Review: Tutto Italia Ristorante in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion

Nestled in Epcot’s Italy pavilion at Walt Disney World, Tutto Italia Ristorante is open for lunch and dinner. Welcome back DFB guest author Rebecca Dolan with a review!

Epcot’s Italy had long been one of our family’s favorite places to dine since we started visiting in the ‘80s. We were huge fans of the pavilion’s original restaurant L’Originale Alfredo di Roma Ristorante, and were admittedly a little crushed when we heard it was going to be closed and replaced with Tutto Italia. (Yes, this happened like seven years ago, but the wound is still fresh.)

We’ve been back to Tutto a few times since with mixed experiences, so we ventured back a few months ago to give it another go.

Atmosphere

You’ll find Tutto Italia off the Italy pavilion’s central piazza. Enter under the large black awning (that says Tutto Italia, of course). The understated lobby area is small, so be prepared to stand while waiting for a table if it’s crowded. The lobby also connects to the Tutto Gusto wine bar, which makes for a nice place to enjoy an early glass of wine if your wait is long.

Outside Tutto Italia

Outside Tutto Italia

Off the front of the building is a patio with some seating (how very Mediterranean of them) which is great for a balmy Florida evening, though probably less so for a scorching July afternoon. In fact, Tutto Italia is one of the few full-service restaurants along the world showcase to offer outside seating.

Enjoy the chance to dine full-service outside at Epcot

Enjoy the chance to dine full-service outside at Epcot

Inside, the dining room looks much like it did in this building’s previous incarnation as Alfredo’s. Murals still decorate the walls and giant crystal chandeliers hang from the ceiling, otherwise it’s lots of dark wood and booths that make the room seem small and crowded.

Inside the no-frills dining room

Inside the no-frills dining room

Eats

The menu features a number of familiar Italian classics like fried calamari, antipasto, lasagne, ravioli, and risotto. For those not into carb-loading at lunch, there are a few meat and fish entrees as well.

Appetizers

Appetizers

Pasta Entrees

Pasta Entrees

Entrees and Children's Menu

Entrees and Children’s Menu

Each meal starts out with a plate of pillowy focaccia bread plus olive oil for dipping and whole green olives for munching. I’m a big fan of the olive oil here, which always seems to be more fruity and flavorful than what I can get in the store.

Focaccia and olives to eat while you look over the menu

Focaccia and olives to eat while you look over the menu

I also took this opportunity to order the “tropical blend” iced tea. I’m not sure how Italian that really is, but I’m a sucker for flavored iced teas and this fruity brew did not disappoint. A glass of sangria, however, had a little too much of some alcohol in the mix, which kept its fruitiness from coming out. We kept trying to ask exactly what was in it to no avail.

Being an Italian family, we can never visit Tutto Italia (or any Italian restaurant for that matter) without ordering the antipasto platter. The version here came piled with cured meats, cheeses, farro salad, artichoke hearts, eggplant caponata, marinated mushrooms, and sweet peppers. It was easily enough to feed four, and could be shared by more depending on your appetites.

The grande antipasto misto

The grande antipasto misto

We also ordered the Fior de Latte mozzarella, which was accompanied by roasted sweet peppers. It was indeed creamy and delicious, but both, as it turned out, were components of the antipasto platter. So, it was unnecessary repetition.

Fior de Latte mozzarella with roasted peppers

Fior de Latte mozzarella with roasted peppers

After finishing our appetizers we put in our entree orders. Curiously, the orders came out less than 10 minutes after we ordered. Sure pasta isn’t exactly time intensive, but the quick turn around made us wonder how much of the meal was pre-prepared. That might have accounted for the fact that much of it was cold. So, you may want to take a bite before your server walks away.

I went for the spaghetti, which came topped with beef and veal meatballs and pomodoro sauce. I rarely order spaghetti and meatballs out since they almost always fail to live up to expectations. And, while this was definitely not my grandmother’s spaghetti, it was better than most restaurant versions I’ve encountered. The sauce was thick and low on chunks (there are few things I hate more than chunky sauce) and the pasta was just firm enough. The meatballs were ok, if a little dense.

