So far we have done 1 NCL cruise on the Pearl and we ate at the Italian and Japanese Steakhouse pay for restaurants. To be honest we didn't think the food was all that good for the money. The MDR, in my opinion was better then the pay for places.
I have ate in the specialty restaurants on Carnival and Princess too. I was not impressed with any of them either. The food has always been so good in the MDR that I really don't see the need to spend the extra dollars eating elsewhere.