Dinner Review: The NEW Trattoria al Forno at Disney World’s BoardWalk Inn

We’ve been waiting and the day is finally here! We have had our first dinner at the brand new Trattoria al Forno, and we’re excited to share it with you!

Trattoria Stone Medallion at the Hostess Station

Trattoria Stone Medallion at the Hostess Station

Trattoria al Forno replaces Kouzzina by Cat Cora, which closed in September after a 5-year run on the BoardWalk. While we have heard from some readers that they’ll miss the Greek restaurant, we are interested in seeing just how Disney goes forward bringing an Italian offering to this space.

It is true that there are many Italian restaurants on Disney World property — several within walking distance of Trattoria al Forno. So it will be interesting to see how this one compares.¬†Speaking of, let’s head in and explore a bit before we turn our attention to the food.

Atmosphere

We gave you the full tour of the new restaurant last week, but we’ll show you around just a little here as well. You’ll find Trattoria al Forno tucked into Disney’s BoarkWalk, right between Seashore Sweets and the BoardWalk Pizza Window.

Trattoria Entrance

Trattoria Entrance

Step inside, and rich, earthy finishes of stone and wood greet you. Directly ahead, the bank of wine coolers hints to you the large role that vino plays in the menu.

Entrata

Entrata

As was the case in the restaurant’s previous lives — before it was Kouzzina, the Mediterranean-leaning Spoodles occupied the spot — the exhibition kitchen has always been the main focus of the dining room. That continues with Trattoria al Forno.

Wide Shot of the Trattoria Kitchen

Wide Shot of the Trattoria Kitchen

And it is this detail that makes the backstory of the space a little thin. As it goes, Trattoria al Forno is a family-owned restaurant that has been on the BoardWalk for years. Originally, the family owned a boardinghouse and a restaurant, but over time, the restaurant has grown.

Kitchen

Kitchen

With its growth, it has expanded down the BoardWalk, taking in one room after another — but they all face the beautiful exhibition kitchen. Perhaps the kitchen grew, too. :-)

This is one of the most extensive “on stage” kitchens that you’ll find at Disney World. It seems that just about everything takes place in front of guests, and finishes and equipment are part of the decor. Check out the bright red meat slicer, which will be used to slice some paper-thin charcuterie a little later on in our story.

(By the way, in the background of this picture you’ll see Chef Dee Foundoukis, who arrived here to head the kitchen for Cat Cora at Kouzzina and has apparently stayed on with Trattoria al Forno. So for those who are chef-watchers at Disney World, that may be an interesting tidbit.)

Meat Slicer and Chef Dee!

Meat Slicer and Chef Dee!

But let’s get back to the theme. To convey the progression, you see slight changes throughout the space from “room” to “room.” The restaurant’s original dining room is the Cucina, a warm, casual spot that has the feel of an eat-in kitchen.

Kitchen from the Cucina, the Restaurant's First Dining Room

Kitchen from the Cucina, the Restaurant’s First Dining Room

At some point, the family must have decided to glam things up a bit and build a more upscale dining room, and the Sala de Pranzo came into being. You know you’ve arrived in the formal dining room from cues like the crystal chandeliers overhead and the large display of silver and glassware along the back wall.

Sala da Pranzo

Sala da Pranzo

Still, business continued to boom, so a living room area, the Salotto, was converted to the restaurant’s third dining room.

Seating in the Salotto

Seating in the Salotto

Finally, guests may also find themselves in the Taverna. According to the story, this secluded area represents the restaurant’s origins and still retains the feel of a cozy inn restaurant. (Guests who dined at Kouzzina will recognize this as the former “Coranation” Room, an area used for Chef’s Table dining.)

The Taverna

The Taverna

Throughout the space, the seating is comfortable, and finishes are rich and refined. There is a mismatched sense to the furnishings, but it doesn’t really intrude on your consciousness. Overall, the theme here is conveyed in subtle fashion.

Seating -- Looking Back Across the Rooms

Seating — Looking Back Across the Rooms

We had dinner at Trattoria al Forno on opening night, and the restaurant was full throughout our time there. Even at capacity, however, it never seemed loud or uncomfortable. Shocking, since the previous restaurants in this space — Kouzzina and Spoodles — were well known for sound carrying and bouncing off the walls.

A Full House on Opening Night!

A Full House on Opening Night!

Speaking of dinner, let’s get to it.

Eats

When we sat down to order at Trattoria al Forno, we found the menu to be a curious mix. Based on pricing alone, you quickly understand that [Read more…]

Guest Review: Culinary Demos at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival

It’s time to start getting excited about the 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival! Today, we’re whetting your whistle as guest reviewer @MealTrip joins us with mini-reviews from four culinary demos presented at the 2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival. Read on and learn what to expect this year at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival culinary demos.

The Culinary Demonstrations held at the Festival Welcome Center (the old Wonders of Life Pavilion), provide a great gateway for those looking into any of the extra “pay to attend” events at the Food and Wine Festival. At $12 to $15 per person, per seminar, they really are one of the best values at the festival.

Festival Center - Outside View

A representative from the winery, a chef, and an interviewer are present during the experience to talk about the wine you’re sampling, and actually prepare a version of the dish in an on-stage kitchen. In most cases, there’s also time to get a few questions from the audience answered. (Okay, again for the realists out there, there’s a much larger kitchen behind the kitchen on stage, where your food is being prepared at the same time.)

While it is recommended that you reserve a spot early (booking begins on August 13th for everyone; August 9th for Tables in Wonderland and DVC members, Golden Oak Residents, and Annual Passholders), you can also check in at the Festival Center when the park opens to see what’s still available for the day.

Demo and Seminar Check In

On to the fun stuff, a recap of a few events from the first week of the 2012 festival…

Celebrity Chef Cat Cora Culinary Demonstration

Details: Chef Cat Cora from Kouzzina – Disney’s BoardWalk Inn. Dish: Seared Shrimp with Spiced Hummus and Peppedew Relish. Wine: Brampton UnWooded Chardonnay.

We’ll start our little recap with the Iron Chef herself, Cat Cora.

Chef Cat Cora.

Chef Cora’s dish was [Read more…]