Review: Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano in Disney’s Hollywood Studios

In my opinion, Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano in Disney’s Hollywood Studios has always been hit or miss.

But on my last two visits, it was exceptional. I couldn’t wait to re-visit another year later and see if that was still the case. And, I gotta say, this place is still a hidden gem. I would, in all honestly, choose this restaurant over several signature restaurants on Disney property right now. Let’s take a look at the details.

Atmosphere

When we arrived for a late night advance dining reservation during an Extra Magic Hours night, Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano was teeming with hungry guests. You get a sense of Mama’s random story before you ever enter the doors. The Mona Lisa, wearing shades, in front of the Hollywood Sign? Yeah, I don’t get it either.

Outside Wall

Outside Wall as You Approach Mama’s

The flimsy “backstory” unfolds: Mama was once an aspiring actress who began to cook her traditional dishes for friends while she was trying to become a star. Her dreams of acting fame may have faded, but she found another route into the hearts of the masses — her cooking. And Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano was born.

Entrance

Entrance to Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano

Even if the backstory still doesn’t make any sense to me after all this time, that doesn’t mean the restaurant isn’t kind of fun to look around. It’s a mix of old world meets Hollywood…and every year that goes by means Mama’s decor becomes even more antiquated.

One of my favorite touches is the wall-o-1980s-stars. These headshots crack me up! It’s like a who’s who of the year the Studios opened. (I always have to scout out Mary Fran.)

Podium and Entrance from the Waiting Area

Podium and Entrance from the Waiting Area

Other decor elements feature kitschy goodies from Mama’s collection.

In Vino Veritas!

In Vino Veritas!

More chances to look for your favorite late 20th century actors await you at the restroom entrance. And check out this guy we saw above the doorway…

Celebrity Pictures Outside the Restrooms

Celebrity Pictures Outside the Restrooms

These little Olafs-on-a-stick are part of the Frozen promotion in Hollywood Studios! Guess someone thought he’d be right at home here on a gondola?

Olaf -- This Guy is Everywhere

Olaf — This Guy is Everywhere

Walk through the large arch and past the kitchen, and the restaurant opens before you. Be sure to peek at the pizza oven as you walk by!

Show Kitchen

Show Kitchen

Once you’re in the dining area, pause to take a look around. The walls are covered with some fun stuff, including tons of albums. That’s right, kids — [Read more…]

Review: The Hollywood Brown Derby at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

The Hollywood Brown Derby at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a little gem in the middle of a busy theme park.

When it was time to meet up with friends recently for a quiet dinner during our otherwise frenzied Epcot Food and Wine Festival trip to Disney World, I was happy when we all agreed to head there for a late night bite. While the restaurant can be a bit inconsistent (I tend to hear both good and bad reviews of this place), I’ve had good experiences on my visits.

I hoped that it would continue to measure up to the pedestal I have it on! Let’s head into that fabled dining room, home to Hollywood’s Golden Age elite, and see if it does…

Atmosphere

If you haven’t had a meal at The Brown Derby, it’s time to head on over. I waited a long time before I took in my first meal there, and once I did, I was sorry I hadn’t tried it sooner.

Your journey back in time to the Golden Age of Hollywood begins before you enter the restaurant. The grand entrance beneath the classic red awning looks like something right out of early 20th century Hollywood.

Brown Derby Entryway and Awning

And that is, of course, intentional. The Brown Derby at Disney’s Hollywood Studios was inspired by the restaurant located at the famous corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street.

Sign Outside of Building

Inside the waiting area, the decor is tasteful and clean Spanish Mission, with light walls and dark wood accents. A few comfy leather club chairs might be available for your wait if you’re lucky.

You also start to glimpse the famous collection of caricatures that line walls throughout the restaurant.

Brown Derby Lobby

If you need [Read more…]