You'll be greeted with a "buona sera" as you enter Oceania Cruises' Toscana restaurant, a taste of Tuscany onboard your cruise ship. Dinners here demonstrate Italians' passionate love of food, in a mellow atmosphere. Come hungry for multiple plates, but also for a lesson in Italian specialties including wine, olive oil and balsamic vinegar -- you'll be guaranteed to taste something new.
With warm, low-lit lighting and white-linened tables against mellow colors and creams, Toscana creates a romantic atmosphere. There are ample windows in the restaurant, but the focus is on the food -- even the china was exclusively designed to highlight it, with cherubs and Romanesque flourishes. A variety of tables set for groups or couples are spread throughout the restaurant, with the best tables toward the back, overlooking the wake. (You might be asked to share a table, so specify dining plans upon making a reservation.)
Dinner is divided the traditional way, into hot or cold antipasti, soup, pasta or risotto, salad and the main course. However, the meal begins with the olive oil cart. Along with your fresh bread basket, various olive oils and balsamic vinegars are brought tableside and explained by a server to match your preference of sweet or acidic. Parmesan chunks chipped right out of a giant wheel are also served as savory pre-dinner "candy."
A caprese salad with buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes and basil is on the menu to start, as are beef or octopus carpaccio (we learned that they freeze the octopus to slice it so thinly), baby calamari, jumbo shrimp wrapped in prosciutto or an artichoke and Parmesan stack with black truffle sauce. Minestrone or potato and pancetta are the main soups. Salads include field greens, tomatoes and cucumbers with aged balsamic; spinach with Sardinian goat cheese, olives and a lemon-oregano vinaigrette; or a Caesar made tableside. Risottos feature either vegetables or lobster, with a special of the day also on the menu.
Pasta can be served as an appetizer or entree, and span gnocchi, angel hair pasta, giant tortellonis and penne with porcini mushrooms to linguini with seafood, lasagna Bolognese or a trio if you can't decide: a risotto, a fettucine carbonara and tortelloni with ricotta cheese and spinach. With advanced notice, the kitchen can prepare some of the pastas as gluten-free. (The cruise line recommends that passengers make their dietary restrictions and allergies known at the beginning of the sailing.)
The main event features crowd favorites like an osso buco Milanese, which is an oven-braised veal shank; lobster tail fra diavolo with sauteed garlic and chili flakes (served over pasta); the branzino, a sea bass filet pan-seared and served with lemons, capers and chardonnay; and the Dover sole, simply prepared with lemon, parsley, butter and steamed potatoes.
Your dolci -- or dessert -- menu is served with a selection of fresh biscotti (hint: order a glass of sweet Italian dessert wine to dip them in). Regional choices include cannolis; zabaione, an Italian spongecake soaked in rum and filled with chocolate and coffee; a vanilla panna cotta custard with red berry compote; a "chocolate lasagna" with ganache and layers of cocoa dough served with pistachio sauce and, of course, the tiramisu, mascarpone cream and lady fingers soaked in espresso, amaretto and aged brandy (topped with fruit). The Toscana Quintet offers a sampling of five desserts.
Note: This is a sample menu and is subject to change by ship and itinerary.
Toscana is included in the price of your cruise fare, but reservations are required. Oceania passengers receive at least one guaranteed reservation in Toscana per cruise (depending on the length of the sailing), with the chance for more, depending on availability. Suite passengers are allowed unlimited dinners, based on availability, in Toscana.
Which Oceania Ships Have Toscana?
Toscana is available on: