Review: Tutto Gusto in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion

It’s time once again to look in on one of my favorite “hidden” spots in Epcot — Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar!

Tutto Gusto, located on the left as you travel through the Italy Pavilion toward Via Napoli at the back, hasn’t been open for very long. But in the short span of three years, Tutto Gusto has become a part of the fabric of World Showcase.

With its commitment to offering small plates that feature authentic Italian cuisine, Tutto Gusto has continued to be a DFB favorite. But you know me — I’m never content to continue recommending a spot unless I know for sure that it still  deserves to be recommended!

So, in the name of research, a friend and I headed there to grab a light dinner during a recent visit to Walt Disney World. We tried some new things and revisited some favorites. Let’s check it out.

Atmosphere

Although the sign for Tutto Gusto is perched high and prominent, it’s still sort of easy to miss it if you aren’t looking for it. You may mistake it for another entrance to neighboring Tutto Italia, if you notice it at all.

Tutto Italia and Gusto Wine Cellar

Tutto Italia and Gusto Wine Cellar

The entrance sits back a little, but Cast Members are usually flanking the door, and you’ll also notice the menus posted outside. Pay attention and you’ll find it.

Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar

Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar

Walk in and (after your eyes adjust to the darkened area) you’ll notice that the bar is front and center, serving as the small venue’s main feature.

Gusto Bar

Gusto Bar

Wine is king here, but you’ll also find an increasingly interesting array of Italian craft beers. Tutto Gusto also offers a full liquor bar. Check out the Italian-inspired cocktail menu, or order your favorite. Whatever you’re looking for, they can make it.

Gusto Bar

Gusto Bar

Because this is a wine bar, however, much of the real estate is given over to vino. Amuse yourself as you wait by checking out the ever-changing variety of Italian wines that are available by the glass or bottle.

Wine Fridge

Wine Fridge

Wine Fridge

Wine Fridge

But Tutto Gusto has more to offer than just beverages. From the get go, I prized this spot for their amazing array of small plates. There’s a display of some of the offerings to whet your appetite.

Antipasti Showcase at Tutto Gusto

Antipasti Showcase at Tutto Gusto

As is usually the case when you’re dining anywhere in the Disney universe, be sure to look up! The details of a spot usually include some really cool lighting, and Gusto is no exception.

Wine Bottle Lighting

Wine Bottle Lighting

You will find that Tutto Gusto can reach capacity rather easily — hence those Cast Members stationed at the doors. There isn’t a ton of seating here, but what you do find is rustic, cozy, and fairly comfortable. It is a little “close”, however, so if you prize privacy or personal space, you may want to look at the couch options.

Gusto Table

Gusto Table

Speaking of…you’ll find more comfy seating flanking the fireplace, another nice focal point in the small space.

Gusto Fireplace Area

Gusto Fireplace Area

Tables and stools here are low and well padded. It’s a great place to relax and catch up with friends, or to just take a breather from the bright sunshine.

Fireplace Area Seating at Tutto Gusto

Fireplace Area Seating at Tutto Gusto

And it truly is a beautiful location. Personally, I think they hit the themeing out of the park. Don’t you love the brick ceiling?

Tutto Gusto Seating

Tutto Gusto Seating

Having shown you around, I’m ready to get down to the serious business of [Read more…]

Sneak Peek: Harambe Marketplace Opens in Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Late May

It’s been fairly quiet in Disney’s Animal Kingdom as of late… but all that’s about to change! Disney has provided a few glimpses of what will be the new Harambe Market, opening in late May!

Harmabe Market

Harmabe Market © Disney

Disney shares that the story behind the Market revolves around it serving as a center of commerce and place of welcome for visitors from all around the world who come to the village in order to explore the animals of Africa on the reserve.

Harambe Marektplace

Harambe Marketplace © Disney

While the marketplace will also feature merchandise spots, food will be the focus, featuring four walk-up windows serving African-inspired street food, with seating for over 200 guests. The idea is to wander and find what catches your fancy, though you may find it hard to decide…

harambe market disneys animal kingdom 11

© Disney

Kitamu Grill will be serving up Skewered Chicken as as well as a Kabob Flatbread Sandwich.

harambe market disneys animal kingdom 1

Kitamu Grill © Disney

Kabob Flatbread Sandwich

Kabob Flatbread Sandwich © Disney

Skewered Chicken

Skewered Chicken © Disney

Famous Sausages will feature sausage Corn Dogs, with the unique distinction of [Read more…]

Tips from the DFB Guide: Dining Solo in Disney World

When most people think of Walt Disney World, they automatically think of visiting with friends or family, which is lots of fun.

dfb2015_guide_3d

But there’s another way that I really love to tour Disney World. And that’s solo.

