Are you one of those travelers who research the food and restaurants for where you are going from the get-go? If you are anything like me, I peruse photos, menus, and vacation reviews on various sites before traveling, so I will know where to find the good stuff—and what I can skip. When I was booked on my first Costa cruise from Istanbul, Turkey, to Greece, I hardly found anything mentioning the food on this iconic cruise line. I went into my cruise blindly because there really wasn’t much online about the food on Costa Cruises vessels, and especially because my Costa Venezia was moving to a much different vacation route.
Not to worry, I researched it all for you. Never mind my calorie count; here is a Costa Cruises food and restaurant guide. It includes what to eat, where to eat it, and all your dining choices for sailing the high seas with Costa.
I was hosted by Costa Cruises to familiarize myself with their ship and features. As always, opinions and reviews are 100% mine and unbiased.
Main Dining Room
As on all cruises, meals in the main dining room are included in your cruise vacation. You will be assigned a seating time (first-early or second-late) and dining room (Canal Grande), denoted on the back of your cruise card. You have assigned seating, which can be based on your preference: a private table or with an open group. If you are up to meeting new people and sharing cultures, I highly recommend you mix with the other cruise guests for an even richer cruise experience.
Meals are placed and served in order of starters, soups and salads, main courses, and finally, the dessert course, possibly everyone’s favorite. A particular server will be around to take alcoholic beverage orders, which includes sodas and anything that payment is required for.
A few of my favorite dishes in the Costa Cruises main dining (and isn’t it beautiful?) were Vegetable Tempura, Meatless Cannelloni, and any and all steak dishes. Save room for soufflés and Caesar salads (the homemade croutons and heavy dusting of Parmesan were great!) in the event they are offered.
Lido Marketplace Restaurant
Found on Costa Cruises Venezia’s Deck 10 is the buffet restaurant, included in your cruise fare. You’ll find breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the Lido Marketplace, with food choices changing daily. There are several areas to sit and enjoy your meal, ranging from inside and out, with different styles of dining areas to fit your specific taste.
My husband and I went to the Lido Marketplace daily for breakfast, except for having room service one morning. It’s always quick to grab your food and find a place to sit, often catching the first glimpse of the port of call you will be visiting that day.
You will find your classic morning eats, including an omelet station, pancakes, toast, potatoes, sausage, bacon, and fruit at the Lido Marketplace buffet. There are also granolas, cereals, meats and cheeses, and a massive spread of pastries. Europeans especially like their meats, cheeses, and delicious sweets for breakfast, so consider yourself lucky.
You can also get fresh and healthy detox juice drinks at the Lido Bar.
At lunch and dinner, expect to find a few vegetable dishes, 3-4 entrees, a few vegetarian options, and many seafood specialties on the buffet line. Europeans eat a lot of things from the ocean, so while I am good with shrimp, lobster, and crab, I balked at most of the choices as they were too foreign for me but an authentic luxury meal for most.
I loved having a made-to-order pasta station or the daily plates of pasta, which were assembled for each guest for the utmost freshness and flavor. Remember that there are two pasta makers at the same window, but each has a different item. I didn’t learn that until my last day of the cruise.
You’ll also find a coffee spot making all your favorite coffee drinks at the Lido Marketplace. This isn’t the basic coffees, which are still pretty darned amazing since Europeans know how to class up a cup of Joe, but the one I’m talking about is for mochas, lattes, and such. You’ll even find fresh-squeezed orange juice in the marketplace.
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Specialty Dining: An Upscale Option for Costa Cruises Food
Cruise ships have level-up dining options (specialty dining) that involve a fee. They come in all shapes and sizes for all cuisines and budgets. Costa’s specialty dining is different than most cruises I’ve done (keep in mind it is an Italian line), so the fees were a little more expensive than I was used to.
I always favor visiting the steakhouse option of specialty dining, and La Fiorentina Steak House was superb on the Costa Venezia. I had two classic dishes: a Caesar salad and Lobster Bisque soup. The French Onion soup was another choice. For my main course, I chose Surf & Turf, a petite filet with a jumbo prawn. I enhanced my steak with a side of béarnaise sauce, but the star of the plate was the melt-in-your-mouth prawn. Wow, it was good.
