and music. Its menu offers you a large range of traditional food, starting with sarmale (dolmas) and ending with homemade noodles. By the way, have you heard about șezătoarea (sitting), another element inherited by our people from the ancestors? This secular tradition implies spending time with peers, talking about what’s new and doing not too hard work, such as knitting, crocheting or even embroidery.

Due to „La Taifas” restaurant, you will keep long-lasting memories of the Moldovan culinary traditions. At the entrance, father Nicolai awaits you with a glass of wine and, before leaving, you will necessarily have one for the road, what the Moldovans call the “stirrup cup” – meaning that you will have a glass of wine on the house, so that you can take some of the warmness of this place with you. At “La Taifas”, you can spend a beautiful evening in its big room and have a good Moldovan wine, while watching how the bread is being baked in the wood oven.

„Popasul Dacilor” restaurant was born out of the hosts’s love for history and nation. Built from river stone, with a facade made of stone from Ţâpova, the restaurant always succeeded to combine what is beautiful, pleasant and healthy. “Popasul Dacilor” seems to be detached from the daily reality. The authentic atmosphere of the place makes you want to feast on royal dishes. From the house specialty, “Popasul Dacilor” platter, to the duck stuffed with dolmas, from rib soup to the Moldavian tochitura (a kind of stew), from peasant toba (stuffed pork hog maw) to homemade pie – all of them can be tasted here, being cooked with a special care and love.

Do you enjoy being home to mom? The Moldovans are spiritually connected to the house in which they grew up, so they worship the place where mother is. If you want to experience what it’s like to be received at a Moldovan mother’s house, then go to the restaurant “Acasă la mama” (“Home to Mom”). Here you have the chance to eat the tastiest homemade chicken soup served with flatbread and chili pepper. And, no doubts, if you taste the mămăliga (polenta) with fish and garlic sauce, you will not remain indifferent to our cuisine culture.

One of the few restaurants in Chisinau offering its guests the opportunity to live the Gagauzian cuisine experience. The restaurant’s recipes are deeply rooted in the tradition of this community, which is so interesting from a cultural perspective. Sheep meat, homemade wine and sheep cheese are the three pillars of the Gagauzian culinary tradition. That is why, when you visit this place, you must try two of the house specialties: kavurma and gozleme associated with wine. You will not regret it!

A real atmosphere of ancient Moldova awaits you at the restaurant “La Crîșmă”. Traditional wooden furniture, carpets with double fabric and Moldavian ceramics make the atmosphere close to the place special. Skilled chefs offer a variety of traditional dishes: juice and soup, grilled meat delicacies, and of course, assorted pies and polenta, all prepared according to the old Moldovan technology. The restaurant has a real wood oven, thanks to which you can feel the aroma of freshly baked bread.

The Restaurant-Museum “Roata Vremii” is an oasis of Moldovan history and culture. The multitude of traditional elements present here offers a feeling of time travel, in the times when people ate healthy, a lot and well. Each room of the restaurant reflects important milestones or moments in the history of Moldova. The hosts also provide a culinary exhibition with traditional Moldovan dishes and lots of wines from the Moldovan collection.

Restaurants International cuisine

Here are some restaurants with a wide variety of dishes specific to different countries of the world.

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Pleasant atmosphere, stylish setting, exclusive background music, selected drinks and absolutely delicious food: all this is about Eli Pili – a suitable location for a romantic dinner or a warm meeting with friends. The menu offers a variety of traditional and European dishes in generous portions, served with great originality. Remember to pair your food with the right drink: beer, wine or spirits. The restaurant is open 24/7 and is suitable for any occasion. Check it out!

Loft invites you to travel together through the refined world of European cuisine, where you will definitely want to return. Comfortable premises in the center of Chisinau, select menu and people who know their trade have combined in this special place, and for your comfort, the restaurant has organized several areas: lounge, chill out, large non-smoking room and VIP room, where you you can enjoy absolute privacy.

