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Review: Tutto Italia in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion

Anytime that I have an opportunity to dine in Epcot’s World Showcase, I grab it!

There are so many wonderful restaurants here, and I’m always lamenting the fact that I haven’t been to one or another in a long time.

When I was in town recently for the New Fantasyland media event, I had some free time and decided that it was the perfect night to pop in to Italy to see how Tutto Italia was faring after its most recent renovation.

So after arranging my Advanced Dining Reservation for 8pm, I headed over to meet my friend for a late dinner amid the beautiful holiday decorations in World Showcase.

Tutto Italia in Epcot's Italy Pavilion

Atmosphere

Tutto Italia and the newly opened Tutto Gusto Wine Bar are situated in the back left corner of the Italy Pavilion (if you’re facing into the pavilion). The restaurant reopened after a renovation in early Summer and now features updated seating and the brand new wine bar next door.

Tutto Italia

Tutto Gusto is a new stop on your Drinking Around the World odyssey, and is definitely worth your time and dollars. You can see my initial impressions of Tutto Gusto in my review.

But on this night, we were headed into Tutto Italia. When the restaurant first reopened I was glad to see that not much had changed. The grand and formal space really feels like it could have been transported from Rome. The gorgeous murals made the cut (though I heard that they almost didn’t stay!).

Italia kept the murals!

And the crystal chandeliers continue to add elegance to the restaurant. Sometimes it’s a bit jarring to see people dressed in Mickey t-shirts amid all this finery, but I’m so glad that Disney has preserved some of the original vision of the World Showcase restaurants.

Italia Chandelier

Seating includes some tiny two tops (is it just me, or do you always kind of feel like you’re eating with the people next to you when you’re sitting at tables this close together?) as well as seating for larger groups and families.

Guests can also dine in a Sunroom or on the new outdoor patio!

Italia Table Seating and the Sunroom beyond

Here’s one of the biggest tables…this one’s for your family reunion!

Italia Large Party Seating

The biggest change to the layout of Tutto Italia is the subtraction of some of the tables and chairs, and the addition of some booths and banquettes.

Italia Booth Seating

Italia Banquette Seating

While the main dining room is a bit loud with its soaring ceilings (although carpeting does keep the din a bit lower), there is still sunroom seating available.

Italia Sunroom Seating

The new outside patio is a great spot to eat — especially on those comfy Florida days in the Spring and Fall. During colder months, they may actually enclose this spot for additional cool weather dining.

Italia Outdoor Seating

Here’s a view of the patio from the Italy pavilion promenade. Great for people-watching!

Tutto Italia Outdoor Patio

We were anxious to dig into that menu though, so let’s get started with our dinner!

Eats

As we were seated, we noticed several wine specials available.

Table Menu

Table Menu

The beverage portion of the menu offered even more choices, including one of my favorites, the Italian Margarita.

Cocktails and Drinks Menu -- Click to Enlarge

The new menu is small, but features some interesting options. We couldn’t wait to dig into a few of the new options!

Appetizer Menu -- Click to Enlarge

I did inquire about side dishes, since that’s what the menu said to do. We were informed that only green beans were available that evening. (That was a bit of a letdown.)

Entrees Menu -- Click to Enlarge

But we bounced back when the complimentary bread service was served.

The combination of soft focaccia and crispy breadsticks is a nice contrast, and the colors of the fresh olives and extra-virgin olive oil were beautiful. I’m not a big fan of olives, but my friend enjoyed them a lot.

Bread Service

Next, we shared the Prosciutto di Parma, which was accompanied by Gnocco Fritto, or fried squares of pasta. The somewhat dry, salty prosciutto was perfect, and exactly what we expected. The fried gnocco were crispy and hot, and a fun complement to the meat.

Prosciutto di Parma with Gnocco Fritto

I sampled the Minestrone Con Tubetti for my next course. This would have been pretty good…except it was served a little tepid. OK, it was cold. That was unfortunate, because the taste was decent and I was looking forward to some soup. Ya win some, ya lose some — especially at Disney where things can be pretty inconsistent.

Minestrone Con Tubetti

For my entree, I chose the Fettucine Vecchia Roma with prosciutto and Parmesan cream. (Doesn’t that sound awesome?!?)

It was creamy, indulgent, savory heaven. The sauce was velvety smooth, and I wanted to eat every bite and politely scrape the bowl. (I did not. But I wanted to.)

Fettucine Vecchia Roma

My friend chose to bypass the pasta and went for the Polenta Valsugana instead. I thought it was an excellent choice; I’d had it at the media preview and loved it.

Polenta Valsugana

The presentation for this dish was something special as well. The components for the dish arrived separately. We assumed this was to maintain the integrity of the polenta — and to highlight that beautiful fontina!

Polenta with Fontina -- Up Close

The sauce was a slow-cooked, rich concoction that was meaty with plenty of bright tomato flavors. This reminded me of the “gravy” that Italian friends talked about having for Sunday dinners.

The meatballs were enormous, and the shortrib was braised to fork-tender perfection. My friend found it incredible (yay!).

