Holland America Line’s newest ship, Rotterdam, is home to several dining experiences. Among the eateries on the ship is the Italian specialty restaurant Canaletto. This up-charge venue offers an upscale dinner with an exclusive menu. We dined here during our Caribbean cruise earlier this year. Was it worth the cover charge? Find out as we share all of the details in our Holland America Canaletto Review.
Holland America Canaletto Restaurant Review
As over-planners, we always reserve our dining pre-cruise. This trip on Rotterdam was no different. Reviewing the multiple restaurants and menus, we made a reservation at Canaletto on night 5 of the cruise for our preferred dining time of 6:30 pm.
Uncharacteristically, we were ready for our reservation 15 minutes early. So, we decided to head up to the restaurant. To our surprise, the venue was empty. This was a far cry from our dinner at the ship’s steakhouse, the Pinnacle Grill, a few nights before.
Checking in with the hostess, we were escorted to a table for two right next to the windows.
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Inside Canaletto on Holland America
On Holland America’s Rotterdam, Canaletto is located on the starboard side of Deck 9 in front of the Lido Marketplace. While many cruise lines do have specialty restaurants next to the buffet, there is usually more separation and unique theming.
With a transparent wall dividing this dining space from the rest of the buffet, Canaletto feels almost like an extension of the Lido Marketplace. Still, there is some unique décor including a varied color palette and seating options. Some metallic accents and rich wine tones also add character to this specialty restaurant.
However, what the venue may have lacked in styling, the service certainly made up for it. Our waitress and bar server were very attentive and friendly. Our dinner was well-paced, with the entire three course feast taking about 75 minutes.
The Canaletto restaurant menu features “daily specials”. Given were visiting on a Thursday, the night’s special was Veal Saltimbocca. Although, we were told that if we had made a request 24 hours in advance, we could have gotten one of the other “daily specials”. This is good to know, as the wife’s favorite Italian dish, chicken parmigiana, is only available on Sundays.
Dining in Canaletto on Holland America
Reviewing the menu, we first ordered a round of drinks. I went with a glass of wine, and the Princess ordered a Cosmo.
Knowing I was going to order two entrees, I opted for only one starter. The grilled calamari was a tender, tasty alternative to this fried classic. The pesto sauce added texture and a bit of zest to this Italian seafood dish.
The wife went with the buffalo mozzarella as her starter. This classic appetizer was a bit of a disappointment, as it lacked flavor.
For an entrée, she went with the Pasta Genovese. This pasta dish comes with vegetables in a light wine-based sauce. Of course, she asked for added grilled chicken. She enjoyed this course of her meal much better.
For my entrees, I started with a dish that I loved during our visit to the restaurant on Nieuw Amsterdam, the braised short rib gnocchi.
Similar to that initial visit, this pasta dish came with rich, tender short rib. It was coated in a light butter-based sauce with baked gnocchi. These dense potato pasta were baked, giving the meal more dimension and texture. Thus, it was a great balance of savory meat and hearty pasta.
Further, my second option was the veal saltimbocca. This was prepared in a traditional manner with two thin slices of veal breaded and coated with ham, cheese, and a wine sauce. While good, I still preferred the short rib dish.
With these large and robust offerings, finding room for dessert was difficult. Though, I am so glad I did not skip this third course. Fans of authentic Italian desserts will definitely want to order the orange blossom ricotta tart.
This sweet dessert tastes like something you would expect from a pastry shop in the North End of Boston. A buttery crust surrounds a ricotta filling with a few berries adding just the right amount of natural sweetness and flavor to this rendition of cheesecake. Undoubtedly, this was by far my best dessert all cruise. Of course, the wife’s affogato did not compare!
Recap of Our Holland America Canaletto Restaurant Review
For those who love Italian food, Canaletto offers a diverse menu featuring many of the classics you would expect to find at a restaurant on land. The different small plates, meats, and pastas offer plenty of options for couples or families looking to share.
Along with daily specials, the menu also features some unique preparations of classic Italian-American dishes. Combining different flavors and cooking styles, this specialty restaurant offers more upscale menu options than you will find in the main dining room. Among our favorite selections were the pasta and certainly the dessert.
With a cover charge of just $19 plus 18% gratuity, Canaletto is a great value. With a more casual atmosphere, this specialty restaurant is ideal for those returning from a long day ashore. Further, the intimate space and personalized service offer a nice change from the often hectic and crowded main dining room.
Thus, we suggest you give Canaletto a try on your next Holland America cruise.
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Do you agree with our Holland America Canaletto Review? Have you dined at this specialty restaurant on a Holland America Line ship before? Drop us an anchor below with your HAL specialty dining reviews.