A Look at Holland America’s Updated Canaletto Restaurant Menu

by Janis on May 17, 2014

Canaletto, Holland AmericaLast September, when I sailed on Holland America Line’s Oosterdam cruise ship to Alaska, the line was testing a new “sharing menu” in the Canaletto Restaurant.

The Canaletto is an Italian alternative dining option that costs $10 per guest per night.

Holland America CanalettoThe Canaletto Restaurant, named after a 18th century Venetian artist, is open for evening meals only, and is a designated section of the Lido Restaurant dining area.

While the Canaletto hasn’t been Mr. Jones or my favorite dining venue in the past, some new friends and I decided to try out the new menu last September.  We learned that the new trial menu was based on the concept of Spartire, which is an Italian word for sharing.

Updated Canaletto Spartire Sharing Menu is now Fleet-wide

By taking a look at the Canaletto  sample menu on the Holland America’s website, it appears most everything my group tried on the “test”  sharing menu last September are now a part of the fleet wide Canaletto menu.

Note: the menu suggests that each table order two small plates, one pasta and one large plate for every two people in the dining party. We were a group of three, and we couldn’t agree on what to order.

Our solution: we ordered everything that we each wanted and agreed to share tastes with each other.

We started with these four small plates:

Vermouth Braise Clams


Vermouth Braised Clams with spicy chorizo, garlic and basil. (This dish was a favorite of all of my dining companions.)

Salumi, Canaletto, Holland AmericaSalumi: prosciutto, coppa, grissini, shaved pecorino, and assorted olives. (This small plate was appealing, especially the prosciutto.)

Veal and Sage Polpettine, CanalettoVeal and Sage Polpettine with glazed cippolini onions in a rustic tomato sauce. (The meatballs were delicious, but onions beside the meatballs were a little strange.)

Duck and Chicken Liver Pate, CanalettoDuck and Chicken Liver Pate with spiced duck preserve, rustic toast and kumquat marmalade. (Not for me, but one of my friends loved it.)

Moving on to the pasta, once again we couldn’t choose just one, so we ordered two of the pastas.

Shrimp Pappardelle, CanalettoPappardelle Pasta with shrimp, artichokes, and lemon-herb emulsion.  (We all thought this was an excellent pasta choice; but it is a heavy dish.)

Rigatoni,  Canaletto, Holland AmericaRigatoni Pasta with Italian sausage and Kalamata olives in a spicy tomato sauce. (This was okay; it didn’t wow but there was nothing to complain about regarding this dish.)

For the Large Plates, once again we couldn’t agree on just one or two. So, we ordered three. 

Canaletto, Holland AmericaSautéed Veal Piccata with lemon angel hair pasta, capers and kale crisps. (It tasted better than it looked, but Mr. Jones would never get past all that kale.)

Roasted Pork Loin SaltimboccaRoasted Pork Loin Saltimbocca, with seared escarole, cannellini beans, and marsala glace. (Although our test menu had this same description, as you can see, the dish contained something red not listed – tomatoes? Or, red peppers? This was a miss our night during the “test” menu phase.)

White Sea Bass, Canaletto, Holland AmericaGrill Lemon-Thyme White Sea Bass, with roasted fingerling potatoes, shaved fennel, and orange-olive salad. (This was the favorite entree of the group, although the fish was a little overcooked.)

Trio of TiramisuFor dessert, we shared the Trio of Tiramisu with espresso, lemon and amaretto.

This was way too much food for three people. However, after sampling all of these dishes, the three of us still would not have agreed on what to order if we cut our choices down. If returning, I’d probably focus on the small plates and a pasta, and depending on the group, either skip the large plates or only order one.

While the food quality on this new Canaletto menu is a step above the prior menu, the restaurant’s ambience remains a challenge.

For Mr. Jones and me, if we are paying an extra charge for a specialty restaurant, then we think the atmosphere and the service should be a notch above the main dining room.

Unfortunately, the new menu at the Cannaletto doesn’t change the fact that the restaurant is a part of the Lido buffet restaurant, or that it appears to be staffed by the Lido restaurant servers.

By 9:30 pm, our 8:30 reservation group was being hurried; by 9:45 pm, the staff was sweeping the floors directly around us, and reminding us that they needed to still reset our table for breakfast the next morning.

Not exactly a leisurely Italian meal.

It was a test menu. Now that the new menu has been adopted fleet-wide for awhile, I’m confident that some of the challenges have been solved.

Plus, if you are dining in the Canaletto via the complimentary Explore 4 promotion, or as a gift from your travel agent, it should be a nice change of pace.

Have you tried the new Canaletto menu? What did you like about it? What would you avoid? We look forward to your comments below. 

Check out these other posts involving food and beverages on cruise ships:

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