Dining on AmaMagna takes place at any of four restaurants: the Main Restaurant, The Al Fresco Restaurant, Jimmy's Wine Bar & Restaurant or The Chef's Table. Quality is consistent from venue to venue, even if the menu options change. The standout is The Al Fresco Restaurant, which serves a set menu that doesn't change from night to night. Items like a shaved asparagus salad and parmesan soup, which seem simple enough, are creatively prepared and tickle the taste buds. We'd dine there a couple of times per cruise.
Passengers can dine at any of the four restaurants as they'd like, but they do need to make reservations for all but the Main Restaurant, and on our sailing, these filled quickly. Make your reservations when you board to guarantee you can sample each. (It's worth asking the concierge when the captain's dinner and La Chaine des Rotisseurs meal are served so you can make sure you're in the Main Restaurant for those meals.)
Meals at all restaurants are served by knowledgeable waiters and waitresses who quickly learn your name and preferences and make menu suggestions as needed. Wine, beer and soft drinks are included at lunch and dinner, and some spirits are also gratis at dinner.
You won't lack for food, with late-night tapas, buffets and dessert bars popping up regularly onboard.
Main Restaurant (Decks 2): The biggest restaurant on AmaMagna (seats up to 140 people), this one's open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast and lunch are buffet style, with a daily live cooking station serving popular choices like Vietnamese pho and pasta creations, while dinner is a sit-down event. There are no set times for breakfast or lunch, though everyone is encouraged to head to dinner at the same time. You also won't find set seating at any meal.
The restaurant itself features booths and round tables with most seating six, though a handful of tables are available for two. The middle of the restaurant features two parallel long counters, which are used for the buffet setups during the day. The layout of the restaurant overall is a bit odd, in that, for buffet meals, the space is really tight; you'll often have to squeeze between a counter and people or simply change your course to walk from one side to the other. The wait staff have it better choreographed than the passengers, but they, too, face the same challenges. It's minor but worth noting, especially for those who might have mobility issues.
Breakfast features essentially the same options every day, with minor changes. The variety is excellent, and you can choose from cold items like cereal, fruit or yogurt, or hot items such as eggs, bacon and sausage. You can also order from the menu, with egg dishes and oatmeal on order, or simply walk up to the hot station at the back and have the chef make eggs to your liking.
Lunch changes every day, but you'll always have some fresh salad option along with cold cuts, cheese and bread. You can also order entrees and soups from the daily menu. A few items, including pizza and hamburgers, are always available from the menu. Make sure to save room on Bavaria day, where you'll get your fill of sausage, ham, pork belly and other bits of pork goodness, along with hot pretzels and mustard, sauerkraut and spaetzle. (Our favorite was the creamy cheese spaetzle, ordered from the menu.) Wash it down with a big glass of pilsner (servers wander the restaurant with trays filled with the famous beer of the region and are eager to hand them out for your meal).
Dinner has a set menu, which changes every night. The multicourse meal consists of appetizers, salad or soup, and entrees, along with desserts. Always-available items include salmon, steak or chicken breast. Chef's recommendations are listed on the left side of the menu, though you can order whatever you'd like. Regional specialties often show up on the menu, which are always well-prepared. Chefs can easily accommodate most dietary restrictions, though it's wise to alert AmaWaterways at the time of your booking and follow up once you're onboard with the maitre d' and your waiters. Once a cruise, AmaMagna offers a La Chaine des Rotisseurs menu. This is a scrumptious, though heavy, French meal served with fine wines. You'll dine on items like foie gras, lamb chops and French onion soup. It's a meal to look forward to, so make sure you plan to eat that night at the Main Restaurant or at Jimmy's Wine Bar (see below).
The Al Fresco Restaurant (Deck 3): Breakfast, lunch and dinner are available in The Al Fresco Restaurant. Offerings for breakfast and lunch are a bit light; usually a pared-down version of what's offered in the Main Restaurant. But the atmosphere is terrific, with floor-to-ceiling windows at the front of the ship. When AmaMagna is not sailing and the weather is nice, the windows can be opened. For breakfast, you can order eggs and oatmeal, and while there's no menu at lunch, you can order items from the lunch menu offered at the Main Restaurant. Tapas, such as baba ghanoush, serrano ham and chorizo, and mushrooms stuffed with tuna, are served here all day. A gluten-free corner, serving pastries and cookies, is located at the back of this restaurant.
For dinner, the menu is set, and you only have to pick your appetizer and entree. The rest is filled in with tiny starters like goat cheese and marinated figs, cheese soup and a refreshing beetroot and ginger granita. The portions are small enough that you can clean all your plates without guilt, walking away satisfied rather than stuffed.
Savory snacks are served in The Al Fresco Restaurant after 10 p.m.
The Chef's Table (Deck 1): The menu at The Chef's Table is set, and you should expect this one to be your longest meal of the week. We lost track of courses, after an amuse-bouche, appetizer, salad, fish course and meat course. Plating is gorgeous, and care is given to all aspects of preparation: You can actually watch the chefs make your meal, thanks to an open-kitchen concept. Because the menu is set, vegetarians and those with restrictive diets should check with the maitre d' before booking.
Jimmy's Wine Bar & Restaurant (Deck 1): Named after the late Jimmy Murphy, one of the founders of AmaWaterways, Jimmy's is a family-style restaurant. It's one of the prettier venues onboard, with long, wooden tables and earthy greens. Menus here are based on the menu offered that night in the Main Restaurant, but you don't have quite the selection, and the choice is made for you: You'll be served everything on the Jimmy's menu, family style. Waiters bring plates piled high with appetizers and salads, and then a meat and a fish entree. It's finished off with one dessert option. All of it comes on large plates, with serving utensils, and you pass the plates around the table for everyone to share.
We love the concept of the family-style venue, but we suspect sharing plates might be difficult for introverts who aren't keen on meeting new people. By the end of the cruise, when people have gotten to know one another, it might be a more popular option. It also can make for some odd meal pairings, with things like Wiener schnitzel and salmon served at the same seating. (But man, that Wiener schnitzel is good.) If you really like a food -- or even a part of a dish -- you can ask for more.
Jimmy's is also open for late-night tapas and wine.
Room Service: Coffee and pastries can be delivered to your cabin in the morning. Just order via card and hang it on your doorknob the night before and pick your delivery time.