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Guest Review: Tony’s Town Square

Cody, who writes the fantastic Global Disney Pinvestigation Blog, is back with another guest review! This time, he visited Tony’s Town Square in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. Take it away, Cody!

Atmosphere
Entering from the Turn-Of-The-Century Main Street USA I wondered how the theme of the restaurant would fit with the theme of the surrounding street. As it turns out, my inquiries were quickly put to rest. The restaurant is themed after the restaurant from the 1955 Disney Animated Movie, the Lady and the Tramp, and after researching a bit I realized that Lady and the Tramp takes place in early 1900s. So of course the theme fits nicely with the surrounding area.

Tony's Front Patio

Welcome to Tony's

Upon arriving, we were early (like normal), and we waited for about one minute in the waiting area, which is a small lounge/living area with a small T.V. (which shows Lady and the Tramp non-stop). The waiting area wasn’t themed to Lady and the Tramp, but it represented the time period well.

Lady and the Tramp Photos and Victrola

Once our name was called, we were taken into the main dining room, which features a water fountain with Lady and the Tramp statues on the pedestal in the middle.

Lady and the Tramp Statue and Fountain

Around the dining area were many pictures and drawings of the various characters from the film. One corner was ‘devoted’ to Lady, and another corner was ‘devoted’ to the Tramp. Another area features the other animals, such as Jock, Bulldog and Dachsie.

A Photo Area Showing Cells From the Film

Another ‘wing’ of the restaurant was themed to a patio in an early 1900s town. Most of the walls were glass, and they featured giant windows that looked out on Main Street. All around the restaurant is themed rather nicely, and the decor is time period specific.

Tony's Indoor Patio and Sunroom Dining Room

Eats
The menu at Tony’s is considerably short compared to other Disney World restaurants. It featured many ‘Italian’ classics like Spaghetti with Meatballs, Chicken Parmesan, and other favorites.

Tony's Town Square Menu

We debated about getting Tomatoes and Garlic Bread, but we were told by the waitress that we got free UNLIMITED (my favorite word) dinner rolls that had butter and garlic brushed on the top and were served with Olive Oil for dipping. They were good and HOT, but one thing that was kind of disappointing was they seemed ‘premade.’ In fact, they looked identical to some freezer-to-oven dinner rolls I’ve previously purchased at the grocery store.

Rolls and Olive Oil

Onto the main course, the meal came out quickly. It might be because there weren’t many occupied tables in the restaurant, or they could have been quickly ‘heated up’ (I don’t know if it’s true, but I’ve heard that they use microwaves… lol) Editor’s Note: I cannot confirm or deny the microwave allegation. No idea whatsoever on this one! ;)

Let’s begin with what seemed to be the best meal at the table: the Shrimp Scampi. It was delicious and featured many pieces of big shrimp over linguini noodles. There was a healthy amount of food for a normal appetite after a day after the park. The price was reasonable for the amount of food received, also. Though it could have been hotter, which seemed like a common theme throughout the meal.

Shrimp Scampi with Sundried Tomatoes and Asparagus tossed in Garlic Sauce

The ‘second best’ meal at the table was the classic Spaghetti with Meatballs. It was a large portion of noodles and three humongous meatballs. The meatballs had great flavor and DID seem to be homemade, as opposed to the dinner rolls. However, the sauce seemed mediocre. Overall, it was an “OK” dish.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

The final dish we had was the Chicken Parmesan. Overall this was the least successful dish at the table. The portion was a good size and the piece of chicken was gigantic; but it seemed like it was mostly breading with a small amount of chicken, which was disappointing. There were a lot of noodles, and while they tasted good, they became cold rather quickly. There was not much sauce, so I had to ask for more.

This dish, mainly the chicken, was rather cold. It seemed a bit warm when I got it, though the plate was incredibly hot. And after a couple minutes of trying to cut the chicken (which was hard to cut), it was already cold. Overall, dare I say it, an Olive Garden Chicken Parmesan is 200% better than Tony’s, sadly.

Chicken Parmigiana

To end the meal you always have to have dessert, right? This was the best part of the whole meal, of course. We ordered the Ice Cream Bomb: a piece of round cake, which was scrumptious, topped with a small scoop of chocolate ice cream, then topped with a GIANT scoop of vanilla ice cream. All of this was coated with a layer of hard chocolate. The most disappointing part of this dessert was the chocolate coating; it seemed like that tasteless chocolate that is usually used in garnish. But overall, it was a great dessert.