Sure. It’s always awesome to experience the magic with others…to catch their smiles, impressions, opinions. But sometimes out of necessity, and sometimes out of preference, I find myself visiting the ‘World alone.

It may sound lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. After all, what better way to take advantage of that single rider line? ;-) You can also spend as long as you want drinking in every detail of attractions and other surroundings.

But even if you’re totally OK with doing attractions by yourself, dining may feel like another matter altogether. You may be tempted to just stick with a table for one in the counter service spots.

And that’s all good, if that’s what you want. But if you’re looking to enjoy some of the great dining choices Disney has to offer, we have some terrific Tips from the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining for making this an awesome experience. And this is just one of the many unique ways of enjoying the World that we cover in the guide. There’s a chapter for everything, so be sure to check it out!

And if you find this information helpful, then be sure to pick up your copy of the Guide today for $4 off using code “2015” right here!

Dine Overlooking a Great View

There is no shortage of great Disney restaurants with equally great views! Why not choose one of them for your next solo meal?

One of my favorites is Sanaa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Request a window seat and enjoy an ever-changing view of the animals that call Sunset Savanna home.

Watch the Wildlife as You Dine at Sanaa

Watch the Wildlife as You Dine at Sanaa

And while you enjoy the live action through the window, the food incredible as well! The menu features East African and Indian-inspired dishes, and I can never pass up the opportunity to enjoy their incredible Butter Chicken.

Slow-cooked in Gravy, Simple and Well-seasoned Butter Chicken and Chicken Vindaloo

Ya Gotta Try the Butter Chicken!

Prefer serenity to scenery? Grab a table at one of Flame Tree Barbecue’s many pavilions. (Flame Tree Barbecue has been closed for refurbishment, but we expect it to re-open very soon.)

Eat at the Counter

Many Disney table service restaurants feature chef’s counters or bars where you can dine while you watch all of the exciting action of the kitchen. Sitting at these high-energy spots was a favorite tip that I received from my friend Gray at SoloFriendly.com. And if I’m choosing some of my favorite bar seating, it has to be [Read more…]

Review: Lemon with Crispy Meringue Ice Cream at L’Artisan des Glaces in Epcot’s France

We have an almost-birthday to celebrate… L’Artisan des Glaces is nearly two years old!

L’Artisan des Glaces opened in late May of 2013 and has been serving up 16 daily flavors of house made ice cream and sorbet ever since. Oh, and more than a few Cafe Glaces and Pressed Brioche and Macaron Ice Cream Sandwiches. Not to mention an Ice Cream Martini or two…

You may be dedicated to your favorite flavor or enjoy trying something new each time, such as the ever-changing seasonal macaron sandwiches.

Me? I’ve just gotta try their newest flavor whenever I’m in Epcot’s France, because they never seem to disappoint with the latest ice cream creation.

L'Artisan des Glaces in Epcot's France Pavilion

L’Artisan des Glaces in Epcot’s France Pavilion

Menu at L'Artisan des Glaces

Menu at L’Artisan des Glaces

The most recent addition of Lemon with Crispy Meringue Ice Cream presented a bit of a conundrum for me, though (even if I can never argue with an Ice Cream Mickey!).

Lemon with Crispy Meringue Ice Cream

Lemon with Crispy Meringue Ice Cream

If you’ve been reading the DFB for a while, then you probably know how much I seriously love all things lemon, so I was pretty pumped about the lemon ice cream. On the flip side, you may also know that I don’t care for [Read more…]

Photo Tour: Animal Kingdom Starbucks Design Elements

I simply can’t get over how fast this year is moving! We’ve already reached the end of April, which means in just a few weeks events like Star Wars Weekends, Magic Kingdom’s 24-Hour Day (both in May) and the return of Frozen Summer Fun this June will start to usher in the summer season at Disney World.

But that’s not all there is to look forward to! The anticipated opening for the final in-park Starbucks is this summer, too. It’s coming to Animal Kingdom at what was formerly the Creature Comforts merchandise  location. And I must say, of all the Disney Parks Starbucks (the others being Magic Kingdom’s Main Street Bakery, Epcot’s Fountain View, and Hollywood Studios’ Trolley Car Cafe), I’ve always been most curious as to how Starbucks will be themed to fit into Animal Kingdom’s Discovery Island.

