Ristorante Rialto (Murano Deck): The open seating main dining room serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, with dining times working around the shore excursion program. The space is beautifully appointed, with sumptuous leather chairs and comfortable banquettes. Vases of peach roses adorn every table and there’s more than a hint of the iconic Orient Express train in the frosted glass paneling that separates the booths at one end of the room, and the art deco brass table lamps.
Breakfast is buffet-style, with an impressive range of dishes. Bacon, eggs, sausages and hash browns are always available, while omelettes are made to order and daily specials might include Eggs Benedict, or waffles. A separate station serves fruit, cheese and cold cuts, while another section still offers freshly baked bread, preserves and thoughtful touches like Nutella and peanut butter miniatures. Prosecco and bloody Marys are available for those in celebratory mood. As with all meals, vegetarian, low sugar and gluten free options are offered and clearly marked.
One common complaint was the early finish for breakfast; on several days, the buffet closed at 8.30 a.m.
Lunch is timed around shore excursions and is usually served from 12.30 p.m. to 2 p.m. This meal is also a buffet. There’s an impressive salad bar with cold cuts and antipasti, as well as a daily soup and a different panini every day. There are four entrées daily, including fresh pasta, a fish or seafood dish, often with Venetian influence, like fresh mussel stew, and a heavier meat dish, such as slow roasted marinated beef rump, with local herbs. Desserts are delicate but decadent, with cheese, fruit and cookies also available. A gelato station serves the flavour of the day, with assorted toppings. Wines are generously poured and if you don’t want the wine of the day, the waiters are obliging at providing alternatives.
Dinner is an elegant, à la carte affair, usually served between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. There are four starters, two soups, three mains, a pasta of the day, and three desserts, as well as a fruit or cheese plate. Always-available options include sirloin steak, chicken breast or fillet of salmon.
Starters might include tomato salad with eggplant caviar; whisky-cured salmon; or seafood pasta. One of the soups is always the signature chicken soup of Bea Tollman, the matriarch of the family that owns Uniworld. Mains include dishes like pan-seared sea bream, a vegetarian brioche burger or slow-roasted veal tenderloin.
The use of local ingredients and culinary style is impressive. A section of the menu highlights the Venetian-inspired dishes, as well as indicating which dishes are lighter and healthier.
Wines are poured with dinner, while wine pairings from the premium list are suggested.
Cielo’s (Lido di Venezia Deck): Cielo’s is a casual pizzeria located on the top deck, perfect for a laid-back evening of comfort food. It’s a pretty, conservatory-stye setting with a dedicated pizza oven. There are only 18 covers, so you need to make a reservation, and a fixed menu. Antipasti include sharing plates of burrata and grilled peppers. Pizza choices are pretty classic, ranging from Margarita to mushroom and pepperoni; no pineapple here. The pizzas are excellent, freshly cooked to order, crispy, with generous filling. There’s a choice of three desserts, including a spectacular tiramisu.
La Cantinetta (Mazzorbo Deck); €95 per person: La Cantinetta is a private dining room with a small show kitchen, bookable for wine-paired dinners for up to 12. The five-course menu includes antipasti, minestrone soup, ravioli and linguine, and pan-fried sea bream, followed by a trio of desserts. A different wine is paired with each dish and it’s essentially this that you pay for.
Room Service: A comfort food room service menu is available, including items like a club sandwich, pasta and cheese plate. Suite guests can order room service breakfast, too.