Classic spaghetti and meatballs with red sauce

Classic spaghetti and meatballs with red sauce

The penne caprese, topped with tomato sauce and cubes of mozzarella, is similar to the spaghetti. The big difference (aside from the pasta shape, of course) is the sauce that’s lighter tasting and flecked with bits of cherry tomato and basil. Nothing mind blowing, but nothing to complain about.

A heaping plate of penne

A heaping plate of penne

The lasagna was pretty standard, with layers of pasta, chunky meat ragu, and creamy bechamel sauce. Carnivores will appreciate the generous amount of meat tucked between those pasta sheets, but as a cheese lover, I was disappointed that the ricotta and mozzarella cheese I’m used to weren’t there. The flavor was fine, even without the cheese, but between the too-soft pasta and too-much bechamel, the texture was mushy.

Hearty lasagna al forno

Hearty lasagna al forno

The Polenta Valsugana was a big letdown. The polenta (think Italian grits) was too thin and watery with little seasoning, and since it came out cold, the cheese on top had congealed into one lump. The meatball, again, was a bit dense, while the short ribs were fatty and the sausage was spongy.

Polenta with sausage, meatballs, and short ribs

Polenta with sausage, meatballs, and short ribs

We’d expected good things from this dish since we’ve had it (or a similar one) here in the past and it was delicious. Hopefully we just hit it on an off afternoon and the recipe hasn’t changed.

Bypassing the more common cannoli and tiramisu, we settled on the lemon ricotta cheesecake for dessert.

Dessert Menu

Dessert Menu

Since it’s made with ricotta (and maybe some mascarpone?) it’s less smooth and more dry than a typical American cheesecake, but is no less creamy. I appreciated that it was just a hint sweet, so I didn’t feel like I was going to collapse into a sugar coma afterward. And, extra points for a crunchy graham cracker crust — there’s nothing worse than a crust that’s gone soft.

Ending things on a sweet note

Ending things on a sweet note

Overall

Had this been my first trip to Tutto Italia, I probably would have given it a solid “meh” and moved on to other Epcot options. But, like I noted before, we’ve had good meals here too, though mostly at dinner. So, while inconsistent, I know it has potential.

My guess is that this is a restaurant that’s at its best during a busy dinner service, rather than on an afternoon when it’s only partially full. The constant turning out of dishes during a busy meal may help to keep the food fresh and warm, whereas components of ours may have been sitting waiting to be ordered due to slower demand.

If you’re an Italian food fan, give Tutto Italia a chance. But try not to go in with exceptionally high expectations, just in case. As for me, the jury is still out.

What’s your thoughts on Tutto Italia? Do you have a favorite dish? Share in the comments below!

Comments

  1. Frank says

    Love the antipasto platter.
    I don’t think they have fettuccini Alfredo anymore. I miss it.
    Frank

  2. Mike V says

    Your review is EXACTLY the reason why I am so upset that ANOTHER Italian eatery is going on the vacant spot at the Boardwalk….Meatballs ok, flavor was fine, nothing mind blowing, just as you say…”MEH”
    People, it’s Italian food, it’s the same stuff we can get at our corner restaurant in the town we live.
    Sure there may be a couple nuances but all in all its the same as the 5 others in the World area.

    As for the restaurant, I have also encountered the rushed feeling here and I think if you aren’t accustomed to some Italian personalities some may find the wait staff a little arrogant and short.

  3. Lisa says

    Thank you for the review. Pasta looks not fresh. Stuff at make home on weekday. Think I will skip it.

  4. Hannah says

    Mike V…..Thank You and I agree. I thought I was the only one that thought there were too many Italian Restaurants in WDW. Even for Disney World, the prices seem a bit high for pasta. Fun review though.

