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Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano

Tucked into the back of Disney’s Hollywood Studios is Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano, an Italian restaurant with a very special theme.

Mama Melrose Sign

Atmosphere
What is the theme, you ask? “Where Italy meets California in the heart of the Backlot,” of course. What does that mean? Well… most of us don’t really know or understand what it means… but here’s the general backstory: Mama Melrose moved from Italy to Hollywood to pursue acting, but was persuaded by friends to open a restaurant instead. (At least, this is one of the stories I’ve heard.)

So the kitschy “Italian home-cooking” restaurant — which would be at home in New York City’s Little Italy with its checked tablecloths, mis-matched furniture, and pizza oven — is (strangely) augmented by scads of Hollywood memorabilia from Mama’s collection.

Mama Melrose Inside

Mama Melrose Memorabilia

The pros of my experiences at Mama’s include the atmosphere (I like trying to figure out exactly what’s going on with the decor each time I visit), the food (occasionally), and the option of the Fantasmic Dinner Package, which includes dinner and reserved seating at Fantasmic, Disney Hollywood Studio’s nighttime show. The service at Mama’s is usually its downfall — more for slowness rather than skill.

I’ve had good meals here and bad meals here — it can be inconsistent, but it’s usually a decent bet and worth a try.

Eats
As I mentioned, Mama’s food can be hit or miss. When it’s good, it’s great; but when you’ve made a poor menu choice, you’ll know it. In my opinion, flatbreads and appetizers are good, Chicken alla Parmigiano is great, and everything else is “fine.” I do enjoy the cheesecake dessert, however… I highly recommend it.

But you didn’t think I’d let you get past a restaurant post without food photos did you? The following tantalizing tidbits come courtesy of James Chapman, who runs DisneyFotoBlog.com. James visited Mama’s with his little princess, Chloe, who you get to see very patiently showing off her kids’ pizza!

Mama Melrose Kids' Pizza Meal

Mama Melrose Kids' Pizza Meal

For a good starter, here’s the vegetarian Vine-ripened Tomato Flatbread with Sweet Basil Pesto and Caprino Cheese (sounds semi-healthy, doesn’t it?):

Tomato Flatbread

Tomato Flatbread

And for the salad-lovers, the Mixed Greens Salad with Dried Cherry Vinaigrette, Candied Walnuts, fresh Pear, and imported Gorgonzola Cheese:

Mixed Greens Salad

Mixed Greens Salad

Now on to the entree — for steak and potato folks like myself, here’s the Charred Sirloin Steak and Italian Roasted Potatoes with Caramelized Sweet Onions, Aged Balsamic Shallot Butter, and Chianti Wine Reduction:

Steak and Potatoes

Steak and Potatoes

Finally, once dessert rolled around the waiter caught to James’ food photo snapping, and he brought out several to take their turn in front of the camera! Here’s the honey-hazelnut and ricotta cheesecake, the Crema Limone (no sugar added lemon custard), and the Celebrate Today! Mama’s Tiramisu topped with whipped Mascarpone cheese.

Cheesecake

Cheesecake

Crema Limone

Crema Limone

Tiramisu

Tiramisu

I wonder if he got to try them all… ;-)

If those photos caught your eye, be sure to check out the dinner menu to see what other options you have!

And if you have a review of Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano, we’d love to hear it! Either post your thoughts in the comments section of this blog post, or send them along via our contact form at the top of the page.

Other Image Credits: Bart Hanlon and Wyscan via flickr.

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12 Comments

  1. Cody says:

    I have always been intrigued by Mama Melrose’s i have only been in there twice. Once as a little kid as we did teh Fantasmic Diner package, and the other just a couple yrs ago in the Backstage Magic tour.

    The first time it was eh… ok, and a couple yrs ago it was delish! So you are totally right, the food is off and on, but i have been trying to try out again since the Backstage Magic tour, but it is always full OR not open when we go to the studios.