Dream Builders sign

Dream Builders sign

Many of the shops and food stops in Discovery Island are decorated with brightly colored signs and murals (take Pizzafari, for instance) as opposed to the deep greens and browns we often associate with Starbucks in their typical locations. And this was definitely true when the building served as Creature Comforts — think bright orange, purple, and teal. Granted, none of the in-park locations are what you would call “typical” Starbucks, but the unique beauty of Animal Kingdom offers the potential for some truly special themeing. And now is as good a time as any to explore a little further of what we can currently see, which is the outside of the building.

You’ll notice that the vivid colors from Creature Comforts have been toned down significantly, yet there are still some unique features that you won’t see at the other Disney Parks Starbucks locations.

Animal Kingdom Future Starbucks Exterior

Animal Kingdom Future Starbucks Exterior

Check out the coffee beans playing a role in the painted patterns along this wall border.

Exterior Border artwork

Exterior Border artwork

When you consider the continents, countries, and cultures celebrated in Animal Kingdom, including [Read more…]

Great New Drinks to Enjoy at Disney World

Top Five New Drinks to Try at Walt Disney WorldWell, I guess it’s time… Florida sure had a beautiful “winter,” but as much as I’ve tried to deny it over the past few weeks, we’re back to the time of year when it’s not unusual to see the thermometer (otherwise known as my weather app) climb back up into the 90s.

One good thing about all that? It’s the perfect excuse to cool down with some cold beverages! And since we’re looking at hanging out in the heat until… oh, until the end of the 2015 Epcot Food & Wine Festival in, like, November, now is as good a time as any to check out some highly recommended sips!

So today we’re stopping at two Disney World Parks, one Resort, and Downtown Disney to check out some of the latest and greatest concoctions. We’re focusing primarily on some killer cocktails, but we’ll end with a little something for kids (and kids at heart!), too!

So grab a straw and a teeny-tiny umbrella, because we’re starting with a new vacation must-have…

Spikey Pineapple

We’ve just gotta dive in with this new gem at Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort: the Spikey Pineapple.

Spikey Pineapple

Spikey Pineapple

While most of the drink menu at the Tiki Terrace is the same as that inside Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, you can ONLY enjoy the Spikey Pineapple outside on the Tiki Terrace… and it is well worth a special visit.

Why? Because this is Pineapple Soft-Serve (Dole Whip!) served in a sippable form and spiked with Barbancourt Pango Rhum.

Spikey Pineapple menu description

Spikey Pineapple menu description

If you’re a fan of Dole Whip (and especially the rum-spiked Pineapple Soft-serve at the Epcot Food & Wine and Flower and Garden Festivals and in Animal Kingdom), or just fantastic tropical vacation drinks in general, this one is a must-try!

Tamarind Margarita

What’s a post about drinks in Disney World without mentioning one of the greatest watering holes this side of the Mississippi (and, OK, the other side, too)? Over in Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion, La Cava del Tequila sets the standard for incredible and creative margaritas served alongside high-end tequilas.

La Cava del Tequila Sign

La Cava del Tequila Sign

And while the debut last fall of the Maelstrom Margarita (created in tribute to the now-extinct Maelstrom attraction formerly housed in Mexico’s neighboring Norway Pavilion) receives a lot of well-deserved buzz, it’s the Tamarind Margarita, which debuted last summer, that really knocked our socks off in a recent visit: Ambhar Blanco Tequila, tamarind pulp, orange liquor and agave nectar with a chili powder rim.

Tamarind Margarita

Tamarind Margarita

The tamarind and agave make this one incredibly sweet — without being too sweet (I hate too sweet), thanks to the tamarind tang, and the chili powder rim provides some kick. This one well earns its place beside the beloved Avocado Margarita. And Horchata Margarita. Oh, and the Wild Passion Fruit;)

Dark & Tropical Stormy

Inside at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, though, we’re loving the Dark & Tropical Stormy: Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, fresh lime juice, Ginger Beer, and Falernum.

Dark & Tropical Stormy on the Trader Sam's menu

Dark & Tropical Stormy on the Trader Sam’s menu

It’s the unique and bold taste of the ginger beer that makes this one stand out, giving it a sweet spice while the layered pour allows the rum to have its own moment as well.

Dark & Tropical Stormy

Dark & Tropical Stormy

Another fun feature with many drinks inside the Grotto are toppers themed to the beverage. The Dark & Tropical Stormy’s is understandably windblown ;)

Dark & Tropical Stormy umbrella

Dark & Tropical Stormy umbrella

Batten down the hatches and grab one!

Raspy Old Fashioned

We’re taking a trip over to Downtown Disney for our next one and stopping at Raglan Road.

Raglan Road

Raglan Road

Understandably, lots of folks stepping into Raglan Road fancy a pint, and the [Read more…]

Review: Starbucks Evenings Menu at Disney World’s Disney Springs

It wasn’t too long ago that Starbucks didn’t exist in the Disney Universe.

