The eight cruisers had chosen Giovanni’s Table, the Italian Eatery in Central Park, for our final dinner of the voyage. We had thoroughly enjoyed our first dinner at Chops Grille and had been slightly disappointed in the majority of our evening meals in the Main Dining Room and thus we were looking forward to a great experience to conclude this wonderful week onboard the world’s largest cruise ship.
Our very capable server this evening was Arguejus, from Chile. Despite being from South America he had acquired a very passable Italian accent and he suggested several different items to be brought to the table and served family style.
We selected the 2008 Peter Lehmann, Shiraz “The Weight Ticket”. Lots of dark jammy flavors with hints of pepper and spices this Australian wine was priced right and served as an excellent partner for the rich dished to come.
This item turned out to be the favorite of most of our dining partners. It’s even fun to say. This was the Sformato di Fontina e Spinaci con Funghi Tripolati e Pomodorini (double-baked fontina and spinach souffle, Italian-style sauteed mushrooms and grape tomatoes. We had to have Arguejus bring more of this to keep everyone happy.
We also shared some Capresse and Antipaste with fresh meats, cheeses and roasted red peppers and a plate of Foccaccia with herbs, potatoes, olives and pesto. We feasted on these dishes for a while before it was time for the pasta portion of our feast.
It was hard to pick a favorite from the trio of pasta dishes placed before us. This was the Ravioli di Polpa di Granchio, Maryland crab ravioli with shrimp, chili oil and grape tomato sauce. Nicely presented and tasting just as good as it looked.
This was the Gnocchi di Potate con Crema al Gorgonzola a Sugo d’Agnello, potato gnocchi tossed in light blue cheese sauce on thyme-scented baby lamb and root vegetable sauce. We passed this around and watched the entire plate disappear in a heartbeat. We barely had room for what turned out to be our absolute runaway favorite of the pasta dishes….
The Risotto Pomodoro, Basilino Mozzarella 3 Verdure Griglianti, tomato, basil and mozzarella risotto topped with grilled veggies and herb oil. Unlike the risotto we had in the Main Dining Room on the previous evening, this one was cooked to perfection. It was chock full of wonderful, cheesy flavors and we had to force ourselves to pause in our eating because we had forgotten that our entrees were still to come.
I had the chicken breast filled with ricotta and mushrooms, wrapped in prosciutto and served with a Chardonnay-sage sauce. The chicken was wonderful and I was pleased with my entree.
Several at the table opted for the beef. In this case, an 8 ounce beef tenderloin served with garlic fries in a Barolo reduction sauce. These are the nice, meaty fries that I don’t see often enough. Everyone was happy with this choice.
This was probably the best looking of all the plates on our table. The veal ossobuco au jus with tomatoes, mushrooms, cheese polenta and sauteed green beans. I was told it tasted every bit as good as it looked.
We had one fish lover in the group and she selected as her entree the baked filet of Sea Bass atop baby lentils in a red wine reduction and artichoke cream. The fish was tender and flaky and the lentils added just the right texture to make this creation a winner.
We gorged ourselves on canollis and some excellent tiramisu and were proud that we were able to leave Giovanni’s Table under our own power. You certainly are never going to find this much food and this much food quality for the ridiculous $10.00 service charge which we gladly paid. It almost doesn’t make sense to hope for something decent in the main dining room when this kind of feast is offered in such close proximity. Giovanni’s is a winner!