Emerald Azzurra Dining

Editor Rating
Very Good
Sue Bryant

Food on Emerald Azzurra is excellent. Menus are Mediterranean-inspired with touches of Asian fusion, and with plenty of healthy choices. Breakfast and lunch are buffets, while dinner is waiter-served.

Emerald Azzurra has just two places to find food: the La Cucina restaurant and the Aqua Pool Café, where light breakfasts and lunches are served.

There is no specialty dining or for-fee restaurant.

La Cucina

Breakfast, lunch and dinner take place in the elegant La Cucina restaurant on Deck 3. Breakfast and lunch are buffet style, while dinner is waiter-served. The setting is reminiscent of an upscale brasserie ashore, with plenty of light gray, pale wood and white marble-topped tables. Banks of glossy plants create the sensation of smaller booths and more private areas to sit. On the port side, the tables are on a raised level, with high stools.

For breakfast, there’s a wide choice of pastries, all baked from scratch on board. Hot items might include bacon, mushrooms, hash browns and scrambled eggs, with omelets made to order. There’s fresh fruit, cereals, juices, a smoothie and a shot of the day (sometimes with very strange combinations, for example, ginger and grapefruit), as well as smoked salmon. Gluten free bread is available.

Lunch is a decent salad bar with daily-changing toppings and cold dishes ranging from hummus to fresh mussels or slow-roasted bell peppers, a soup, and four or five hot dishes, often with a roast of the day. A whole salt-crusted salmon was spectacular. Desserts are usually dainty tarts, like a deconstructed lemon meringue pie, or pretty cakes, with ice cream and cheese available.

Dinner is a lengthier affair, with hot and cold starters, a choice of three mains, one of which is always vegetarian, and an always-available list that includes staples like salmon, sirloin steak, Jidory chicken, shrimp cocktail and Caesar salad. A nice touch is that there’s a sharing dish every day, usually of fresh pasta or risotto. You can go off-menu if you like – for example, have the risotto as a side to your main.

Local red and white wine are generously poured with lunch and dinner and if you ask for it, a French rose. There’s a premium wine list if you want to splash out but the local wines are actually excellent and perfectly enjoyable for most.

On sunny days and balmy evenings, there’s competition for the outside seating, aft of the restaurant. Almost half the passengers can sit outside if all the places are filled. A couple of big tables outside seat eight and are ideal for anybody who fancies sharing and chatting, while the two-tops are in big demand. Take sunglasses; the setting sun can be pretty dazzling.

Aqua Pool Cafe

There’s a small dining area next to the infinity pool offering a lighter version of the buffet breakfast (croissants and fruit plates, for example) and a separate lunch menu of salads, sandwiches, filled rolls, desserts and ice cream with toppings. A popcorn machine provides snacks. At lunchtime, be sure to check out the flatbread menu. A choice of 10 flatbreads with different toppings ranges from the basic Caprese (mozzarella, tomato and basil) to the more exotic Levantine (artichokes, ricotta and lemon). The flatbreads are a lovely, light alternative to pizza. Gluten free versions are available, too.

Tip: If you’re a coffee aficionado, get your fix here, rather than in La Cucina; the gleaming La Cimbali machine produces a much better espresso.

Dietary Restrictions on Emerald Azzurra

All menu items are clearly marked to indicate whether they are vegetarian, dairy free, nut free or gluten free. There are vegetarian choices at every meal, some of them also vegan. Gluten free bread and flatbreads are made from scratch in the galley.

Because this is a small ship with a focus on personal service, anybody with a special dietary requirement can easily have a chat to the chef of the maitre d’ to explain exactly what they need. We tried this, often mixing and matching menu items to get around a seafood allergy, and the crew were exceptionally accommodating.

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