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 [Read more…]

News: “Frozen Fever” Sweet Treats at Disneyland and Disney World

So… Frozen Fun ends in Disneyland on May 15th, and Frozen Summer Fun LIVE won’t return to Disney’s Hollywood Studios until June 17th. That’s one full Frozen-free month… What’s an Anna, Elsa, Kristoff and Olaf fan to do?!?

What will we do when there's no Frozen Fun?!

What will we do when there’s no Frozen Fun?!

Fret not, Frozen fans! In the downtime between the two events, Disney is releasing a few treats in honor of “Frozen Fever,” the film short that can currently be seen on the big screen prior to showings of the live-action “Cinderella” film.

As in the film short, these treats go about the task of celebrating Anna’s birthday… and what’s a birthday celebration without a little cake? Anna’s Happy Birthday Cupcake is a vanilla cupcake with blue buttercream frosting, topped with marshmallows, snowflake candies, and a white chocolate Olaf.

Anna's Happy Birthday Cupcake

Anna’s Happy Birthday Cupcake ©Disney

At Disneyland, you’ll want to check spots like the Jolly Holiday Bakery, Market House, Pacific Wharf Cafe, Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe, and The Coffee House.

Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe

Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe

While the cupcakes are already available at Disneyland, starting April 8th, Disney World guests can check various eateries scattered across property, in parks and resorts alike. Altogether, twelve restaurants will carry the cupcakes in WDW, including Main Street Bakery and Gaston’s Tavern in the Magic Kingdom, Starring Rolls Cafe and ABC Commissary in Hollywood Studios, and Sunshine Seasons and Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe in Epcot.

Resort restaurants  that will carry the cupcake include BoardWalk Bakery, Beach Club Marketplace, Contempo Cafe, Gasparilla Island Grill, Landscape of Flavors and The Mara.

BoardWalk Bakery

BoardWalk Bakery

Looking for something a little more frozen to celebrate the cast of Frozen? Olaf’s Perfect Sundae Day features birthday-cake flavored ice cream topped with hot fudge, mint marshmallows, brownie pieces (!), whipped cream, and sprinkles.

Olaf's Perfect Sundae Day ©Disney

Olaf’s Perfect Sundae Day ©Disney

Those mint marshmallows look a lot like the ones currently available to enjoy with your Warm Hugs Hot White Hot Cocoa over at Olaf’s Snow Fest in Disneyland!

At Disneyland, the Sundae is available at Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor and Clarabelle’s.

Clarabelle's in Disney California Adventure

Clarabelle’s in Disney California Adventure

 

And again, starting April 8th, Disney World guests will find it at the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor, Hollywood Scoops, and Beaches & Cream.

Beaches and Cream at Disney's Beach Club Resort

Beaches and Cream at Disney’s Beach Club Resort

In a new twist, even a few Table Service restaurants are [Read more…]

What’s New Around Walt Disney World: March 26th, 2015

I’m not sure what it feels like in your neck of the woods, but the calendar says it’s officially SPRING! And the season is ON at Walt Disney World, with new food items to help feed those spring break crowds (did somebody say “Grilled Cheese”?), as well as an egg-stra special Easter display at the Grand Floridian Resort.

But that’s not all! There’s much more in store… so let’s hop to it, as we take another trip around the World to see What’s New!

MAGIC KINGDOM

Be Our Guest Breakfast

Hey, has anyone heard of some little dive by the name of Be Our Guest Restaurant? ;)

Be Our Guest in the First Light of Morning

Be Our Guest in the First Light of Morning

Well, in case you didn’t know about the Advance Dining Reservations heard ‘round the World, the popular restaurant is now open for BREAKFAST! Huge hits on the all-new prix fixe menu include the Open-Face Bacon and Egg Sandwich and the Croissant Doughnut.

Open-Face Bacon and Egg Sandwich

Open-Face Bacon and Egg Sandwich

Croissant Doughnut and fresh fruit

Croissant Doughnut and fresh fruit

You can read our Opening Day Everything on the Menu review HERE!