Coziness, harmony, refinement and quiet music are the typical attributes of the Buffalo Steak House. Juicy and appetizing steaks are served along with homemade bread, baked in the oven, and paired with high-quality wines. Apart from the quite varied menu, Buffalo Steak House also offers the Steak Shop option – a rich assortment of premium quality meat dishes ready to be fried. In other words – if you value your time and love good food – Buffalo Steak House is a must visit. We believe you will not regret it!

At London’s Steak House, the most juicy and tasty steaks of pork, beef, chicken and even salmon are prepared. The interior of the restaurant will give you the impression of an English pub, perfect for going out with friends or a dinner with family. Do not hesitate to order one of the house specialties associated with a red wine or beer. And if you run out of time – call the place in advance and come to the table!

The restaurant’s founders intended to create a special environment in ultramodern style. This is a very cozy place, winning its guests by the diversity of the rest zones, and the kitchen staff is ready to take you to an unforgettable culinary adventure.

Madam Wong is a contemporary Chinese cuisine restaurant, coming to us from Hongkong. The restaurant combines several gastronomic traditions of the South-East Asian region and invites you to enjoy its refined dishes, live music and luxurious atmosphere. When you visit Madam Wong, remember to try the Miso soup with seafood and the Dorado fish fillet with Teriyaki sauce. And for dessert, we recommend you the notable Asian Cherry, a dessert with an Oriental accent, created by pastry chef Tatiana Drobot.

Despite its name, QBAR is a full-fledged restaurant, with a focus on quality wines and delicious food. The wine list contains Chilean, Latino-American, French, Italian and even North-American wines. The restaurant menu is modest, consisting mainly of aperitives. Nevertheless, guests will find here an absolutely delicious beef tartare and a creamy cheese soup, while vegetarians will enjoy a creamy broccoli soup and vegan burgers. Don’t forget to order cheesecake for dessert. A good wine and food matching will offer you an outstanding gastronomic experience!

The history of the Pegas Restaurant started about two decades ago. Initially, there were three tables for clients and it was known as the place making the best sausages in town. The small grill-bar shortly evolved into a luxury venue, where guests can spend their evening in a friendly and pleasant environment. The restaurant’s kitchen serves excellent meat dishes, as well as European fusion food. This is, without doubt, a place open and available for guests: they are no longer surprised by the large portions the restaurant serves, as they already know this is the perfect place to enjoy attention, comfort and delicious food. Besides, any dish from the menu can be prepared in your favorable way. The Pegas Restaurant is open 24/7. It is not a big deal in terms of costs. But it is worth visiting. 

Georgians are known all over the world for being the “parents” of wine, as well as for their varied, and especially spicy, gastronomic culture. The Georgian cuisine at Saperavi’s will simply charm you; therefore, we highly recommend to stop by while in Chișinău. We suggest you to try Salmon in walnut sauce Bazhe, Kuchmanchi and, of course, Khinkali with pork or beef. And for dessert, don’t forget the apricot, peach or cheese cake. All these delicious treats will be enjoyed in a truly soulful environment. Immerse yourself in the amazing experience of being a guest of the Georgians!

Located in downtown Chisinau, the venue is bragging about the food it offers to real men: large portions, natural products and plenty of meat! Its celebrities are the steaks prepared with great care, passed through six levels of frying and presented to consumers in the most irresistible associations. You must be wondering who is cooking the most masculine food in the city, at Jack’s Bar&Grill? A young lady, of course. Come and enjoy the gastronomic delights created by Olga Curarari. 

Black Rabbit gastro-burrow is a cafe, a restaurant or a bar, depending on the time of day when you visit it. Every weekday, the cafe opens at 7.30 am, offering classic and original breakfasts, then it continues working as a restaurant with delicious lunch offers, and at the end of the day, Black Rabbit runs into a place for a quiet and cozy dinner, as well as for a pre-party at the bar.