Chocolate Ice Cream Bomb

This meal, in my honest opinion, was a bust for me (especially since I had a stupendous meal at Le Cellier Steakhouse the day before). Maybe it was because the chicken parm was my entree. I have heard a great deal of mixed reviews for this location, so I thought that I’d have to try for myself. When I did, I was less than impressed. I personally think that a new restaurant would be a great addition here as this is a prime location ON MAIN STREET.

Overall, ‘grading’ is a 2 of 5, sadly. I wish I could give it a higher grade, but I just can’t.

Thanks again for sharing your opinions and pics with us, Cody! To see more pics of the atmosphere and eats at Tony’s Town Square, check out my review during the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party! Other reviews written for us by GDPinvestigation include Cape May Cafe Dinner, The Grand Floridian Cafe, the ‘Ohana Breakfast with Mickey and Friends, Paradiso 37, Tutto Italia, and the Whispering Canyon Cafe breakfast.

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24 Comments

  1. Galloping Gourmand says:

    Tony’s was one of the most disappointing meals I have ever had. I last ate here three years ago and haven’t been back.

    My experience was much the same as yours. The food came out too fast and was a little too cold, leading me to believe that the food was prepared. It should take more than 5 minutes to make a chicken parm. I won’t accuse them of using microwaves, but I am certain that the food was already cooked. The pasta was also mushy as if it had spent too much time in a steamer or pot.

    The real bothersome thing was that it was my friend’s anniversary. She chose Tony’s because the MK is her favorite place in the world and she didn’t want to spend a minute of her day outside of it. Now, I understand that the idea behind making a magical moment. I really don’t expect them to do anything for free. But for crying out loud they only bought out 1 scoop of ice cream for them to share in a cone bowl that made it look like there was a lot more. If you are going to do something you should actually do something and not give a “happy anniversary” scoop of vanilla ice cream with mickey sprinkles and whipped cream. It was so weak it would have been better for them to do nothing at all. Very un-Disney.

    Wow, I hate to trash a place like this but frankly everyone should know that there are far better places to eat a short monorail or boat ride away. Even Liberty Tree or Crystal Palace. Tony’s could be a very special place, but instead it’s among the weakest of Disney’s in park dining experiences.

  2. justin says:

    Having worked at Disney in various levels, I should point out that one of my main problems with Disney restaurants in the last five years, is that ever since the Disney Dining Plans have come out, many of the more popular sit-down restaurants (with the exception of the “signature” places like California Grill and V&As) offer a much more condensed menu (2-3 appetizers, 3-5 entrees) rather than a more robust set of offerings you’d see at regular non-Disney establishments. This is done for two reasons: it’s easy to cut corners, since most guests have already paid for their meals in advance, they have no reason to really up the ante. Secondly, they can get more people through the doors on a much quicker basis. It’s unfortunate but quite true. Nowhere are these symptoms more evident than at Tony’s Town Square.

    Also, comment to the reviewer on the complaint about the dinner rolls. Another problem that I’ve seen is that Disney has really condensed their sourcing to a few select vendors and stopped making many things in-house. So you see sort of cheaper, similar offerings at a wide range of restaurants. Until about 2002, for example, there were 12 kinds of french fries served on property. Flame Tree BBQ, for example, used to make delicious fresh cut seasoned fries. The same goes for dinner rolls: Most of the WDW restaurants would make their own, so each restaurant would have a unique experience and offer guests a delicious appetizer for dinner. Alas, things have changed and Disney only serves 2-3 kinds of french fries now, and the same bland, pre-made dinner rolls at most of their restaurants (there are certainly exceptions, when justified, Ohana and Boma, for example).

    Again, the exception to all of this is the “signature” restaurants, which have kept up the quality since most of the people who eat at those establishments are big-spenders, locals and business guests, all of which generally do not pre-pay for their meals and are searching for truly fine dining experiences.

  3. Liz says:

    Justin – thanks for your comment and I have to agree with you. In the past few years the quality of food at Disney has really gone downhill. I definitely think that the Disney Dining Plan is a big reason for that. When I lived in Orlando several years ago, many locals (including myself) would frequently eat at Disney restaurants. But since the DDP came into existence, it’s been harder to get a reservation and a lot of the food choices changed. Like the dinner rolls mentioned in this article, Disney has opted to offer lower quality food in the name of faster and cheaper service.
    I know that this may just be a side effect of the recession and trying to save money in the meantime, but Disney really needs to focus on offering better food choices to its guests. Tony’s has the ability to be such a great restaurant and have a strong following in the Magic Kingdom.

