PizzeRizzo is now OPEN for business in Disney’s Hollywood Studios!
This Counter Service eatery served its last pizza pie as Toy Story Pizza Planet in January of this year.
Throughout most of 2016 a HUGE makeover has been taking place, transforming this space that was once filled with visions of Little Green Men and arcade games into an establishment owned-and-operated by none other than Rizzo the Rat of Muppets fame!
Located in what is now known as the Muppets Courtyard section of the park, PizzeRizzo is at long last ready to welcome you and yours to the (literal) party! So join us for our very first visit to The Famous Original PizzeRizzo!!
Over the past several months, we’ve been able to spy plenty of outdoor details of PizzeRizzo as the transformation has taken place.
The exterior fits right in with its nearby neighbor, the Italian eatery Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano, with its abundance of brick and signage custom-made for a cityscape.
(That exposed fire escape reminds me a bit of when this building used to be part of the Streets of America section of the park.)
Aside from the name of the restaurant itself , the plentiful signage on the outside walls and windows leaves little question as to Rizzo’s specialty of the house: PIZZA!
You’ll also spy a few tributes in the area including this one, which pays homage to The Best PIZZA on the PLANET.
And there are tributes to other Muppets, too. Check out this nod to the Muppets famous heckler duo, Statler and Waldorf, on this water tower advertising Heckler Tomatoes. (Those guys are THE BEST!!!)
Even with that, though, don’t expect to find Kermit the Frog himself here yelling, “Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s the MUPPET SHOW!” Rather, you’re meant to feel as though you’ve strolled into Rizzo’s family-run business… which has been “Giving YOU The Business Since 1908.”
Let’s step inside and you’ll see what I mean…
Okay, so… maybe the HUGE updated ordering area doesn’t exactly imply “small business” . But it’s the touches you’ll spy all over the restaurant that bring the story to life.
For instance, Papa Rizzo’s original apron is hung on the wall among photographs showcasing a family’s journey from Italy to New York City.
Clearly, they’re pulling for the home team, the City Rats!
If you’d like to try to earn a spot on the Pizza Eating Contest Wall of Fame, it looks like you’ll be facing some pretty stiff competition from the likes of Big Mean Carl, Animal, Gorgon Heap, and Carla the Big Mean Mom. But don’t lose hope! There’s still one spot left on this plaque!
And let’s not forget take a look at the very first dollar ever made at PizzeRizzo!
There is even a souvenir window displaying PizzeRizzo mugs, t-shirts, hats, and such. By the way, these are just props — you won’t find any of these items for sale.
Not yet, anyway!
Downstairs, the overall decor of the seating area resembles what you’ll find in a classic Italian pizzeria, featuring lots of red, black, and white tile and simple tables and chairs.
(One of my instagram followers said it looked like a school cafeteria! ;-D)
And speaking of seating, there is plenty of it, both inside and extending outside.
No matter where you sit, though, be sure to pick up after yourself!
Further seating is available, but the decor changes a little.
The main upstairs area also offers lots of tables and chairs (as well as booth seating), but the walls are themed more to New York City with more signs, records, and pictures lining the bricks.
None of them made me smile more, though, than the 18th Street Station sign that used to be on a Streets of America stairwell made to look like it was leading down into an underground Subway station!
The W and D here are a tribute to Walt Disney. This sign was always one of my favorite touches in the area, so I’m glad it found a new home.
PizzeRizzo’s even boasts a V.I.P. Booth! It’s surrounded by Hollywood Brown Derby-style caricatures, and this is where you’ll start to notice more of the Muppets influence, with likenesses of Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, the Swedish Chef, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, and more surrounding the table.
If you sit here, though, just be prepared to give up your seat in case one of Rizzo’s famous friends arrives!
As you look around to select your table, you may notice a sign located just outside another large room. Before you step in, be sure to peek at all the little gags and jokes filling up the nearby message board.
This won’t be the only place in the park you’ll find a reference to Gonzo’s Royal Flush.
The nearby restrooms in Muppets Courtyard have been renovated and named the same.
Looks like PizzeRizzo’s snagged a couple of top honors!
Congrats, Rizzo! But what we’re REALLY here to see is your Deluxe Supreme Banquet Hall.
You’re stepping right into the room reserved for the wedding reception for Gil and Lill (daughter of Will and Jill, and son of Phil and Bill. Of course.).
Isn’t it fabulously hideous?!?
The party scene is set by color-changing lights and a playlist featuring the “Greatest Wedding Hits of All Time” encouraging you to shake your groove thing!
When we stopped in, “Twist and Shout” was the pick. (This differs from the rest of the restaurant where classic Italian restaurant tunes the likes of Dean Martin, Perry Como, etc. can be heard).
Once again on the second floor, seating extends outside.
You’ll likely never find Rizzo himself up here, though, what with his fear of heights, and all.
I’d love to stay and take in the view…
But it’s time to get back inside and grab ourselves a bite to eat!
Now, before we get into what’s on the menu, here’s a little bit of info to put your mind at ease. You needn’t have one worry about the association of rats with your food here.
As Rizzo himself assured us in Muppets in Space, he’s “never carried the plague, not even once!” Whew! With THAT out of the way, let’s take a look at the menu!