Sweet Treat Makeovers

Not sure how long this gem will be around, but the Cinderella Coach Apple celebrating the recently released live-action “Cinderella” film sure is a beauty!

Cinderella Coach Apple

Cinderella Coach Apple

You can find it for a limited time at the Main Street Confectionery and Big Top Treats. (Keep an eye out at spots outside of Magic Kingdom like Goofy’s Candy Company and Sweet Spells, too!) A few of the Krispy Treats have joined in on the fun, as well…

Cinderella Coach Apples and Krispy Treats

Cinderella Coach Apples and Krispy Treats

Snack Location Switcheroos

Looking for your favorite Dole Whip or Citrus Swirl over in Adventureland?

Citrus Swirl at Sunshine Tree Terrace

Citrus Swirl at Sunshine Tree Terrace

Well, the homes for these beloved snacks have changed places. You see, Sunshine Tree Terrace — home of the Citrus Swirl — is now located where Aloha Isle used to be. And Aloha Isle, boasting its signature Dole Whip? It’s now located where Sunshine Tree Terrace used to be.

New Aloha Isle location

New Aloha Isle location

New Sunshine Tree Terrace location

New Sunshine Tree Terrace location

Confused? Fret not — you can read all about it here! Rumor has it that this all has something to do with a new restaurant on the horizon for Adventureland. (And what’s this we’re hearing about a possible Jungle Cruise theme?!) Time will surely tell!

Speaking of location changes… If you’re hoping to enjoy a Jumbo Turkey Leg in Magic Kingdom, they’ll be available at Cool Ship in Tomorrowland starting TODAY.

Cool Ship

Cool Ship area

Walt Disney World Turkey Leg

Walt Disney World Turkey Leg

This temporary move will allow for [Read more…]

News! 2015 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Eat to the Beat Concert Schedule Preliminary Dates

Here we goooooo, Epcot Food and Wine Festival Fans!

Food and Wine Festival Updates

We’ve got the first word on a few Eat to the Beat concert line-up listings ALREADY for 2015!

For those of you who may not know, Eat to the Beat is an Epcot concert series that takes place during the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, running this year from September 25-November 16. The series features musical acts from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 00s each year, and concerts take place throughout most evenings of the Festival.

Since this partial list is preliminary, be sure to stay tuned to the Disney Food Blog for additions and/or changes to the schedule! We will bring you all the latest news first!

Eat to the Beat concerts are performed three times per evening, so you have three chances each night to see your favorites — 5:30PM, 6:45PM, and 8:00PM!

eat-to-the-beat-logo

2015 Eat to the Beat Concert Line Up!

Note that this schedule is subject to change.

October 2-4 – Starship Featuring Mickey Thomas
October 10-11 – 38 Special
October 19-21 – Air Supply

Taking in an Eat to the Beat Concert is a great way to unwind and continue the fun of the Food and Wine Festival into the evening.

All concerts take place in the American Gardens Theater at Epcot’s America Pavilion. Concerts are free — included in the price of your Epcot admission!

Many folks plan [Read more…]

Review: Gourmet Grilled Cheese at Epcot’s Taste Track

Today, we’re grabbing lunch from a pop up seasonal spot in Epcot! And this one involves Grilled Cheese!!

You know these kiosks…often you’ll find them closed (and sometimes not even there!) if you’re lucky enough to visit during less busy times of the year.

Spaceship Earth, How We Love You

Epcot!

But since we’re smack dab in the middle of Spring Break, we’re seeing lots of extra food around the Parks to help feed the hungry crowds and minimize wait times at regular Counter Service and Table Service Locations.

Thanks to readers Daniel Wanderman and Megan McQuillan‎ for letting me know recently that we needed to get over to Epcot’s Taste Track to check out an incredible menu of Gourmet Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. I can’t wait to show you these!

Atmosphere

If you’re looking for Taste Track, hang a right as you’re facing Test Track, and head back toward Future World. If the kiosk is serving, this is where you’ll find it.