But although the coffee giant’s presence in Disney Parks has caused quite a bit of heated debate, their popularity is undeniable. And recently, the company has begun piloting a new evening menu, which is meant to appeal to those who are looking for a place to gather after 4PM. Not only does the menu include a select list of Wine and Beer, but there are also Small Plates available — perfect for sharing.

I say “piloting” because the concept is only available in about 30 stores in the US, primarily in large metropolitan areas. More locations are expected to be announced.

And if you are a Starbucks and Disney lover, then you’re in luck, because the Downtown Disney Orlando West Side location is one of the stores that offer the evening menu!

I was intrigued by the whole concept of getting a glass of wine and a snack at a spot that’s normally reserved for meeting my tea and (very rarely) coffee needs. So on a recent trip to Disney World, I decided that I had to check it out.

Atmosphere

And there it is! Starbucks. Complete with a hole in its roof for a palm tree to grow through!

downtown disney west side starbucks orlando (5)

Starbucks Entrance

You walk into a familiar site — a rope set up for the typical queue. That queue is usually pretty full, too.

Queue for the ordering counter

Queue for the ordering counter

Not only is this a massive Starbucks location, but it’s also a Reserve Location, which means you can enjoy rare, small batch offerings of some of the world’s rarest beans. Definitely check it out if you’re a coffee lover. Wendy shared her experience in our full review here.

Reserve Coffee Counter

Reserve Coffee Counter

Looking for a place to sit for a spell? You have plenty of options. From communal seating, to cozy tables for two, you’re likely to find a spot, even at busy times.

Seating at the Reserve Coffee Counter

Seating at the Reserve Coffee Counter

Indoor seating

Indoor seating

Large table

Large table

Don’t you love the bench seating against this picture window? It’s one of my favorite spots.

Indoor seating

Indoor seating

Murals that look like chalk drawings depict coffee growing regions across the globe.

Mural

Mural

Be sure to stop by the interactive screen and check out the action at the Starbucks in Downtown Disney in Anaheim!

Interactive Screen

Interactive Screen

There are also really beautiful water views from the inside seating area and the shaded patio area.

Window wall

Window wall

But the outside area also has another great focal point — a “live” wall and a glassed-in fireplace.

Outdoor seating

Outdoor seating

Fireplace

Fireplace

Now that we’ve looked around a bit, let’s head back in and take a closer look at the Starbucks Evenings menu.

Eats

Wanting to sample the Evenings menu? Head to Downtown Disney West Side at 4:00PM, when service expands to include [Read more…]

DFB Challenge: The Walt Disney World Beer Crawl

Alrighty, Guys — it’s time for another fun Disney Food Blog Challenge. And this one is definitely for the grown ups!

Everyone’s aware that craft Beer has become increasingly popular. Sure, through the years, you always had the garden variety options…

Lovely Beer!

Lovely Beer!

But these days, Craft Beers and International Selections are where it’s at. So we thought that it was high time we take a closer look at some of the interesting beer that you can get throughout Walt Disney World.

In the interest of interactive fun, we decided to come up with another DFB Food — er, Beverage — Crawl, dedicated to the world of beer, and all that it encompasses.

And we know that there are LOTS of you out there who are serious about your study and research of this important subject. We are in it for the fun. ;-) So we definitely want YOUR comments below on what you think the Can’t Miss Beers of Walt Disney World are!

Because this is a rather weighty subject, we’ll spread it out over a 3 day visit. But feel free to consolidate as your tolerance level allows.

Grab some beer nuts, and let’s go!

Day One: Explore Epcot

We’ll start our 3-day Beer Crawl in the best place for sampling a wide variety of food and drink — Epcot!

When beer is the main attraction of the day, it’s a good idea to get some sustenance first thing. We love to enter Epcot via the International Gateway Entrance and start our day with a stop in Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie in the France Pavilion for a petit déjeuner of French Pastries and Coffee or Chocolat Chaud.

We especially love the Frangipane Triangles!

Frangipane -- Cross Section

Frangipane — Cross Section

If you’d like a full-on breakfast platter-type situation, head to Sunshine Seasons (although the Croissant Berry Bread Pudding gets our vote).

Fueled up and ready to go, it’s time to hit World Showcase!

Moosehead in the Canada Pavilion

We all have our traditions, and one that we love to embrace is the First Beer of the Day in Epcot. And that honor almost always goes to Moosehead as we begin our Drinking Journey around the World! Find it at the Canada Beer Stand located near the entrance to Le Cellier Steakhouse.