  5. Betsy says

    Sorry to say it is NOT L’Originale Alfredo di Roma Ristorante. The food then was always so good. For me this restaurant has never even rated “meh”. But the most surprising thing is that I keep expecting someone to spread a little pixie dust that will improve the food!

  6. Pat says

    I still pine for alfredo’s. It was a must on every trip–sometime we even went there more than once. We enjoyed our meal the 1st time we went but not since the first time. We really want to like it and we try it every once in a while but we are disappointed!

  7. Frank says

    In years, actually, decades past, when it was Alfredo’s, I recall there was a room where they supposedly made fresh pasta.
    Also, when it was Alfredo’s, my wife used to refer to the female staff there as the “Girls of Alfredo.” They did have an “attitude.” We definitely don’t notice that anymore.
    Mike V, the new Italian restaurant on the Boardwalk IS open.
    Frank

  8. Pat says

    A better option might be the wine bar next door. You can order most, maybe all, of the menu from the restaurant and we didn’t realize until this last trip you can build your own antipasto platter from the case at the end of the bar. We had a great selection of meats, cheeses and vegetables to choose from. It was a little pricey, but seemed fresher than the pasta that looks fresh from the microwave.

  9. Sarah says

    For what they’re charging for some of those dishes, I’d have been very upset had my food been delivered cold. I love Italian food and had considered trying this place, but I think I’ll just stick with Via Napoli next door. The prosciutto and melon pizza is to die for.

  10. George Bey says

    Sorry to hear about the cold food. That is not acceptable. I and my family (and my class when I take them) have had several excellent meals at Tutto Italia. We usually ask the wait person what they would recommend for that day and go with that and it has worked out well. In addition, I have to note that we have had some great experiences with the wait staff. A young lady from Rome was delightful and the last time a young man from Sicily helped us plan an entire vacation there (I teach in Florence every other summer) which was so much fun. So, thanks as always for the review. We will be having lunch at Tutto Italia in just a few weeks as it is our favorite place for italian food at WDW.

  11. John says

    Your review kind of encapsulates exactly the direction Disney Dining has gone in the era of the Dining Plan. Jack up the prices to convince people they are getting “value” for their credits, and then ply them with cheap ingredient options that can be prepared quickly and en mass by fungible line cooks. Why worry about creativity, freshness or daring menu construction when your guests have already pre-paid for their meal and are coming anyway ?

    Why does Disney have 5 table service Italian restaurants within a mile or two of each other ? Because pasta is CHEAP and simple Italian is something that even the pickiest mid-American family is familiar with and likes.

    I used to love Alfredo’s because they at least had a signature dish they prepared better than anyone, but the Tutto Italia menu doesn’t have a single thing on it that I can’t make an excellent version of myself in under an hour – and it wouldn’t cost me $25.00 for the whole family to dish up some fantastic homemade pasta.

    It seems more and more lately, the menus themselves say “Just be quiet, eat your mediocre meal quickly and get out because we have 8,000 other ADRs to finish by the end of the night and we’re booked solid for 6 months with people who have already paid to eat here”.

  12. Galloping Gourmond says

    Disney does a lot of things well, but Italian food has never been one of them. They range from “Oh God, no” at Tony’s Town Square to “Meh” at Tutto Italia. I was hoping that leasing the space to an outside company would help them with the problem but it apparently hasn’t been the case.

    Why can’t they seem to crack Italian? Theories, anyone?

  13. John says

    To be fair, the same outside company that runs Tutto Italia also runs Tutto Gusto, which I think is an excellent concept. The small plates, no ADR “lounge” concept seems to work very well at Disney for some reason. Perhaps because the size and simple menu lets them get a little more creative ? Who knows.

