The quality of the food onboard MSC Virtuosa, both free and for fee, is of a high standard and a lot of it (mozzarella, bread, pasta) is made fresh daily. All meals are included in your fare and if you're on a seven-day cruise you will not be bored if you eat in the main dining rooms every evening (note, depending on which "Experience" you opt for, you will be assigned a specific dining room), and the buffet during the day, so varied are the food options. However, just for a change, you might wish to try out one of the specialty restaurants, which are not included in your cruise fare, one evening.
In all four main dining rooms, dinner is a three- or four-course affair, with a different menu every night, which will always include a freshly made pasta dish and a fish dish. There are also always-available dishes including steamed fish fillet and grilled chicken breast. There is also a suggested a Healthy Option menu, complete with calories, fat, carbs and protein.
Twice a cruise there is a gala dinner, which ups the ante even higher. The Executive Chef will prepare a five-course menu which might include cream of asparagus and beef consomme to start and herb-crusted tenderloin or pan-seared salmon as entrees.
If you're after a quick casual bite, then the buffet is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks throughout the day and into the early hours. Pasta, bread and mozzarella (made in a machine at the entrance) are made fresh daily. There will always be some sort of regional cuisine on offer as well as salads, pizza, a daily roast, burgers, soups and grilled fish and chicken. For dessert you'll find sweets and cheeses on offer.
Note that the buffet is not self-serve, you simply point to the dish you want and are served. Same with drinks.
Unlike the big U.S. cruise ships, there are relatively few fee dining options, but what the ship lacks in quantity it makes up for in quality. There's no need to eat in these, but if you wanted a change and you craved a specific cuisine or you have an occasion to celebrate, it might be fun to try one.
The line also offers a Dining Package, which includes three restaurants at a set price which you can buy onboard or before you set sail.
Tip: Check your MSC for Me app to see what special offers these restaurants might have on. Sometimes they will throw in a free bottle of wine, especially on the first night or on a port day.
A new-to-the-line venue which is a Vietnamese-French fusion concept, in a beautiful setting nestled at the back of the Bistrot. It's not cheap, but it is definitely the most refined of the five for-fee options, with exceptional service, décor and cuisine. Also note, although it's billed French-Vietnamese fusion, the emphasis is much more on the Asian flavors so expect spring rolls, tom yam soup and pork belly.
This American-style steakhouse gets our vote for one of the best at sea, with a wide range of excellent cuts of meat (Really hungry? Go for the Tomahawk cut), great sides including mac n' cheese and outstanding desserts including lava cake and New York Cheesecake. The red booths and black and white prints on the walls add to the authenticity. There's a great wine list, with some full-bodied reds as a perfect accompaniment.
Tip: Opt for the set dining package rather than a la carte which is a lot more expensive.
A French-themed bistro off the main promenade serving with French classics, such as pate, vichyssoise and, of course, escargots to start; and moules mariniere, boeuf bourginon and steak frites for mains. There's a small stage and live music most evenings.
If you are after a show as well as a meal, then this is for you. Anyone familiar with the Teppanyaki concept -- sitting around a hot plate as your chef creates your meal for you -- will feel right at home. There's egg throwing, food flipping, utensil juggling and a constant stream of cheesy gags and songs to keep you permanently smiling. Choose from three different set menus, including a veggie only. The food is great too!
This is in contrast to the craziness of the teppanyaki, a quiet, authentic sushi bar situated just outside the restaurant, this serves fresh made sushi at very reasonable prices. Excellent for a light lunchtime option.
Another new-to-the-line venue, this Mexican-themed restaurant is fun and reasonably priced and great for a quick bite. It also does mezcal tasting. Not ideal for a romantic night out, but fun if you are in a group.
If you're going to splurge we're torn between Butcher's Cut and Kaito Teppanyaki.
Butcher's Cut gets our vote for truly top-notch steak in a refined setting and would be ideal for a couple.
Kaito Teppanyaki has great Asian cuisine and is so much fun for families with young kids.