ABOARD THE REGAL PRINCESS – If I didn’t see the ocean waves outside the dining room window, I might think I was in some elegant restaurant in Italy. Instead, I am enjoying a leisurely meal at Sabatini’s, the specialty restaurant aboard the Regal Princess.
The Tuscan-inspired décor features beautiful murals, warm woods, etched glass, Roman columns and grandiose chandeliers. A large glassed case displays fresh-made pasta and a huge circular case showcases special wines.
The carpet is a pleasing combination of brown, cream, white and light blue swirls. Reminds me a bit of the ocean and of Princess Cruise Line’s logo on the ship prow. A very pleasant and quiet place to dine.
In fact, Sabatini’s might be the quietest dining spot on the ship. Located on Deck 5, Sabatini’s is a bit out of the way so that little outside noise seeps into the restaurant. Reservations are required and the cost is $25 per diner.
Since I am traveling alone, I was seated at a lovely table where I could see the sun slowly beginning to set and the sea turning a darker blue. Candlelight glowed softly in frosted glass vases on the tables.
My server quickly brought a menu and a basket of warm herb bread nicely decorated with rosemary twigs. A grape flagon of olive oil was placed next to the bread. The bread was delicious and the best I have had on the cruise.
But I had to make myself stop eating it or I wouldn’t have room for the six-course dinner offered by Sabatini’s. Diners are expected to take their time in Sabatini’s – to savor, relax and enjoy the atmosphere and the food.
The menu is long, varied and definitely Italian. I don’t have room to list all the offerings so will just share what I ordered. But I will emphasize that there are many different choices on the huge menu.
Everyone starts with an appetite enhancer – roasted tomato and bell pepper passata (thick sauce) with prosciutto, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Served with a crispy fried bread.
For appetizer, I chose the burrata – a fresh Italian buffalo milk cheese made from mozzarella and cream. It came with roasted golden beets, fava beans, mint basil vinaigrette and toasted hazelnuts. Delicious and this was only the beginning.
Next was soup or salad. My mushroom soup was very rich and creamy, filled with fresh mushrooms and served in a big bowl. A meal in itself.
Then came pasta. The risotto I ordered was the only part of the meal that I didn’t like. I usually love risotto but this was not to my taste. It was made with vialone nano rice, beets, gorgonzola dolce latte and pistachios. The beety red color didn’t look appetizing and wasn’t. I left it but I sure wasn’t going to starve.
Entrees include chicken, veal, seafood and trout. I tried the roasted pork belly and was glad I did. Very good with potatoes, spinach and roasted tomato.
I was going to pass on dessert until I saw what the couple next to me ordered. My server suggested it, too. It was a tiny sample of the four desserts on the menu. Only it wasn’t tiny.
Beautifully arranged on a serving board in small slanted glass goblets were tiramisu, fresh berries in a creamy sauce, panna cotta and the Norman Love Chocolate Journey, created especially for Princess. It was a blend of chocolate, pralines and hazelnut ice cream, sealed in milk chocolate and surrounded by crushed candied hazelnuts.
Good thing I don’t have to do anything after dinner except stroll around the upper deck, watch a bit of Movies Under the Stars and go to bed. This was certainly a sleep-inducing meal. Now I know why Sabatini’s has so many devoted fans.
Photos by Jackie Sheckler Finch