    One thing I will say in Tutto Italia’s favor – whether Alfredos or Tutto Italia, I’ve never had a bad time there. The service is always outstanding, and some of our best family memories have come from big, raucous dinners at that place. The servers are always willing to get into the fun and just make every night a blast. I have some great pics from over the years – one with a server carrying a tray of 9 empty wine bottles from the table laughing, one from the time we ordered a “Cannolo Maximus” and walked around the restaurant offering people free cannolis. Good times, regardless of whether the food is “worth it”.

    Also, the manager of Tutto Italia / Tutto Gusto (Benito) is one of the greatest people I’ve ever met at Disney – generous, attentive – a true pro !

  14. Rebecca Dolan says

    Thanks for all of the comments. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who misses Alfredo’s and thinks Tutto is hit-or-miss (to put it gently.) Has anyone tried the new Italian place on the Boardwalk. I’ve been hesitating for the reasons we all put forth!

  15. Frank says

    Rebecca, We’ve eaten at the new Trattoria al Forno twice. Both after the first of the year. I forget when they opened. The first time the food was very good. My wife had their Braised Beef Bolognese with House-made Cavatelli and I had the Linguini with Clams, Salametto Piccante, White Wine, and Olive Oil. Our server was a bit hyper. Not sure if it was her personality or under direction of management, but we really felt rushed. She spoke a mile a minute and was a bit hard to understand, just from the speed. We slowed the pace to “reasonable” and had a very enjoyable dinner. Surroundings are very pretty, but a bit loud. Second time, my wife had Slow-cooked Lamb Shank with soft Polenta. Lamb shank was good, but there was very little polenta. I had what she had the first time, the Braised Beef Bolognese. It was not good. The meat was dry, there were very few cavatelli, and little sauce. Yet again, the server, different this time, really made us feel rushed. It was the “what would you like to drink” before we were in the seats routine. My wife said she wanted a glass of wine and wanted to see the menu. He started to offer suggestions immediately. She politely asked to see the menu. We came away with a distinct notion that they were under instructions to turn tables. Now, I’m not there to spend the entire evening at my table, but I do know when I feel rushed. When we left the first time, the waiting area was jammed with people. It was about 730pm. They were going to be there awhile. Second time, we were one of the first seated for the evening, so the waiting room wasn’t that full. From now on, we’ll go next door to Flying Fish, which is one of our favorite Disney restaurants. I flat out love Flying Fish!!! Also, one night for the heck of it, we weren’t that hungry, we had pizza from the pizza window on the Boardwalk… Yuk is all I can say. Actually it’s all I want to say.
    Tutt Gusto is gorgeous inside. I love to sit in there. It is definitely pricy. Wines have gone up substantially in the recent past. As for the comment about ordering off the regular menu, it really, really depends… Seriously. Seems that if they are busy, then no, but if it is quiet, then … maybe. I’ve ordered off the regular menu and have been denied just as often.
    Of note, one can use Tables in Wonderland in Tutto Gusto too.

  16. Vi says

    This is the first time I went and we as a family of 4 thought it was horrible!!!! The food was not good :( paying so much for the food not to be good. But, they have told me that there is another place down the plasa and that its amazing. Will try that next time

  17. Lisa D says

    Alfredo’s was always my favorite dining spot at WDW. To be fair, it had its ups and downs as well, over the years. The difference being, Alfredo’s downs, were still as good as, if not better, than Tutto’s best. L’Originale Alfredo was a true dining experience, and true Italian food too. The original Alfredo’s is in Rome (where Fettuccine Alfredo was invented). There is an Alfredo’s in NYC, where my daughter & I ventured to a few years back after the WDW location closed. It too lacked the greatness of the WDW location. If we want Italian, we usually venture off property to a chain now. If we are going to eat chain-like Italian food, I’d rather pay chain prices. …and this seems to be the trend with Disney Dining.

  18. Bonnie says

    You need to try the cannoli – My family’s Italian and all of us have been to Italy and the cannoli at Tutto is the best I’ve ever had. We’re from the Boston-area, so we aren’t lacking in options here at home either! I think the food is good – nothing that blows me away, but the cannoli is why I make it a point to go back.

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