  4. Michelle P. says:

    One of my biggest issues with Tony’s is the waiting area. I am very jealous that you only had to wait a minute or two before going in. Last time we ate there, we had to wait almost 30 minutes. We were standing because there wasn’t enough seating and the placement of the tv meant that only a few kids could watch the movie – ours couldn’t get near to it without sitting in the main traffic area of people being ushered into the waiting area.

  5. Tony’s Town Square is the epitome of what’s wrong with Disney World restaurants today. Bland, overpriced food. Another commenter mentioned the small menu and I hate how this and other restaurants feature these paltry offerings.

    Tony’s is one of the restaurants that I will implore people to stay away from if I hear they want to eat there. I can handle other restaurants not being somewhere I enjoy, but this place is just plain bad.

  6. I’ve always had a hit or miss experience with Tony’s. Dinner 2 years ago? Bleh… lunch 1.5 years ago? Decent. Dinner this past Sept? Surprisingly good! I thought there was a trend that it was getting better but I guess I was there on a good day. Sad that it’s in a perfect location and has such potential and they serve sub par-Olive Garden food. :(

  7. Susan says:

    Wow, I’m very surprised at all the negative comments. This is one of our favorite restaurants. The food has always been hot & wonderful. The tomato pesto is some of the best I’ve ever had. Even got the recipe and made it for friends. We love sitting outside and watching the parade. One of your 1st photos has the waiter in the center of the picture that we have had several times. He is wonderfully attentive and even brought out Mickey Mouse confetti and sprinkled it on my daughter and grandson.

    Sorry there have been bad experiences from many of you, but it has always been wonderful for us. We have had spagetti, lasagna & chicken or eggplant parm.

    Loved the service & food.

  8. Narda says:

    We had a great lunch at Tony’s last September. We didn’t have to wait long at all for our table. I had a sandwich with homemade chips and ate every single bite and had not one complaint. The dessert on the other hand was really bad. I had the pumpkin cheesecake. It tasted like a scoop of pumpkin minus the cheesecake. I was not impressed. I would still go back to Tony’s but I would do lunch again. I don’t think I would do dinner here there are too many other great options. :)

  9. Jo says:

    Cody,

    I share you thoughts. I’ve tried Tony’s several times over the years. I have many great memories of dining alfresco while watching the Main Street Electrical Parade and SpectroMagic. I’ve only had one good meal there and many mediocre to poor meals there. I haven’t been back there in awhile because of this and was really hoping to read it had changed. Keep in mind, I grew up with the best Italian food ever made by my grandma, so I might be picky.

  10. Joël says:

    We are just back from WDW and I must say Tony’s was one of the most dissapointing restaurants we ate in. Every night we sat down for dinner and Tony’s was Bad. At noon we ate at Liberty Tree and the sevice and the Quality of the food was a thousend times better and we paid about the same price. Greetings from Belgium.

  11. Sarah says:

    Justin – Thanks for the insight! In regard to the dinner rolls, I was going to say they looked like the ones my boyfriend and I were served at Mama Melrose on Saturday, with the same peppered olive oil. If I recall, Matt even said they looked like the frozen ones you get from the store. And, in retrospect, I’m of thinking of Les Chefs de France on Christmas Day last year where I believe the same bread is served with butter… and at Coral Reef back in June… Although it’s disappointing to be served manufactured bread, I’ve always had it served piping hot, and the crustiness of the outside is a nice contrast to the softness of the inside.

  12. Bridget says:

    Is Tony’s the best? Heck no. But is Tony’s the worst? Absolutely not. My family was there in December, and although I cannot for the life of me remember what I got, it was DELICIOUS. I can understand about people saying it’s bland though. I guess my family just got lucky that night. The reason my family goes there year after year actually has nothing to do with the food. We’ll often make reservations for parade times, and request the glass room. That way, we can eat and watch the parade in the beautiful room without the fuss of the crowds. It’s especially pretty during nighttime parades.

  13. Cody says:

    I’m very happy that I’m not the only one who has had this experience, or had same thoughts. As stated before, this location is a prime spot, and could have a fantastic restaurant, as it really is one of the only sit down restaurants in Magic Kingdom that has ‘many windows’. I personally think that they should get rid of Tony’s and maybe put in an ‘American-MidWest’ themed restaurant (to fit with Main Street a bit more)… Almost like Walt’s at Disneyland Paris (though im not sure what they serve/how it is…I think the theme is what I mean).

