Thursday, February 19, 2009

Costa, Rhymes With Pasta

There’s nothing I love better than Italian food and a plate of pasta from Costa Fortuna’s Cristoforo Colombo buffet restaurant at lunch satisfied my hunger pains for hours … that is, until dinner when I seldom passed up the pasta course in the formal Restaurant Raffaello. I’ll even admit that one evening we decided to forgo the more formal atmosphere of the Restaurant Raffaello and dined casually in the buffet. Being a buffet, naturally there were other items to choose from, including a carving station, but I headed straight for the just-cooked pasta station.

Seriously, there was (pardon the pun) a buffet of pastas offered during our Costa Fortuna cruise last week and I attempted to try them all. Of course there was spaghetti, but also penne, fusilli, ravioli, and gnocchi. Sauces ranged from familiar tomato-based, either plain or with meat, eggplant, and even swordfish added, to creamy Alfredo and even a tasty Genovese pesto that any Italian cook would be proud to serve. Sadly, I had to pass on the manicotti because it was stuffed with a cheese mixture including spinach. Darn my allergy to spinach!

To make up for that disappointment, I had an extra slice of pizza. As a former-Chicagoan, I like my pizza prepared in a cast iron pan with a nice thick crust and lots and lots of cheese. While Costa Fortuna’s pizza chefs prepared theirs with a thin crust, it was heaped with cheese and the crust was flaky with a flavor all its own.

I don’t mean to give the impression that you’ll have to subside on a diet of pasta and pizza on a Costa cruise. Indeed, one evening I ordered Osso Buco in the Restaurant Raffaello and, layered atop risotto, the fork-tender veal was heaven. On other nights, prime rib was served perfectly cooked and a lobster bisque had me swooning. Baked onboard, the breads were crusty and delizioso. Don’t even get me started on the tiramisu! I wanted seconds, but restrained myself.

Coffee lovers like me were pleased to find Lavazza coffees served not only in a specialty coffee bar as on many ships, but in all the bars on Costa Fortuna where espresso, cappuccino, “American” coffee, and chilled coffee drinks were available. While the complimentary coffee throughout the ship was above-average, the specialty coffee drinks were a squisito way to start the day. No wonder Costa Fortuna is a happy ship.

For a look at Costa Fortuna, including a link to the photo tour, visit Tomorrow I’ll share another installment from our Feb 8th cruise here on the blog.

Photo: Demostrating the art of Italian cooking aboard Costa Fortuna

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