Fiorentina’s menu is priced à la carte, so each item has its own fee. I would consider this restaurant on a night when I wasn’t starving, for just the soup, salad, and probably dessert (the Carrot Cake Verrines was my favorite dessert of the trip). And I must add that these restaurants are lovely and have well-trained waitstaff, delivering a first-rate evening.
The Costa Toscana’s Heineken Star Club & Bistro is where my daughter, Taylor, and I hung out most nights. There was an additional fee for eating there, but we loved it so much it didn’t matter. I was addicted to the Chicken Nachos, and we often shared the Smothered Tots.
I had a salad from Heineken, too, and one night steak dinner. On the Toscana ship, this is the only steakhouse option, different than on the Venezia listed above. Heineken also offered live music, and it was excellent every night. The staff was uber friendly and helped make our vacation much more enjoyable.
A Memorable Costa Cruises Dining Experience
Casanova Restaurant is the gastronomic gourmet and the highest-rated specialty dining. Costa is the only cruise line where you can have a Michelin-star dining experience; it is one you will remember. Created by three famous chefs: Bruno Barbieri, Angel Leon, and Hélène Darroze, Casanova delivers as much a memorable experience as a delicious one. There are three culinary paths to choose from, including three courses created and curated by three world-famous chefs.
The three menus are incredibly different and diverse. As an American, I was unfamiliar with many of the ingredients. That didn’t stop me from trying them, though, and it’s things like that where you can sample things we often only hear about on TV or read about. Menu items ranged from cuttlefish rice to sea urchins and beef cheeks to crispy octopus and guinea fowl roulade.
Don’t worry; I didn’t leave hungry, that’s for sure. Many courses were absolutely delicious once I got past the “out of my comfort zone” part. Casanova’s restaurant service was impeccable. My favorite courses were the appetizer and dessert. Expect to be dazzled.
Specialty International Eats
Enjoy a hot pot meal while you are onboard your Costa Cruises vacation. I’m way too messy to try this dining option, but it is trendy. Dim Sum was another popular choice, offering three types of noodle bowls and a variety of dumplings (three each). The price for these was 2.50Euro per portion. Sushi was highly regarded amongst cruisers at Sushino on Deck 5.
I loved seeing the Lobster Bar carved display each night, with six choices of grilled, steamed, or fried prawns and lobster. I didn’t see anyone eating them, but our ship was only around 30% capacity, so perhaps I missed it.
My husband and I had a fantastic teppanyaki dinner experience at the Teppanyaki Restaurant on Deck 5. We enjoyed the cooking show, friendly entertainment, and encouraged participation. Our tasty meal was 36Euro per person. Eddie and I both had the chicken teppanyaki with soup, edamame, fried rice, and grilled vegetables.
There were several other meat options, plus tofu for vegetarians. Dessert is included.
At The Salty Beach Street Food on Deck 10, look for gourmet burgers, vegetarian, too, and focaccia sandwiches. The fries will set you back about 2Euro, but they are well worth it. Dip them in mayochup, mayo, and ketchup, perfect for this style of fries.
The sushi restaurant is incredibly popular, but we didn’t make it there. Judging from the lines and tables being full, I’d say it is a highlight when sailing with Costa Cruises.
Welcome Aboard Buffet Line
The late night we embarked on our cruise, there was a late night buffet open for us to enjoy. I had been traveling all day so vaguely remember it, but it was nice to have a near midnight dining option.
Costa Cruises Bars
I recommend purchasing a drink package to save money on a Costa cruise. There are a few levels to choose from, but remember that everyone in the cabin must have the same one. I purchased the basic drink package, including soft drinks, many beers and wines, and basic cocktails. The long list of basic cocktails included cruise favorites like Miami Vice, Between the Sheets (I haven’t had one since the 1990s), Negroni, Long Island Iced Teas, and White Russians. Many exotic and yummy coffee drinks were also available with the drink package.
