Specialty dining is one of cruising's greatest splurges, and Royal Caribbean's Chops Grille and Giovanni's Table are no exception. When you're in the mood to dress up and spend a little extra on a higher-quality meal and intimate dining experience, both the line's signature steakhouse and Italian trattoria are popular choices. If your taste buds are tempted by slow-braised short ribs or artisanal cheeses, but you're torn between the two, here's how we rate Royal Caribbean's Chops Grille versus Giovanni's Table.
A $39 surcharge includes "all you can eat" appetizers -- such as Caesar salad, shrimp cocktail and pan-roasted scallops -- and one meat, poultry or seafood entree, each paired with a side. (The side portions are hefty, so make sure you don't overdo the appetizers.) Dry-aged steaks and Maine lobster also are available for an additional upcharge (roughly $20). If you have room for more after dinner, dessert items include huckleberry cheesecake, cinnamon doughnuts with chocolate dipping sauce and made-to-order cookies. Gluten-free, lactose-free and vegetarian options can be made available upon request, but it's always better to let your maitre d' know of any food allergies or special diets in advance. Chops Grille is open for dinner only.
While the layout and decor vary by ship, each Chops Grille venue shares a similar vibe: A traditional steakhouse with contemporary touches, dim lighting and a dark, earthy color scheme. Since the surcharge is on the high end of Royal Caribbean's specialty restaurants, Chops Grille feels more upscale -- and reserved -- than other onboard dining venues.
Nearly every dish at Giovanni's Table is made for sharing. There's no limit when ordering or any upcharges to the $25 dinner fee. The menu -- which is mostly gluten free with a few lactose-free options -- is divided into four categories: appetizers and salads, soups, pastas (including gluten-free) and entrees. You kick off your meal with a soup and at least one appetizer or salad, ranging from baked eggplant parmigiana to a Caprese salad. Next up are the pastas, which include gnocchi and penne alla brandy. For the main course, you can choose between steak, chicken breast, veal and various seafood dishes. Satisfy your sweet tooth with desserts such as Tuscan doughnuts, tiramisu and cannolis. Giovanni's Table is also open for lunch ($10).
Giovanni's Table has an "Italian trattoria meets Nonna's kitchen" feel. Sought for its family style -- in which diners help themselves to food platters served by waiters -- the restaurant is elegant yet casual. You'll see well-groomed couples, families and friends sharing laughs and reaching over their tables for antipasti and flatbread. Decor-wise, Giovanni's Table boasts warm colors and Tuscany-inspired touches, such as paintings of the countryside and a traditional meat slicer, which restaurant staff will actually use to pare your prosciutto. Select ships also feature outdoor seating.
Royal Caribbean's Chops Grille Vs. Giovanni's Table: Bottom Line
When it comes to choosing Chops Grille versus Giovanni's Table, you can't go wrong with the "all you can eat" menus or pampered dining experience in either. If you're a meat lover and willing to splurge on the more expensive cover charge, Chops Grille offers the most options. If you follow a strict gluten-free, lactose-free or vegetarian diet, or want a more casual vibe, Giovanni's Table is the better bet.