    The bread was good (in fact i really wouldn’t ‘expect’ non frozen/heatable bread, so it was fine…). The main part of my disappointment was my Chicken Parm :(

    –Cody

  14. Alison says:

    We had the same experience 3 years ago when we tried Tony’s for dinner. 2 of us had the spaghetti and meatballs and 2 of us had the NY strip steak. All 4 meals were cold, there was not enough sauce with the pasta, we were not given steak sauce, and our server was non existent so we never had the opportunity to request anything. We did order dessert but that was so unimpressive I don’t even remember what we ordered. We DID, however, enjoy the spinach and artichoke dip with Italian bread that we got as an appetizer. The restaurant itself is very nice, but for such a great location, the food and service needs a major overhaul. I agree, I would rather go to Olive Garden….heck, I’d rather go to McDonald’s.

  15. Christina says:

    The best part of Tony’s for us is the dessert. The Tiramisu and the pistacio creme brulee are “to die for”. It’s a must for us, every trip because of the dessert only. The service is pretty good too. Thanks for the review and the pictures!

  16. Alan says:

    Folks, use your DDP on Tutto Italia instead. It is real Italian food, not the cartoon food they serve at Tony’s. And it is only one meal ticket. It is such a shame that a restaurant as beautiful as Tony’s cannot produce really good food. There are so many great young chefs who could make it a great place to eat. It is as if management wants to serve poor fare. They cannot possibly think they are serving good food.

    Even Mama Melrose has many better things than Tony’s and it is buried in a back alley at the Hollywood Studio that doesn’t get the foot traffic like the Magic Kingdom.

  17. Galloping Gourmand says:

    Alan – I can understand why Disney isn’t “fixing” Tony’s. It’s always crowded due to it’s prime location and being one of the few sit down experiences in the MK. Also, when I head over to other review boards such as Allears.net the reviews are generally good to acceptable. Of the first three pages there it’s 4.25:1 in favor of Tony’s. That’s not all that different from the Unofficial Guide’s 70%. Let’s face it. 70% is still a passing grade. Boarderline, but passing. So if the masses marginally accept it Disney has no reason not to coast on it, which I understand on some level. I don’t like it… AT ALL… but I understand it.

    Soon MK will have another sit down restaurant. It looks to be a very large one. That will bringing the number of sit downs to 6 (not counting the places that are a short monorail or boat ride away). I wonder if they will have to improve it at that point. A little more competition may be just what Tony needs.

  18. AJ says:

    GG — Great points; thanks for your review, as always. I DO wonder what will happen to Tony’s once Be Our Guest comes to town, but I do think some guests are looking for non-character meals, and Tony’s and Liberty Tree Tavern are really the only ones fitting the bill. I’m hoping for a signature restaurant to be added in MK sometime soon.

    Justin and Liz — Fantastic comments. Thank you for showing an insider’s peek into the food service at WDW. I have been noticing a serious “homogenization” of the Disney moderately-priced restaurants — and bemoaning the fact. My recent trip to Disneyland just confirmed that observation — they still seem to be doing things “specialty” there.

    Michelle — It does seem like they could put more seating in the middle of the waiting area, doesn’t it? I’ve thought the same!

    Matt — Thanks for your comments. The menus really have seemed to shrink, but I’m seeing more enticing appetizers as well. I wonder if that’s a DDP out-of-pocket measure…

    Jenn — Yep, inconsistent. That’s a problem that plagues a lot of WDW restaurants, I’ve found, Tony’s included.

    Susan — Maybe I’m just ordering the wrong items! Will have to try the tomato pesto!

    Narda — We were served the pumpkin cheesecake when we were celebrating our honeymoon in WDW. I can’t really remember how I felt about it! I’ll have to go back and read my review!

    Jo — I think that patio seating while watching the parade is incredibly special — that’s why I go to Tony’s when I do. :-)

    Hi Joel! — Well, we just LOVE Liberty Tree Tavern for lunch, so no argument there! Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!

    Sarah — I’m pretty sure that’s the bread we had at Hollywood Brown Derby

    Bridget — Thanks for your comment! Good point that it’s not the best or the worst on property, by far! Would love to hear what you ordered that night! :-)

    Alison — That’s unfortunate! I’ve always heard rave reviews about the steak at Tony’s. Ah well, another victim of inconsistency!