The price for this deal is 22Euro per day per person age 18 and up, and 11Euro for younger cruisers, giving them liberties to sodas, a few virgin specialty drinks, and mineral water.
Pro Tip: A banana daiquiri hits the spot if the weather is hot.
Also included in the drink packages is bottled water, which we used to take on excursions and have in our stateroom throughout the day. This option alone made the package a value choice for us.
The bar I found to have the most fabulous cocktail menu was Lounge Delle Stelle, with hand-crafted cocktails such as Oakheart Ginger Mojito, Strawberry Caipirissima, and Jamaica Julep. These drinks are picture-perfect and a treat for your taste buds. The bar with the incredible energy and best photo ops is Aperol Spritz Bar on Deck 15, though it closes early.
I was near the end of my cruise when I realized that many of the bars onboard the Costa Venezia also offer finger foods or nibbles. Enjoy fried mozzarella, a Milanese chicken skewer, or red tuna tartare at Gondola for between 1-2.5Euro. The mushroom and black truffle bruschetta was delicious, too.
Ultimate Coffee Drinks
Check out Bella Bar on Deck 5 for the ultimate in coffee beverages. Pictured here is a cruiser favorite, though the name escapes me, with a creamy liqueur added to espresso, fresh whipped cream, and bits of toffee. If you want to skip the alcohol and just go straight for the caffeine, the pistachio espresso and Tiramisü coffee are both recommended.
Praise be…I’m a huge fan of the Costa Cruises room service options. While we never had crowds to wait in for food in the Lido Marketplace, it is still a terrific choice to have the knock on your door delivering breakfast in the comfort of your stateroom. I also found that room service has Eggs Benedict…really great Eggs Benedict, and crab cake Benedicts. We quickly became a regular for ordering this breakfast and a basket of tasty croissants with butter and jelly to munch on throughout the day.
There is a surcharge for room service, $5 per person. To browse the options, you can scan the QR code attached to your dresser in your stateroom. Call X6666 to place your order. Our deliveries were prompt, friendly, and exactly as ordered, even down to the extra side of hollandaise sauce. I wasn’t sure how to manage tips for room service, so we offered a Euro or more to each delivery person.
If you haven’t cruised in a while, you may be surprised to see a fee for pizza. Having owned restaurants in the past, I get the reasoning behind it and an easy solution to the long list of complaints at the pizza parlor when they run out or can’t keep up with the demand. So, for 5Euro, you can order the pizza at Pummid ‘Pro Pizzeria.
There are around 23 flavor combination options. My top pick was the Quattro Formaggi with gorgonzola, mozzarella, fontina, and taleggio. The pizzas were big enough to share, but most people ate the whole thing themselves.
Pummid ‘Pro Pizzeria has special hours, which you can verify on your OGGI A BORDO cruise ship newsletter. Rather than order from the counter, have a seat, and a server will be with you to place your order and help you. It took about 7-12 minutes to get our pizzas each time.
Another excellent option is to have the pizza delivered to your stateroom. You can order directly through room service and eat your pizza from your couch, balcony, bed, or wherever you choose to take it.
Pro Tip: Try the spicy oil or variety of toppings available for the pizzas. Yum!
Gelato and Crepes
I’m hardly ever tempted by the ice cream shops onboard cruise ships, but on the Costa Venezia, I was a sucker from day one. This lovely sweet shop, Gelateria Amarillo, is in the heart of the 10th floor, where you’ll find the best pool, dance parties, and much more. Choose from freshly prepared crepes, creamy Italian ice cream, sipping chocolate drinks, cakes, candies, and macarons. I’m willing to bet you can’t leave the cruise ship without trying it at least once and loving whatever you try.
Pro Tip: Have the Black Cherry ice cup for something exotic and yummy.
I had the Nutella and banana crepe a few times, while my husband preferred the dark chocolate strawberry version. He also had a bowl of gelato one night, which he complimented. Crepes have a fee of 4Euro, slices of cake around 2Euro, and gelato dishes for 6.50Euro. In the US, good macarons will easily run you $3-$4 each, so the three-pack for 3.50Euro was a great price point.
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