    Great post :)

  2. AJ says:

    Cody, thanks for the reminder that you sometimes hit this restaurant for lunch on the Backstage Magic Tour. (Our group did that as well!)

    So you’re experiences have been both good and bad, too, eh?

    And I’ve also been finding that the restaurant has been getting more popular as the crowds start to find it. I can’t quite recommend it as a walk-up — you still need an ADR.

  3. Sarah says:

    We were there at the end of September/beginning of October. The bruschetta is awesome (especially if you like garlic). I had the 4 cheese flatbread but about halfway through the gorgonzola overpowered it too much for me. The Bellini was good, but not the best I’ve had. There’s a possibility that we’ll be heading back in few weeks, and I know we’ll be getting the bruschetta again! We’ll likely try another appetizer as well, and I might get a different flatbread.

  4. AJ says:

    Thanks for your comment, Sarah! I like gorgonzola, but also find that it tends to become overpowering after a while on those four-cheese flatbreads! Still order ‘em, though! ;-)

    Another good spot to try if you like bruschetta is Portobello in Downtown Disney — they have an amazing bruschetta platter!

  5. Shayne says:

    We are trying Mama Melrose’s for the first time next week! This is one of those restaurants that I’ve always known was there but that we never seem to make it to.

    I had never actually seen it before our last trip in June (we don’t spend a lot of time at the Studios). But we happened past it on our way back from the Backlot Tour and it smelled wonderful. Unfortunately for us, it was packed and we couldn’t get in for lunch without an ADR. So, we decided to try it this time instead of Tutto Italia for my husband’s pre-marathon carbo loading.

    Looking forward to it, but thanks for the warning about the spotty service — slow service drives me crazy, but now that I’ve been forewarned I’ll likely be a bit more patient!

  6. AJ says:

    Shayne: Pre-marathon carbo loading sounds like fun to me! We’re not the most patient with slow service either, so I understand your pain. I never like feeling rushed, either, so I’m pretty much impossible to please ;-)

  7. Gray says:

    It’s funny I’ve never given thought to the incongruity of this Italian restaurant in DHS until I read your opening paragraph. Good point; what IS that all about?

    I really enjoyed my meal there back in ’05. In fact, I wrote in my trip notes that it was my “favorite meal of the trip” (despite the fact that I did feel a little uncomfortable since I was the only solo diner; I think all the families were doing the Fantasmic Dinner Package). I liked the Italian music playing in the background and the little twinkly lights everywhere. My waiter rocked. He was very efficient. I had the Charred Sirloin Steak over roasted red pepper polenta, grilled asparagus, with gorgonzola butter and red wine reduction–Oh. My. God. Was it GOOD. I also had a great cocktail called the Italian surfer that had Amaretto, Malibu Rum, and assorted fruit juices. Delish. I’d go back in a heartbeat.

  8. AJ says:

    My mouth is watering just hearing about your meal, Gray! No more talk like that once we start the diet in 2010!!

  9. aaron says:

    i’ll tell ya, what i liked best about Mama Melrose’s is the “legends of disney’s hollywood studios” celebrity photos in the waiting area, (i’ll tell ya, some of the people in that collection might surprise you,

  10. AJ says:

    Thanks Aaron! I’ll have to check those out sometime soon. I can’t say I remember looking through them. Probably because I was too busy being focused on the meal I was about to have!

  11. Samantha says:

    Does anyone know if they still have the Goat Cheese-filled Ravioli? because those were soo good and i want them again when i go in december

  12. JoAnn says:

    Samatha – a lot of restaurants recently made menu changes. I don’t see the goat cheese filled ravioli. That does sound good. Here is the menu from the Disney site.

    http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/media/wdw_nextgen/CoreCatalog/WaltDisneyWorld/en_us/Media/InternetMediaType/Dining/MamaMelroseRistorante/mama-melroses-ristorante-italiano-menu-lunch.pdf

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