The beer offerings in Canada

Stroll the area, making time to check out the Totem Poles before you head to your next stop.

Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room in the UK Pavilion

With a small breakfast and your first brew under your belt, it’s time to stop for lunch and more beer in one of our favorite Epcot dining spots.

The Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room in the UK Pavilion offers a wide array of beer and cider from the British Isles. Make your advance dining reservation ahead of time for a sit down meal, or take a gamble with finding a spot in the pub (it can get pretty crowded in there). Note that you can also get beers at a counter outside the restaurant and pub.

Sampling British beers is your goal here, so we recommend the Imperial Sampler, which normally includes pours of Bass, Harp, Strongbow, Boddington’s, and Guinness.

Imperial Sampler

Alternatively, you can choose from a long list of Pub Blends, which are half-and-half mixes of some of the beer on tap. You’ll never go wrong with a Black and Tan — half Bass Ale and half Guinness.

Of course, if you have a favorite beer among those on tap, enjoy a pint of that one instead. We especially love to order a Guinness, served with its famous Shamrock Head!

Shamrock Design on Top of Guinness

And if you visit on a weekday, don’t forget to say “hello” to Carl the Bartender!

Japan

With a little lunch under your belt, it’s time to hit up the Japan Pavilion for another unique stop on your beer tour. Kirin Frozen Beer comes with a fluffy, semi-frozen head that keeps your beer cold a little longer in that warm Florida sun.

While the picture below is from Tokyo Dining, you can also get a portable version in a plastic cup at Kabuki Cafe.

Frozen Kirin Beer in Epcot's Japan

Frozen Kirin Beer in Epcot’s Japan

Take in some time listening to the drummers or checking out the [Read more…]

2015 Epcot Flower and Garden Recipe: Piggylicious Cupcake from The Smokehouse Booth

There have been lots of memorable dishes from the 2015 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival.

epcot flower and garden logo

But one that we continue to hear you rave about is a return dish from 2014 — the Piggylicious Cupcake from The Smokehouse: Barbecues and Brews Booth!

The Smokehouse: Barbecues and Brews

The Smokehouse: Barbecues and Brews

The cupcake made a BIG impression on us from the first time we tried it. And it’s definitely addictive, with that sweet salty combination of flavors.

But we all know that the trip to Disney isn’t always possible. And even if it is, the Flower and Garden Festival will wrap up in just a few weeks.

Piggylicious Bacon Cupcake From Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival

Piggylicious Bacon Cupcake From Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival

So I’m really happy to share this recipe with you today on the blog! Because once you hear about a Disney cupcake that combines bacon, cake, and maple frosting…well…there’s no way you’re NOT gonna want to make this!

Epcot Flower and Garden Recipe: Piggylicious Cupcake from The Smokehouse Booth

Piggylicious Bacon Cupcake

The Smokehouse Barbecues and Brews Outdoor Kitchen
Makes 24 Cupcakes

Ingredients:

For Cupcakes: [Read more…]

Review: Bacon and Gouda Artisan Breakfast Sandwich at Main Street Bakery Starbucks

Time to ‘fess up: I’d never tried one of the breakfast sandwiches at Main Street Bakery… or at any of the other Disney Starbucks locations.

It’s not so much that the options aren’t appealing, but I could get the same thing three minutes away from my own home at the Starbucks down the street. And about three minutes down the road from there at the next one. And about four minutes from… well, you get the idea ;).

But, no matter what your thoughts are on the availability of Starbucks at the parks, it’s here to stay. And as such, Starbucks Breakfast Sandwiches are a part of the Disney dining scene, so it’s time we grab one for review here on the DFB.

Main Street Bakery

Main Street Bakery

Participants on the Disney Dining Plan might be especially interested to know that the Breakfast Sandwiches are available on the plan as part of one Quick Service meal entitlement, which also includes your choice of beverage.

Main StreetBakery Dining Plan entitlements

Main StreetBakery Dining Plan entitlements

While I picked up my breakfast sandwich at Main Street Bakery (Magic Kingdom’s Starbucks location), the same offerings are available at the other in-park Starbucks as well: The Trolley Car Cafe at Hollywood Studios, and Epcot’s Fountain View.

Choices include a Ham and Swiss Croissant, a Bacon and Gouda Sandwich, a Sausage and Cheddar Biscuit, and a Spinach, Feta, and Cage-free Egg White Wrap.

Breakfast sandwich menu

Breakfast sandwich menu

I went with the Bacon and Gouda Artisan Breakfast Sandwich because … well, ‘cuz, bacon. Also, the roll looked most appetizing to me of the bread choices.

Since there is no [Read more…]