    Christina — Thanks for the dessert suggestions!

    Alan — Thanks for your opinions! It does seem strange that some moderately-priced restaurants seem to really “get it right” while others just can’t make the grade consistently.

  19. Alan says:

    GG – I agree with all the points in your reply. I also know that attendance is down and Disney is behind expectation with revenues. But on the other hand, they have brought in people like Cat Cora, a second restaurant in the Italian pavilion, Paradiso 37, changes to Portobello, removal of MacDonalds for what seems like an interesting new place among other changes. And, I suspect some of the empty buildings on Pleasure Island will become what could be exciting new restaurants. These things point towards a desire to upgrade the food choices at WDW. But it is as if 2 + 2 doesn’t equal 4. Something does not make sense.

    AJ – It seems wrong that we have to “know” which dish we should order; like the tomato pesto or the somewhat successful shrimp dish.

  20. Jocelyn says:

    I know that there are a lot of bad reviews for Tony’s, but my husband and I ate there last year on our honeymoon and enjoyed it. Sure, the food wasn’t “real” Italian food, but we didn’t go there for that. We wanted a sit-down dinner in the Magic Kingdom, and overall we were pleased. I agree that the chicken parm isn’t the greatest; but again, we weren’t expecting awesome Italian classics. We mostly went for the location and the theming, and there are few sit-down restaurants in the Magic Kingdom to choose from (we didn’t want to shell out for Cinderella; we’d already been to the Crystal Palace; we didn’t want hamburgers at the Plaza, and Liberty Tree Tavern didn’t appeal to us). My husband’s meal was really good – I think he had short ribs with some sort of sweet potato carrot puree. We also ate at Citricos and California Grill while on our honeymoon, and those meals were exceptional and while Tony’s certainly can’t rival their dishes, it has a charm that is all its own. We experienced great service and we would try Tony’s again – although I wouldn’t order the chicken parm. :)

  21. Jeff says:

    My wife and I jokingly consider ourselves “Disney restaurant snobs” in that we tend to spend big time on our WDW meals and eat multiple times on each trip at the various Signature restaurants as well as the non-Disney owned higher end places. (Shulas, Bluezoo, etc.)
    And for the longest time we avoided Tony’s because of the type of reviews seen above.

    However, we tried it for the first time last month and we’re very surprised.
    While the food did come out a little faster than we would have liked, it was excellent throughout, from appetizer to dessert.
    Perhaps our lower expectations helped, but we had a great meal. And the atmosphere is great.
    I just wanted to add another positive review for anybody on the fence due to some of the negative review. It’s not a Signature Dining Experience. But we will certainly to return to Tony’s!

  22. My husband and I ate at Tony’s on our honeymoon in June 2001. We really enjoyed the meal and the menu. In May 2009 we were not able to fit a time to go there with our kids. When we went back for a conference at Disney in February of this year, we jumped at an open ADR. Much to our shock Tony’s did NOT live up to our memories. The menu was beyond limited (not very vegetarian friendly), the noise level huge and the food just OK. I ordered a salmon dish (did not feel like pasta and sauce that night). There must have been three entire cloves of garlic in my rice. It was beyond intense and bordered on ridiculous. TechyDad started counting his later on and took some photos of the garlic pile that he had left. I guess I should have looked around since a lot of negative reviews on Tony’s seem to be around in recent years. At least I have my magical memories of our honeymoon there. Next time, we will be skipping Tony’s to try something new.

  23. Kristine says:

    My family ate at TOny’s last August and thought it was absoloutely wonderful to get out of the heat and have a relaxing sit down dinner. My dad hates dining with characters, he feels like they are in his face while he is eating too much; therefore, we are kinda forced to eat at Tony’s or Liberty Tree Tavern. Neither one is AWESOME food but we enjoyed the atmosphere. We could watch the disney parade from the windows, and we got excellent service. I got a panini and didn’t really like it the most, but thought it was pretty good. We didn’t have any reservation for the restaurant walked in at 12:00pm and they said they could squeeze us in. We didn’t wait at all, and we were seated. We would definitely return, just don’t have expectations that it will be one of the best meals you ever had in your life.

  24. Christine says:

    This is one of my favorite Disney Resturants, Thank God for the dining plan because I don’t think I would’ve gone here without it! The steak was so tender and the spaghetti and meatballs were to die for! I can’t wait to bring my family back here!

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