An extra-charge Italian eatery serving fresh-made pasta and other Italian dishes in a casual setting.
La Cucina Del Capitano is, as the name suggest, an Italian restaurant. The big surprise, perhaps, is that all the pasta is freshly made by the chefs – at least, as fresh as you can make it for hundreds of people. It’s a smaller restaurant, more homey than the Northern Lights and Southern Lights. La Cucina is located on deck 11, right above the Lido. Because it’s so far up in the ship, it has a beautiful view over the ocean and sunsets — a perfect place for a romantic dinner.
The menu is not very long, but that doesn’t mean the decision making is any easier. Appetizers include antipasti, caprese salad, eggplant Parmesan, calamari, meatballs, minestrone, baby arugula salad, and Caesar’s salad. For entrees, La Cucina offers a special dish, Il Baccio del Mare, a pasta dish with little neck clams, that, according to Carnival, is made after the captain’s wife’s secret recipe. Other than that, there are old favorites on the menu, like linguini with meatballs, spaghetti carbonara, chicken parmesan, grilled salmon or shrimps, braised short ribs, and an Italian version of a New York sirloin steak.
La Cucina has the feel of a small, family-owned restaurant. The tables are lined with red and white checkered table cloths, different looking chairs and a high table. One of the two possible entrances is through the Lido and up a staircase, which is open, and Carnival installed two beautiful glass Tiffany-like chandeliers. The same mosaic is found on all the lamps throughout the restaurant. The open staircase is surrounded by a railing and closed off with iron latticework. Magnum bottles with fake candles are placed around the railing On the railing, and the walls are full of old style photographs of Cunard and Carnival vessels. It is an overall simple, but nice, decoration.
There is no charge for the pasta lunch, but dinner carries a surcharge of $12 per person ($5 for kids).
For lunch, La Cucina offers a Pasta Bar, and diners have a choice between three types of pastas and several different sauces. Upon arrival, a waiter hands passengers a piece of paper on which one writes which pasta and sauce one wants. You give your choice directly to the Chef, waiting at the Pasta Station, and after just a few minutes, you get your lunch. The pasta is al dente and the sauce well-seasoned, but it’s not as good as the dinner you can get here.
Dinner is a little different in La Cucina, with a proper menu and some delicious wine choices. We ordered the insalata caprese one day, with deliciously thick slices of tomato and Mozzarella. Better yet, was “Il Capitano’s Signature Arancini”. These little risotto balls are filled with Parmesan cheese, and served with some Baby Arugula leaves over tomato sauce. It is a little on the heavier side but delicious.
Of course we also tried the signature dish, “Il Baccio del Mare,” with linguini al dente and tasty clams. Only the tomato sauce could have used a little bit more punching up. On the other hand, the spaghetti carbonara was spot-on. The pancetta bacon is not too crispy, the cream sauce perfect, and the fried oregano and parmesan make it even better. According to the menu, this is one of Carnival’s longest served dishes (starting in the 1940s), and rightly so – it is delicious.
Desserts at La Cucina del Capitano are typical Italian: tiramisu, cannoli, panna cotta.