We recently had the chance to visit Tutto Italia during its Carnevale celebration!
This celebration in Epcot’s Italy pavilion took place from February 8th through February 16th, and featured a special menu (click on the image above) and the wearing of masks by the cast members in the restaurant.
History of the REAL Carnevale di Venezia
The famous Carnevale di Venezia happens every year in Venice, Italy, during the weeks just before lent. Mask-wearing at social events during Carnevale was first recorded in the 11th century, and soon became a customary way for noblemen and dignitaries to conduct “business” — including gambling — incognito.
The tradition has had a rocky history, being regulated and also banned several times as Venice fell in and out of the hands of many different governors. Today, the celebration is more of a tourist event than anything else, but the art of mask-making is still alive. Just head into Epcot’s Italy to see a mask artist — and his many stunning creations — from time to time.
Tutto Italia, which recently took over for Alfredo’s Ristorante (of New York City Alfredo’s fame), is a cloth-napkins kind of place. With crystal chandeliers and rich murals of the Italian countryside covering the walls, the restaurant — and its pricing — are a bit on the fancier side. (Your regular theme park-wear is fine here, however.)
You’ll enter into a lobby and seating area, where, through a window, you can watch chefs at work in a small kitchen area.
Once you’re called for your table, you’ll either be seated in a sunroom area, or in the main dining room. The light streaming in the windows of the sunroom area makes it a nice place to dine, and the opulence of the main dining room is extraordinary, so I’m pleased no matter where I’m sitting (not usual for me…the picky diner…and sitter).
Also, don’t forget, your servers are from Italy, so be sure to ask them their suggestions from the menu. They can steer you toward what’s authentic or Americanized, depending on what you’re looking for. And, during our visit, service was excellent; not too rushed, not too slow. Again, we’re picky about that sort of thing!
Although the Carnevale menu was priced reasonably, we decided to opt for a la carte choices from the menu instead. I started with a bottle of San Pellegrino Limonata, which I used to order at the Olive Garden and absolutely love (I know, I know…you loved it, too ;)), but I never buy it at the grocery store for some reason. Anyway, it felt special here!
We were also served some beautiful bread and breadsticks with olives and olive oil.
From there, we ordered the Eggplant Mozzarella, or “Melanzana Alla Parmigiana,” and the Pasta E Fagioli for appetizers. The Pasta E Fagioli was fine, but nothing to exclaim over. I think I’d sample one of the many other appetizers instead of ordering this one again. And, as for the eggplant…well…I keep ordering eggplant in restaurants in the hopes that the sauce and cheese will cover the fact that I’m actually eating eggplant. It rarely works, but, in this case, it wasn’t so bad. The eggplant was a bit bitter, but if you’re a fan of the ol’ aubergine, if you’re trying to get your kids to eat more veggies, or if you’re looking for a good vegetarian appetizer, I’d recommend this one.
For our meals proper, we each wanted to try something a bit different than the standard spaghetti. We ordered a dish Tutto is now calling “Farfalle,” which has bowtie pasta, peas, cream sauce, and prosciutto; and Gnocchi Verdi Gratinati, which is baked spinach potato gnocchi with fontina, parmesan, mozzarella, and gorgonzola cheese. The gnocchi, which is new on the menu, was the winner of our meal. We both enjoyed the Farfalle, but the pasta was slightly more al dente than we liked. The gnocchi had a strong, cheese-y taste, and we were filled up long before the plate was empty.
For dessert, we chose the classic profiteroles and a lemon cheesecake/tart with strawberries. The profiteroles were incredible — filled with vanilla bean gelato and served with the richest hot chocolate sauce I’ve had since my trip to Spain. They are highly recommended. The lemon dessert was delicious as well, and definitely the choice if you’re wanting a lighter (in feel, not necessarily in calories!) dessert.
Overall, we enjoyed Tutto Italia; but at a rather high price point (late teens to twenties for just the pasta dishes) for decent food, I’m not sure we’ll make this an “every-trip” restaurant. The service was great, and the desserts were delicious, however. This might be a good place to stop later on in the evening for dessert and a nice Italian nightcap…
Let me know your thoughts on Tutto Italia, or on the other Italian food in the Disney parks, in the comments section below. I’d love to hear what others thought.
Also, click here to see another review of Tutto Italia from our good friend Cody of the Global Disney Pinvestigation Blog!