Taste Track

Taste Track

You won’t find much in the way of seating — as in tables and chairs — but there are the same highboy tables that you see scattered around World Showcase, especially during the Flower and Garden and Food and Wine Festivals.

Taste Track Tables

Tables Near Taste Track

Taste Track Tables 2

More Tables

There are also some benches shaded by umbrellas situated a short walk away. And there are a few low planters with walls that conveniently double as both benches and tables.

For a landmark to get your bearings, Cool Wash is directly behind you if you’re facing the Taste Track kiosk.

Cool Wash, Across from the Taste Track Kiosk

Cool Wash, Across from the Taste Track Kiosk

Everything on the menu sounded pretty fantastic and we were excited to sample a range of things. Let’s check out what we chose.

Eats

For such a small booth, there’s a surprisingly diverse menu offered here!

With three different Gourmet Grilled Cheese Selections, plus Soup and Salad options, this could be a stop for the whole family. There are also some fantastic Craft Beer Selections. Because Grilled Cheese and Beer.

Taste Track Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Taste Track Menu — Click to Enlarge

I thought the Kids’ Meal option of Grilled Cheese on Goldfish Honey Wheat Bread was fun, too. I tried to snap a pic from the family behind me; alas, they must have been hungry because they snatched it too quick. :-)

When it came down to it, my friend and I decided to sample all three of the “grown up” options. We began with the [Read more…]

Review: Black Forest and Apple Spice Cupcakes at Epcot’s Sunshine Seasons

It’s dessert time, and we’re heading to Epcot’s Sunshine Seasons!

Located on the ground floor of The Land Pavilion, Sunshine Seasons is one of my favorite spots for discovering delectable sweet treats. Their Strawberry Shortcake is legendary, and I recently discovered an absolute must-eat treat, the Warm Peanut Butter Brownie, while visiting here.

But Sunshine Seasons is also a best-kept secret for some of the most interesting and delicious Disney Cupcakes as well. We’ve enjoyed seasonal options like Pineapple Coconut and Guava Cream Cheese Cupcakes.

On a recent visit, I also spied two brand-new-to-me cupcakes that I just had to share with you guys! Settle in, ’cause this is gonna be good.

Sunshine Seasons at The Land pavilion in Epcot

Sunshine Seasons at The Land pavilion in Epcot

Apple Spice Cupcake

First up, I spied the Apple Spice Cupcake. At least, that’s what we’re gonna call it. And how could you not spy it from like a mile away? With that solid covering of sparkly Red Sugar, this one was stunning, and certainly stood out from the crowd. Piped Green Icing Leaves completed the pop of color, and a Pretzel Stick made a good apple stem.

But I couldn’t wait to dig in and see what was under that sugar!

Apple Spice Cupcake

Apple Spice Cupcake

As soon as I got it, I cut it in half to check out the contents (as per usual). The construction of this one is kind of interesting to me, since the frosting is applied in a dome-like fashion, rather than piped.

Beneath the sugar, that frosting turned out to be one of the very best kind — Cream Cheese! At least I THINK it was cream cheese. It had a little apply flavor to it as well! Either way, it was dense and delicious.

The cake was, predictably, Apple Spice-Flavored. But that makes it sound boring, and this was anything but. It was super moist and perfectly spiced. There were no fancy fillings, but honestly, there didn’t need to be.

Apple Spice Cupcake -- Cross Section

Apple Spice Cupcake — Cross Section

The combination of dense Cream Cheese Frosting, Moist Apple Cake, and the [Read more…]

Review: Chocolate Mousse and Chocolate and Caramel Cream in Epcot’s France

We’re already back at Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie!

And why not? With the huge assortment of classic pastries, desserts, soups, sandwiches… let me think, did I miss anything? Oh, right… quiche, salads, baguettes, macarons…. well, you’re gonna need more than a few trips to hit it all! Should you be a wee bit overwhelmed with your choices here (and who could blame you?), we’re here to help.

It’s more of the sweet stuff today, and we’re focusing on a classic as well as a dessert with a little twist.

The Mousse au Chocolat is our classic.

