Costa Romantica Dining
The Botticelli Restaurant is the ship's main dining room. It's located on Deck 8 aft with large windows on three sides. During the day, windows give views of the sea; at night one of two sets of shades is drawn -- plain room-darkening shades for ordinary dinners and shades that depict classic Costa posters for festive dinners. For festive dinners, there are also candles placed on the tables. The restaurant is one deck high. Most tables are for eight diners, but there are some tables for four and a very few for two. The floor, like those throughout the public areas of the ship, is marble. As all surfaces are hard, the noise level can be deafening, particularly in the evening.
Breakfast is served each morning from 7:30 until 9:15 a.m. Only hot beverages and eggs made to order (other than scrambled) are served. All other items are self-serve from a buffet of pastries, sausage, French toast, bacon and scrambled eggs. Catering to a European clientele, the buffet also offers smoked fish and sliced cheeses and meats. There are fruit juices, fruit salads, whole fruit and yogurt.
Lunch is served from a menu, divided among appetizers, soups, salads, pastas, entrees, cheeses and desserts. (There's at least one vegetarian offering in each category.) Dinner is served from a menu, and the offerings are presented in the same categories as at lunch. There are bottles of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar on each table for dipping bread and making salad dressings. Stewards take orders for all courses, including dessert, at the beginning of each meal. Coffee and tea are not served in the restaurant except at breakfast. Asterisks next to items on the menu indicate the main ingredient has been frozen, which is the case for all seafood and meat dishes. Portions are neither overwhelming, nor skimpy. It's possible to order many courses without overeating, but it will take the same amount of time to dine if you order two courses or six, as later course offerings are not made available to waiters until after earlier courses have been served. As for quality, think "Olive Garden," and you won't be disappointed.
The maitre d' makes every effort to seat speakers of the same language together. He failed in my case, as I ended up at a table for eight with only a charming Turkish couple whose English was limited (but better than my nonexistent Turkish). The line offers parents the option of allowing their teenaged children to sit at tables with other teenagers. This appeared to work well for both parents and teenagers. Breakfast and lunch are served open seating, while dinner is served in two seatings -- 7 and 9:15 p.m. On Italian Night, there are Italian songs piped over the loudspeaker in place of the songs formerly performed by the stewards (a result, no doubt, of the change in nationality of the crew from Italian -- when the custom began -- to Filipino).
Il Giardino is the buffet restaurant. Located aft on Deck 10, the room is divided into small seating areas with attractive wicker furniture. Outside the buffet there is an outdoor seating area called La Terrazza, which is shaded by a sail-like awning. Here there are wooden tables for four with padded chairs. Service in Il Giardino is divided into efficient stations.
Breakfast in Il Giardino is similar to the one offered in the dining room -- buffet for most items and a station for eggs made to order. Lunch features make-your-own salads, prepared salads, bread, cheese and cold cuts (for sandwiches), pizza, soup, a hot dish of the day (reflecting the cuisine of one of the nationalities onboard), desserts, fruit, yogurt and soft ice cream. On La Terrazza, grilled hotdogs and hamburgers with French fries are offered. Afternoon tea is served in Il Giardino. There are sandwiches, pastries and a dietetic corner for sugarless desserts.
A nice touch: There's a steward making individual infusions from large canisters of loose tea. Various teas, both varietals and herbal, are offered, and you can request a blend of your own choosing.
In the evening there's an informal dinner buffet, offering the same menu as the dining room, but served cafeteria-style. On warm nights you may take your tray out to La Terrazza to dine al fresco. Coffee and tea are available in Il Giardino 24 hours a day. There's a Pizzeria in the Romeo Bar on Deck 9, which serves individual pizzas in the late afternoon and late at night (at no charge).
Room service is offered 24 hours per day. There is a free service of continental breakfast: cereals, breads, pastries, juice, coffee and tea. At other times of the day, there's a limited menu of sandwiches and salads, for which there is a 2 euro ($2.40) cover charge.