Braised Meatballs and Shortrib -- Up Close

We managed to pry ourselves away from our meals before we cleaned our plates to leave a little stomach room for something sweet.

Dessert Menu -- Click to Enlarge

I am truly mourning the loss of the profiteroles from the menu with the renovation. Those were ah-mazing. And now the dessert menu resembles more of what I expect from an Italian restaurant dessert menu — nothing much that I really want to try.

Alas, we both decided on lighter options. I chose the Raspberry No-Sugar-Added Sorbetti. I was expecting something that would be only naturally sweet, but I instead received an artificially sweetened sorbet. I wasn’t a big fan, but if you are expecting that flavor profile, then you might not mind it. It was another pretty presentation, at least.

Raspberry No-Sugar-Added Sorbetti

The dessert that piqued my friend’s interest was the Pistachio Panna Cotta.

Pistachio Panna Cotta

She adores pistachio, so while I’m not a big fan of panna cotta (what I normally think of as “milk jello”), she thought it was pretty good.

It offered a firm, smooth texture and a pleasing amount of pistachio flavor. It wasn’t too sweet other — another plus for her. And again, the presentation was really pretty.

Pistachio Panna Cotta -- Up Close

I also tried the Torta di Nocciole at the Media Event I attended. This Hazelnut Polenta Cake actually has a harder “cake,” — actually more like a rice krispie treat mouth feel, believe it or not. The flavors are nice if you’re a fan of hazelnut.

Torta di Nocciole

Overall

Our meal at Tutto Italia was perfectly pleasant. The food was decent, and we were seated immediately when we arrived. Regarding our service, it was friendly enough, but a bit slow and inattentive. We were there at the end of the evening, however.

There were a couple of missteps with the food. Normally, I would have sent the cold soup back, but with all of the other food I knew we’d be consuming, I just didn’t worry about it. And I would have liked a little more variety of side dishes than just green beans, but maybe it was just owing to the lateness of the hour. I would also love if some of the Tutto Gusto cheese plates were available at the restaurant!

Still, I would recommend Tutto Italia for the lovely surroundings and the great entrees. The fettuccine was truly wonderful, and my friend was gaga over her polenta. :-)

What have you tried at Tutto Italia since the menu update? Let us know how it went!

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14 Comments

  1. Kelly says:

    So this still doesn’t make me want to try Tutto Italia ($26 for pasta!?) but what I found interesting is the polenta. It was originally on the Tutto Gusto menu when that opened. It has since disappeared, but you can order anything from the Tutto Italia menu at Tutto Gusto, so clearly I shouldn’t have ignored that menu when it was presented to us!

  2. Dana says:

    We ate here twice during our last visit to Epcot – it was that good! We ate outside on the patio one time, and in the sunroom the other time. If you can, eat outside on the patio! It’s much quieter (no echoes), and great for people watching.

    I have a gluten allergy, and will say I was disappointed in the gluten free pasta (I ate during our first meal here). It was nothing special, and I can’t recommend it. But on our second visit I tried the salmon, which was delicious! And AJ – if you like sorbet without extra sugar, try the lemon next time. It was just the perfect balance of sweet and tart. My husband got the risotto and nutella cake both times and loved it.

  3. Carrie says:

    I miss the profiteroles too! I guess you can probably still get them over at Chefs de France, but boy was I bummed when I made a reservation at Tutto just to have them again!

  4. Michelle B. says:

    Thanks for the review. It seems pretty pricey for “decent” food and inattentive service.

  5. Beth in MI says:

    Does anyone know why Alfredo’s decided to leave the World Showcase? I ate there on my honeymoon and my husband and I loved it. At that time they still had the strolling singers and it was really cool. Alas, much has changed since then. I may try it when I go next time, but it does seem pretty pricey for pasta and $30.00 for fish.

  6. Novi says:

    No butter? I was considering going here in September, and while the price wasn’t a deal breaker… The lack of BUTTER for my bread service is.

  7. Carrie says:

    @Novi: I always just request butter at American Italian places that insist on the silly and inauthentic puddle of oil instead of butter. Never had a problem at Tutto!

  8. Lucy says:

    It’s a shame we can’t substitute the dessert for an appetizer when on the dining plan. None of those desserts appeal to me. I have a reservation for our upcoming trip and I’ll probably not order a dessert.

  9. TammieQ says:

    My husband and I ate here in November and we were less than thrilled with the service and the food. We were really looking forward to eating at Tutto Italia after reading and hearing so many good things about it.

    It was a bad experience right off the bat. Our waiter was quite irritated when I ordered the gnocchi and asked for a lighter dose of the sauce; then he got a little sarcastic when we ordered the sorbet (which we loved!) for dessert instead of what he recommended. He irritated the diners who sat at a table nearby and they proceeded to leave in annoyance after a very contentious exchange while ordering their meal. The waiter and the hostess also had a heated argument in plain sight of several dining customers.