Discover the European gastronomic world, or the sushi world at Mojito Bar. The hosts have prepared for their guests an absolutely challenging menu, perfectly complemented by the wine list. Also, the hosts promise you that your experience as their guest will motivate you to come over again.

What about spending a quiet evening, in a purely French atmosphere? The PaniPit Restaurant is the perfect location for this. Coffee flavor beautifully intertwines with the “à la Provence” design, creating a perfect environment for warm and sincere talks. And our rich and diverse experience enables us to assure you that our house specialties will teleport you from the heart of Chisinau right to the heart of Paris. And what could be more fantastic than the experience of being simultaneously present in two historical capitals?

Rozmarin, a restaurant that provides authentic urban cuisine, inspired by Mediterranean, Asian and Mexican flavors. Rozmarin is one of the few local restaurants in Chisinau that has a rich vegan menu, which you must try! The chef, Emil Bojescu makes a phenomenal gazpacho, and delicious spinach ravioli. If you want something lighter, try the falafel with vegetables. Save room for dessert, ask for something homemade by Marina Luca, the Bessarabian pastry chef.

If you love going out with friends in the city, you prefer noisy companies and good drink, then “York Pub” is the perfect place for you. The pleasant and positive interior creates a favorable atmosphere for communication. Moreover, every weekend, inside the pub, bands of artists with live songs perform.

Pastry and Coffee

Serve an aromatic coffee with appetizing delicacies created by the artisans of taste in the cafes of Chisinau

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Crème de la Crème is an ideal place for a cozy brunch, family lunch or a pleasant dinner. The restaurant owners furnished the ground floor area in an authentic Parisian style, and the main part of the restaurant gives the guests a sense of traveling to Provence. In addition to French croissants and Viennese coffee, Crème de la Crème proposes to the guests an eclectic European menu at an affordable price.

The French confectionery Delice d’Ange was opened in September 2003 and it has conquered the hearts of all citizens since the very first days of its existence. Here you can find a wide selection of the most sophisticated delicacies: appetizing croissants and rolls, unique almond macaroons, exclusive ice cream, cakes and pies with a wide range of fillings and creams and, most importantly, very much chocolate!

The motto of this coffee shop was inspired by the epoch when rock-and-roll and the subculture of the hippies appeared, an epoch renowned for its philosophy and the desire of people to return to natural purity through love, pacifism and free thinking. To develop and popularize a culture of true, high-quality, freshly roasted coffee, they decided to work with 100% Arabica from the best regions and plantations of the world. A place with a pleasant energy was chosen in the centre of the old city and the doors of the first Tucano coffee shop opened early in November 2011. The Tucano Coffee team is still creating a new coffee shop model – a coffee house as a creative space.

There are many reasons to visit this coffee shop, but the most important is, of course, coffee. Given its large range, it will be difficult for you not to find your favourite recipe here. A friendly barista will help you choose the best coffee for you, and you’ll be able to enjoy it while admiring the unique interior decoration. Coffee lovers will surely be fascinated by the small local coffee museum with a collection of mills of different years.

If you are looking for a place where you could enjoy good coffee and delicious craft donuts, then go to DC Donuts & Coffee. Here you will get an invigorating and tasty dose of joy that will allow you start your day as pleasantly as possible!

Caramel confectionary is a fairy tale transposed into real life. The French charm which distinguishes this confectionary from other can be felt in everything: in the sophisticated range of shades, in the warm colours, in the dried flowers in small vases, in the cute curtains and painted plates. In this small charming place decorated in a Provence style, each guest will feel as comfortable as at home.

Panna Cotta cafe is located in the centre of Chisinau, near the Cathedral. As soon as you cross its threshold, you will forget about all daily worries. They use only natural, absolutely eco-friendly raw products here. The bright space with light creamy walls and with a modern design, the comfortable sofas and the original dishes will immerse you into a world full of tastes and aromas, and the atmosphere will delight you with its elegance and sophistication.