We got a glimpse of the menu late last month, so we were already aware that options would be… well, a LOT like they used to be when the spot operated as Pizza Planet . Entree choices include personal-sized Pizzas available in Vegetable, Pepperoni, Meat Lovers, and Cheese and each are served with a side Caesar Salad. Other entree options are a Meatball Sub and an Antipasto Salad.
(These menu “boards” absolutely remind me of the A&S Pizza across from my apartment building in New York City!!! I love them! And I saw those menu boards A. LOT. way back then.)
Kids’ Meals are also, of course, available. Desserts include a couple of Italian classics: Cannoli and Tiramisu.
Oddly, the most interesting section of the menu is probably the Beverage section, which features a non-alcoholic Peach Bellini guests of all ages can enjoy. Adults can select the Wildberry-Basil Limoncello Lemonade or a selection from the beer and wine options.
Let’s start with our drinks! We just had to try those new signatures. The non-alcoholic Peach Bellini is on the left, and the Wildberry-Basil Limoncello Lemonade is on the right.
Again, the Peach Bellini contains no alcohol. I think it’s fun to have a mocktail to enjoy, especially if you’re sitting in the fancy Banquet Room at the wedding reception.
Better still, it’s tasty! This peachy drink isn’t overly sweet, making it a good option for anyone to try, no matter what age.
Only Mom and Dad, though (or anyone 21-and-over), can try the Wildberry-Basil Limoncello Lemonade.
I love limoncello in just about anything, but here the pucker is tempered with the berry flavors and very slight taste of herb for anyone who isn’t as big a lemonhead as I am .
But now we’re on to the main event, which is, if course, pizza! We grabbed a small assortment with the Pepperoni, Vegetable, and a Kids’ Cheese Pizza.
Each of the full entree pizzas is served with a small Caesar Salad.
The Vegetable Pizza is topped with mushrooms, peppers, onions, and tomatoes (Heckler’s Brand, presumably ).
No matter the toppings, though, you’ve probably already noticed something very familiar about these pies (and you can count the Meat Lovers in with this group, too).
They’re pretty much the exact same pizzas as they were when this joint ran as Pizza Planet. Which is to say, it’s typical Disney Counter Service pizza: a plentifully (as in more than its fair share) thick dough-to-topping ratio, resulting in what I like to refer to as a “pizza pillow,” instead of a good, solid, New York-style pizza.
Heck, even the advertisement for the PizzeRizzo’s Los Angeles location describes it as only “New YorkISH!”
Which, I’ll grant them, is pretty funny. Of course, you’ve long known how I feel about most Counter Service Pizza in Disney World. Honestly, the only difference I could detect from when this place was Toy Story Pizza Planet is that they use a little more Italian Seasoning here befitting the updated theme and giving them, fortunately, a little more flavor.
It’s more of the same with the Kids’ Cheese Pizza.
The difference here, of course (aside from being smaller) is that it comes in a Meal with milk, carrot sticks and GoGo Squeez Applesauce.
Dasani Water or a Minute Maid Juice Box are the other drink options, while the other side option is a packaged cookie (upon request).
Things start to look up with our other entree choice: the Antipasto Salad.
The bed of Romaine is topped with ham, salami, pepperoni, kalamata olives, chunks of mozzarella, tomatoes, and an Italian Vinaigrette. It impresses — as most Counter Service salads around Disney tend to — with its level of freshness. The cheese in there was especially yummy, and the salami and pepperoni help to make this salad a truly filling option, even for lighter fare.
It’s time for dessert! The new options here are Tiramisu and Cannoli. The Tiramisu, in particular, was a much bigger portion that I thought it would be.
Generally speaking, I’m not a huge fan of Tiramisu. But this gets a thumbs up from me due to a higher-than-standard ratio of the thick, mildly sweet layer of mascarpone cream to the ladyfingers (which are my least favorite part of a typical tiramisu).
The Cannoli, on the other hand, is just about what you’d expect.
And in the case of Cannoli, that’s a very good thing . It’s tough to beat sweet cream and chocolate chips inside a fried shell!
That said, I would like to have a brief moment to mourn the loss of the Chocolate Cappuccino Cupcake that was the main dessert option when this place was Pizza Planet. I know I’m not the only one who will miss it. Still, PizzeRizzo brings with it two solid desserts that go perfectly well with the whole old school Italian pizzeria theme.
So, there it is, friends! We’ve wrapped up our first visit to PizzeRizzo.
Okay, so, when it comes to the food at PizzeRizzo, there isn’t too much in the way of surprises. It’s your regular Counter Service pizza joint, though I have to give credit to the above par beverages along with some kudos for the desserts. Those are worth stopping in for on their own if you’d like to see PizzeRizzo to take in the atmosphere.
After all, the atmosphere was the biggest question surrounding this spot’s transformation, especially since Toy Story Pizza Planet — aside from the arcade-game aspect — seemed to fall a little flat in comparison to what it could have been when you consider the movie. And though some guests might prefer a more obvious or even over-the-top theming with regards to the Muppets characters, I really enjoyed the somewhat subtle take where you’re meant to rely on spying the details within a more authentic scene. How about you?
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Will you be dining at PizzeRizzo’s on your next trip to Hollywood Studios? Please let us know with a comment!