I don’t know if it’s my bias towards all things Les Halles, but the Chocolate Mousse here — both in appearance and flavor — strike me as a bit darker and richer than other mousse desserts I’ve tried.

Mouse au Chocolat

Mouse au Chocolat

As expected, it’s light and creamy, and you can definitely call it “airy,” though it still has a bit of substance to it.

Topped off with a sprinkling of crunchy garnish, the mousse scratches that itch for [Read more…]

Review: Tangierine Cafe in Epcot’s Morocco Pavilion

It has been too long since my last visit to Epcot’s Tangierine Cafe. (Yep, that’s spelled correctly. It’s like a play on words, right? Tangiers, Morocco — Tangierine? Get it? OK, moving on.)

My absence from this spot recently is kind of shocking, since it’s always voted some of the best and most interesting counter service food that you can get anywhere in Walt Disney World.

Located right on the promenade in the Morocco Pavilion, Tangierine Cafe offers an immersive atmosphere and good food with the ring of authenticity. Or at least, that’s always been my experience before.

Atmosphere

Tangierine Cafe is very photogenic. The whole Morocco pavilion is gorgeous, and this is no exception.

Tangierine Cafe

Tangierine Cafe

Once inside, you’ll find a cafeteria-style ordering area, and limited seating.

Ordering Counter and Seating Area

Ordering Counter and Seating Area — Notice the Beautiful Light Fixtures and Ceiling Detail

Assembling Plates

Assembling Plates

Indoor Seating Area, as Seen From the Coffee Bar at the Back

Indoor Seating Area, as Seen From the Coffee Bar at the Back

As you probably know, the construction of the Morocco Pavilion was sponsored by the government of Morocco; the design was overseen by King Hassan II himself! And so, the intricate decor and detail you see here represent design details authentic to Moroccan ideals.

Zellige tile, colored glass, and beautiful light fixtures punctuate the space and transport you to your exotic destination.

View from indoor table

View from indoor table

Seating

Seating and Stunning Tilework

Beautiful Lighting and Ceiling Detail

Beautiful Lighting and Ceiling Detail

Choose a seat inside, or enjoy lunch on the outdoor terrace that’s off to the side of the front entrance. It provides an excellent vantage for people watching.

Tangierine Cafe Terrace

Tangierine Cafe Terrace

View from Outdoor Seating

View from Outdoor Seating

There’s also a wonderful little room in the back of the space, set apart from the high-celinged main dining room. Since it’s rather hidden, sometimes you’ll find it empty. It’s a great spot to take a break from the Epcot crowds.

Small Room Off to the Side of the Coffee and Dessert Bar

Small Room Off to the Side of the Coffee and Dessert Bar

Additional outdoor seating, with umbrella-shaded tables, is available on the other side of the restaurant.

Additional Outdoor Seating on the Other Side of Tangierine Cafe

Additional Outdoor Seating on the Other Side of Tangierine Cafe

Back inside, you’ll make your selections and await your food. Beverage options include a few Moroccan beers, which are available by the bottle, in addition to standard soft drink options.

Top Cooler with Bottled Soft Drinks and Beer

Top Cooler with Bottled Soft Drinks and Beer

Some of the Beers Available

Some of the Beers Available

You’ll find another hidden gem in the back of the restaurant, near the cash register. A bar devoted to [Read more…]

Review: Victoria Sponge Cake at Yorkshire County Fish Shop in Epcot’s UK Pavilion

It’s somewhat rare that anything changes at Yorkshire County Fish Shop in Epcot’s UK Pavilion.

And I don’t mean that as a bad thing. When you’ve got a great classic like Fish & Chips as the main event, I’m of the opinion that Yorkshire County Fish Shop falls squarely under the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” category.

So when I strolled past a few weeks ago on the way to meet some friends at Rose & Crown Pub and Dining Room and noticed that the dessert option had changed to Victoria Sponge Cake filled with jam and buttercream (you can now also find whole fruit options as well), I knew I wanted to get back as soon as possible and give it a try.

