The ship's two main dining rooms -- Ristorante Roma and Ristorante Milano -- operate on a fixed seating schedule for dinner, with the first beginning at 6:30 p.m. and the second at 8:30 p.m. Each seats 700, is decorated in a contemporary Italian style and spans two decks. Menus tend toward pasta, seafood and veal entrees.
We found the service to be quite rushed though wait staff is friendly. During formal evenings the atmosphere is finessed with lit candles.
For special evenings, Club Concordia Restaurant offers a menu created by an Italian, Michelin-starred chef. The atmosphere reminds me of the supper clubs on Carnival's newer ships but it's not quite as romantic (you look over the buffet area two decks below). Unusually, there is no service charge -- but prepare for a restaurant-style eatery in the true sense of the word with every item charged a la carte. Two menus are available: the Menu a la Grande Carte, from which you can pick and choose and a tasting menu, which incorporates several courses for a set price. Reservations are highly recommended.
For more casual dining, Buffet Parigi (Paris), the ship's buffet venue, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is laid out more like a cafeteria than a food court. We loved the way that tables were set beside both of the major pools (Lido Riviera Magica and Lido Riviera Mediterraneo).
Coffee for the early risers is served from 6:30 until 7 a.m., self-service buffet is from 7 until 10 a.m. Late risers can head over to the Lido Mediterraneo side because it stays open until 11 a.m. Breakfast items range from European mainstays (cold meats and cheeses) to American ones (eggs, French toast).
At lunch, which lasts from 12:30 until 2:30 p.m., hot dishes and cold salads are featured. Complementing those offerings are specialized areas for pizza and pasta, and a grill serving hot dogs and hamburgers. For folks returning late from shore outings, these stations are open for longer hours -- until 4:30 p.m. or so (even later for pizza). Tea Time is served here, too; from 4:30 until 5:30 p.m. you can pick up light sandwiches and pastries.
During the evenings, part of the buffet venue is transformed into an upscale pizzeria complete with linen tablecloths. On some nights, the opposite half of Parigi will offer themed menus for casual dining.
Passengers residing in Samsara Spa accommodations have their own restaurant though it's oddly located (it's nowhere near the spa but rather on Deck 3, in the bowels of the ship). The cafe features wellness menus and is open seating for all three meals: breakfast between 7 and 8:45 a.m., lunch from 12:30 until 2 p.m., and dinner on a 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. schedule. Menus for the Samsara Restaurant are supervised by Ettore Bocchia, a Michelin-star chef and founder of molecular cuisine.
Editor's Note: While the Samsara Restaurant is designed to accommodate just those passengers residing in spa cabins, on my sailing there was a special offer made for all onboard -- 200 euros per person to dine for all seven days.
Cafeteria Helsinki is not a "cafeteria" at all by North Americans standards -- it is actually a midship, indoor coffee bar serving for-fee beverages, and various cakes and chocolates. This concept is new to the fleet.
Editor's Note: There are no coffees traditionally served during lunch and dinner in the dining rooms, but most of the bars can prepare a cup of espresso or cappuccino for an extra charge. However, complimentary coffee is available at Parigi restaurant during the evening.
Costa Concordia Ship Stats
- Crew: 1,068
- Launched: 2006
- Decks: 13
- Passengers: 3,000
- Registry: Italy