One of Norwegian Cruise Line’s signature restaurants is La Cucina which serves up delicious Italian fare. La Cucina on Norwegian Escape is located on the Waterfront giving you the option of dining in the main restaurant or al fresco for some ocean views.
Open nightly for dinner from 5:30pm to 10:00pm, La Cucina on Norwegian Escape is priced a la carte. You can also opt to use a meal from your specialty dining package (if purchased) and consume as many starters and entrees as you want. We purchased the specialty dining plan for 6 nights of our cruise and certainly put it to good use during our dinner at La Cucina on Norwegian Escape.
A View of La Cucina On Norwegian Escape from the Promenade
Restaurant Review: La Cucina On Norwegian Escape
We dined at La Cucina on Norwegian Escape on the fifth night of our cruise. By then, we had tried a few different venues, including one of the main dining rooms for dinner. For the most part, we had found the food at the specialty venues to be somewhat better than the complimentary restaurants. Would the trend continue at La Cucina?
Not really the “freestyle” type of cruisers, we pre-booked all of our dinner reservations prior to our cruise. Arriving at the restaurant a few minutes late for our reservation, it was surprisingly quiet, and the inside dining room was relatively empty.
Inside La Cucina On Norwegian Escape
Not having dined on the Waterfront yet, we asked to be seated outside, and our hostess was happy to accommodate us. There are two small areas with tables on the Waterfront at La Cucina. We sat in the outer section that hugs the walking path around the entire Waterfront. Aside from the Princess complaining that the wind was blowing her hair around, it was a beautiful night to enjoy a multi-course meal with ocean views.
Waterfront of La Cucina
Our waitress approached the table promptly to welcome us to the restaurant. Such prompt and friendly service was not always the case in some of the other dining venues, but to be fair, some of the other restaurants we visited were much busier than La Cucina on Norwegian Escape. Being sure to put our Ultimate Beverage Package to good use, we both started with a cocktail.
Not long after our waitress left with our drink order, an assistant waiter came by with some ice water and bread with dipping oil. This place was already starting to earn bonus points. It was difficult to not fill up on this warm, crusty Italian bread, but I tried to pace myself knowing there was more great food to come.
Specialty cocktails are limited at most restaurants to just a few options, but of course, all restaurants have a complete bar for you to order your favorite libations. The Princess tried one of the specialty drinks, the Viva Sicilia, which was similar to a red wine sangria. Not really feeling the other specialty option, I went with a sidecar, which was perfectly composed.
Viva Sicilia and Sidecar Cocktails
Dinner at La Cucina on Norwegian Escape
With drinks now in hand, it was time to make some decisions on what to order from the expansive menu. For those not using a Specialty Dining plan, costs for the different selections vary. Most appetizers, soups, and salads are between $3 and $5, pasta dishes around $9.00, entrees ranging from $13 to $25, and dessert costing about $4. As you can see, the tab can add up quickly that is why we definitely recommend purchasing a dining package if you plan to dine in at least a few specialty restaurants during your cruise.
For starters, the wife ordered the Caprese salad with tomato and mozzarella. It was definitely a solid portion for a starter, and we both concurred that it was very flavorful.
Mozzarella Di Bufala Caprese
I went with the fried calamari. Being a seafood fan, I was impressed with this selection. It was definitely fresh and came with a slightly spicy marinara sauce which was a nice compliment. It was the perfect size for a starter, especially when ordering both a pasta dish and an entree. If you enjoy calamari, then you must order this appetizer at La Cucina on Norwegian Escape.
Fritto Di Calamari Con Salsa Marinara
Throughout our meal, both our waitress and assistant waiter checked in on us regularly, refilling water, asking us about our meals, and clearing plates in a timely manner. They were by far the best restaurant servers we had all cruise.
Pacing for the courses was also well timed, so not long after our starters were finished, our pasta dishes were delivered. I did the seafood pasta which had a mix of calamari, clams, fish, and mussels. All of the seafood was cooked well, and the light, sweet sauce was worthy of some bread dipping as well.
While I did not try the Princess’ pasta dish, she gave the Tortelloni two thumbs up. The cheese stuffed pasta was served in a butter sauce that seemed a bit plain to me, but she enjoyed it. We were both starting to fill up already, and we still had two more courses to go!
Tortelloni Di Ricotta e Spinaci
Being a picky eater, the Princess ordered the only chicken dish on the menu, and instead of getting the potatoes that came with the meal, she asked for a side of mashed potatoes. The chicken came with three medallions wrapped in Italian prosciutto. While adding flavor, the prosciutto did make the chicken a little greasy. I found the chicken to be better than some of her other meals during the course of the week; whereas she rated it as only average.
Suprema Di Pollo Arrotolato Con Prosciutto Di San Daniele
Having already tested two seafood dishes, I wanted to try something different for my entree. La Cucina on Norwegian Escape has a variety of great classic Italian dishes from which to choose, so it was difficult to decide. Eventually, I ordered the veal Osso Bucco. This tender, fall off the bone veal shank was just as good, or better, than similar servings of this dish that I have had in fancy Italian restaurants back home. The veal was served on a bed of risotto that soaked up the natural juices. So, even though I am not a huge fan of risotto, I helped myself to at least half of this side dish.
Osso Buco Alla Milanese
By know, it was obvious that La Cucina on Norwegian Escape was the real deal, serving authentic Italian food. When reviewing the dessert menu, we had to see if the restaurant could deliver with genuine Italian desserts as well.
We are happy to report that the Princess’ Tiramisu was light, sweet, and the perfect way to end her meal. I was even more impressed with my dessert, the riccota cheesecake. An Italian-American classic, this dessert was reminiscent of my mother’s holiday desserts, right down to the consistency and hint of lemon flavor. Another home run for La Cucina on Norwegian Escape. This restaurant did not miss a beat when it came to any of our dinner choices!
Torta Di Ricotta Con Crema Al Limone
Recap of La Cucina on Norwegian Escape Restaurant Review
In our opinion, La Cucina on Norwegian Escape was some of the best service and food that we had all cruise. La Cucina would definitely be at the top of our list for specialty dining during future sailings on Norwegian Cruise Line. From the starters, to the pastas and entrees, and right down to the desserts, they are all worthy of sampling. Service was also top notch, having both a waiter and assistant waiter (which seemed to be lacking at other specialty dining venues) certainly made the dining experience more seamless and enjoyable.
Comparing the cost of our dinners to the cost of the Specialty Dining package, we came out way ahead. Adding up the four courses the Princess ordered, it would have cost a total of $34.17 (with 18% gratuity) and mine would have cost $43.61. Considering the specialty dining package ran us each $20.45 per meal (for 6 meals- the cost of each meal does vary depending on the number of meals purchased in the plan), it was well worth purchasing the package.
Portions are generous so you can share among table-mates and sample multiple offerings. In our opinion, the quality of the food was comparable to higher end Italian restaurants in cities like Boston and New York. If the weather permits, we highly recommend sitting on the Waterfront to complete this fabulous dining experience during your next Norwegian Escape cruise.
Have you dined at La Cucina on Norwegian Escape or any other ship in NCL’s fleet? What do you think of the a la carte pricing for this dining experience? Do you like the Waterfront dining option? Drop us an anchor below to give us your thoughts on the food choices and specialty dining available on this newest ship in Norwegian Cruise Line’s fleet.