Yorkshire County Fish Shop

Yorkshire County Fish Shop

Yorkshire County Fish Shop menu

Yorkshire County Fish Shop menu

Prior to the Victoria Sponge Cake, the dessert option on this limited menu was an English Bay Sugar Cookie, and before that, the common dessert option was a package of shortbread cookies for… well, for as long as I can remember. So the Victoria Sponge Cake is a definite departure from the cookies.

Unfortunately, I can’t claim to be familiar with a traditional English Victoria Sponge Cake. But I can tell you that the version you’ll receive at Epcot comes, understandably, in a “To Go” package, custom made for the search for seats at this popular stop.

Victoria Sponge Cake in package

Victoria Sponge Cake in package

Victoria Sponge Cake in package

Victoria Sponge Cake in package

Before I dug in, I wanted to give you a chance to see inside. Between [Read more…]

First Look! 2015 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival MUST-EAT Treats!

It’s HERE!! Spring has sprung and the 2015 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival has officially begun, bringing all the topiaries, musical fun, and FOOD along with it!

Epcot Flower and Garden Must Eat Treats
We’ve been spending the day taking in the sights, and — more importantly ;) — all the tastes at every single one of the Food Booths! You can see the full menus for this year’s booths here!

For the third year running, the Flower and Garden Festival is offering Outdoor Kitchens (food booths similar to the Food & Wine Festival Marketplace booths), with a springtime focus on fresh-from-the-garden flavors.

Now, we’d like to show you some of the best of this year’s best! So, grab your passport and LET’S GO!

2015 Flower and Garden Passport

2015 Flower and Garden Passport

Botanas Botanico

Botanas Botanico has made its debut! This Outdoor Kitchen is brand new to the Festival this year, featuring South American dishes, with an emphasis on Venezuelan classics. You can find it between the France and Morocco Pavilions.

Botanas Botanico

Botanas Botanico

We’ve got two standouts here that we want to let you know about right away! Cachapas con Queso is a sweet yellow corn pancake topped with Farmer’s Cheese. This just-sweet-enough dish is pleasantly rich, too.

Cachapas con Queso

Cachapas con Queso

The White Corn Arepa doesn’t disappoint, either, with the tasty braised beef providing lots of bang for the buck.

White Corn Arepa

White Corn Arepa

That said, we’re happy to say that everything at this new booth was fresh and delicious!

Quinoa “Naanwich” and Kale Salad

Head to Urban Farm Eats for the Quinoa “Naanwich,” a nice vegetarian surprise packed with flavor, thanks to the arugula pesto and sun-dried tomatoes.

Quinoa Vegetable "Naanwich" with Arugula Pesto and Oven-Dried Tomatoes

Quinoa Vegetable “Naanwich” with Arugula Pesto and Oven-Dried Tomatoes

A salad as a DFB favorite? Who woulda thunk ;) ? We were pleasantly surprised by the full range of flavors presented in the Kale Salad with the dried cherries and goat cheese, along with a nice crunch from the hearty helping of almonds.

Kale Salad with Dried Cherries, Almonds, and Goat Cheese with White Balsamic Vinaigrette

Kale Salad with Dried Cherries, Almonds, and Goat Cheese with White Balsamic Vinaigrette

We also reeeeeeally enjoyed the Crispin Blackberry Pear Cider here, finding it fresh, and fairly dry.

Crispin Blackberry Pear Cider

Crispin Blackberry Pear Cider

The Ice Pop

It was love at first sight — and taste! — with the Ice Pop cocktail-on-a-stick at Fleur de Lys! A cold and delicious mix of Grand Marnier Peach Raspberry Liqueur, Vodka, and Iced Tea — all wrapped up in a nostalgic package!

A Grown-Up Ice Pop Debuts at the Fleur de Lys Outdoor Kitchen in the France Pavilion

A Grown-Up Ice Pop Debuts at the Fleur de Lys Outdoor Kitchen in the France Pavilion

Pineapple Dog

You do NOT want to miss the Pineapple Dog at Pineapple Promenade! We’re happy to declare it as outrageously good, thanks to the [Read more…]