    At first, I thought Tutto Italia had turned into a themed dining experience like Whispering Canyon Cafe or 50′s Prime Time Cafe but no….it was a just a very bizarre dining experience. We are headed back to Disney World in March but will not be dining at Tutto Italia again. I think we’ll stick with Via Napoli if we get a craving for Italian food. :)

  10. Alan says:

    People’s opinions on restaurant service and food are always so subjective. I’ve eaten here at least a dozen times and have had nothing but good to great food and good to great service. But, I don’t doubt that when I am enjoying a certain dish and the waiter who serves it, the folks at the next table may be hating both. The comments above make my point. However, here is why I love the DFB and respect the readers who comment; everyone is civil, gives their opinion and do not argue with each other. It is very rewarding to read anything on the internet that has almost zero cynicism and almost zero sarcasm.

    The prices are a little high here but that is where the food plan helps. ( Makes it a pretty good deal.)

  11. Shayne says:

    Amen to that, Alan! Kudos to AJ for building such a great online community!

    I’m very happy to see that the lasagna remains on the menu. My oldest son and I split the lasagna on our last visit (Dec. 2011), and we still talk about how good it was. The only we’ve tried that’s better is at Naples in Disneyland! Plus, it was good portion control for me and saved us some $$ since Tutto Italia is pricey if you’re not on the dining plan, and he is now over age 10 and considered a Disney adult.

    I’m sad, though, to see that they took away the appetizer we had on our last visit. I can’t remember what it was called, but you got to choose two or three items (I definitely remember mushrooms and prosciutto) that were accompanied by fresh mozzarella. It was a fantastic choice for our large group of 8 people to share.

  12. AJ says:

    Kelly — Yep! Also, I find that interesting that they offer the Tutto Italia full menu at Tutto Gusto, but not the other way around. I would have loved some Gusto cheeses as an appetizer at Italia.

    Dana — Thank you so much for sharing your experience!! I really should have gone with the lemon… ;-)

    Carrie — Sigh. It’s a tragedy that they’re gone. My husband and I are always mourning the crappy dessert menus at Italian restaurants, and now it seems this one has followed suit (at least when it comes to our tastes).

    Michelle B — Yep. It didn’t feel that way at the time, but looking back, I guess that’s kind of what it is. Still, I don’t eat pasta and cream sauce very often, so it’s kind of a highlight when I do. ;-)

    Beth in MI — Many Disney restaurants are owned by external parties, and in this case, it must have been a declining financial opportunity for the Alfredo’s folks (who also own Alfredo’s in New York and Italy). Patina Group picked it up and have been renovating the Italy pavilion ever since, adding Via Napoli and Tutto Gusto in addition to this reno. I miss the original fettucini alfredo, though, I have to say! :-)

    Novi and Carrie — I always ask for butter at Italian restaurants, too! ;-)

    Lucy — Agreed!!

    TammieQ — Thanks for sharing your experience! Service there has always been a little inconsistent. I’m sorry you had such a rotten experience. However, we love Via Napoli and have never had a problem there! Enjoy!

    Alan — I couldn’t have said it better. I’m always so grateful for the readers and commenters on DFB — everyone’s so respectful and sophisticated, even when there are disagreements.

    Shayne — I wish, wish, wish they had that Tutto Gusto cheese menu available at Italia. And thanks for the recommendation of the lasagna! I haven’t had it in ages!

  13. Max V says:

    1) Bread plate – We made the mistake of asking for a little balsamic on a plate with olive oil to dip our bread. The waiter then proceeds to fill a shallow dish with enough balsamic to pickle a whale. When we asked about this we were told that this was the “Italian way”.

    2) My wife has a lactose intolerance problem. When asked the waiter went to get the “allergy specialist” to counsel us on the menu. He suggested a roast chicken and would substitute roasted potatoes for the dish in lieu of the risotto.

    3) Others in our party ordered the gnocchi, shrimp risotto, lasagna, and another roasted chicken/risotto dish. No problem here.

    4) The entrees come out and – Dinner is served minus my wife’s chicken. The allergy specialist returns to explain that the chicken was brushed with butter in the final preparation and ask for a another selection. My wife then selects a salmon dish and the resulting dish was brought out within 30 seconds. HMMMM….. the dish took no time to prepare? The server asks “Who’s the allergy problem” Wow, what a way to treat your customers.

    5) The roasted chicken was completely dry – a supermarket rotisserie would have been 1000% better, the accompanying risotto was partially uncooked. And the 30 second salmon was way overcooked as well. The lasagna was about as good as a supermarket frozen fare. The Gnocchi was partially uncooked, al dente as it was later explained to us. The shrimp risotto dish was marginally acceptable but only came with 4 shrimp – not huge prawns, four 20 count shrimp on a bed of acceptably cooked risotto.

    6) The response to our critique of the dishes was met with a condescending attitude by the maitre d’ that we don’t understand “real” italian cooking. Therefore we asked to talk to the chef then. We were told this is not possible. They did remove two of our dishes from the bill and we left without a tip.

    In my opinion, the kitchen operation involves nothing more than heating up food prepared hours before. I seriously doubt any any dishes are cooked to order. Is that worth $30 and up per entree?

  14. Marguerite zago says:

    Not accomdating to disabled children. Very rude. Would not allow a child clearly disabled a little older then 9 a kids menu. It would have great they angered our friends daughter love italian food and never patronize this restaurant again. I will also inform friends of this

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