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

So, it had been far too long since I’d been to Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano, and it was high time to head back.

Located in the Backlot area of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Mama’s is a hodgepodge, with all sorts of Hollywood memorabilia smooshed into an old fashioned Italian restaurant.

The food here can be inconsistent (surprise), so you never really know what you’re going to get. But my past two visits have been great, so I was excited to check it out again.

Let’s take a look at my most recent lunch here, and see where this meal falls on the Disney Restaurant Continuum. (Wait til you see the picture of the STEAK!!!)


Mama Melrose’s is, well, a little strange. At first, it appears to a typical old-fashioned family restaurant that might be found in any large city’s Little Italy section.

Dining Room View From Outside

But once you move beyond the brick facade and really start to look around at the curious surroundings, you might inquire about the backstory to clear up the confusion.

The story behind Mama Melrose’s is a little “We Made This Story to Fit the Space.” But here goes.

A young girl from Italy with stars in her eyes makes her way across the US, in hopes of finding fame and fortune in Hollywood. But during her starving artist days, she found that her cooking was more successful than her acting.

Dining Room Inside

And so, she opened a restaurant at the urging of her friends in a vacant warehouse that had previously been used to store film equipment. Nicknamed “Mama Melrose” by her patrons, she gained the fame she was looking for — but it came via her authentic Italian cooking.

Since Mama was a poor, struggling actress — and a recent immigrant to boot — the dining room is set up with what she could find to make it cozy and comfortable. Low lighting from strands of lights give it a soft glow. (And who doesn’t love those little white lights?)

And chandeliers are mismatched — sometimes, right down to the glass globes around the bulbs.

Mismatched Shades

Quirky Lighting

Wall hangings celebrate Los Angeles, Mama’s new home, and her roots in Italy.

Wall Hangings

Of course, it is an Italian restaurant, and so you’ll also see foods — dried and cured sausages, cheese, pasta, and fruits and veggies — hanging around as well.

Food Decor at Mama's

Walls also hold pictures of [Read more…]

Review: Mizner’s Lounge at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort

Today, I’m continuing my tour of Disney World’s bars and lounges with a trip to Mizner’s Lounge. Tucked into one end of the second floor at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Mizner’s takes full advantage of views to the outside as well as the atrium.

Mizner's Sign

And if you’ve ever been in the Grand’s lobby in the evening and heard some bouncy jazz, this is where it was coming from!

I’m always interested in finding out what these spots serve. You can usually find some really interesting dishes in Disney’s resort lounges that reflect the theming of the hotel. Let’s check it out.


If I were to describe the vibe of Mizner’s decor in one word, it would be relaxed elegance. Here’s a pre-reno pic!

Mizner's Lounge During the Day

Theming here is understated, but the setting is comfortable. During the day, tons of natural light floods the room, giving it an airy feel.

Mizner's Bar

Potted palms and ornate carpets hint at the Victorian theme. Rather than [Read more…]

Top 6 Disneyland Bars and Lounges

Let’s face it. Sometimes a Disney vacation can be absolutely exhausting! That’s why we like to seek out bars and lounges in which we can share fun with family and friends or relax while enjoying good food and special beverages.

Schweitzer Falls at Trader Sam’s Tiki Bar

A while back, we took a look at our Top 10 Disney World Bars and Lounges, and now it’s time to take a peek at our favorites in the Disneyland Parks and Resorts!

Here are our picks for Top Six Disneyland bars and lounges — a list that includes a little help from our Facebook Friends! Thanks for your input!

Ready to jump in? Here’s our favorite place to while away some time at the Disneyland Resort…

Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar

Trader Sam’s should be your first choice for chilling out in Disneyland!

This is due to some great bartenders, unique drinks (often served in souvenir glasses), good food, and, of course, the interactive activities here. (Careful not to sit on the sinking bar stools!)

This place is an awesome tropical retreat located at the Disneyland Hotel. Check out our Trader Sam’s Review here!

Trader Sam’s Bar

While there is indoor and outdoor seating, all of the action is inside where there is limited seating (about 50 spots); so get here early as evenings may be quite crowded.

Cove Bar

Located in Disney California Adventure, the Cove Bar (not to be mistaken for Cove Cafe on the Disney Cruise Ships or the Cove Bar at Disney World’s Contemporary Resort…) is your place to escape the long lines and hot sun while enjoying great water-side views.

View from Cove Bar

Leave the thrills behind and savor specialty drinks and craft beers. The Raspberry Rain is a memorable choice! Look for an attractive menu offering my favorite, Buffalo Wings, and Lobster Nachos.

Hearthstone Lounge

Make the Hearthstone Lounge in the Grand Californian Resort a must-do in Disneyland.

Whether you are looking for some quiet alone time or bringing along friends, this cozy fireside lounge has a lodge theme and soaring ceilings that immediately relax you. And that’s before your first drink order!

Take a seat at the bar, on a cozy sofa, or at a [Read more…]

Review: Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano

Today, it’s time to check back in on one of Disney’s more hidden eateries — Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

As I’ve observed before (and many of you have agreed), you just never know what you’re going to get when you dine at Mama Melrose’s. Sometimes it’s mundane, and sometimes it’s great — and it’s the “greats” that keep me going back for more! What will it be today? Here we go!


Not much has changed in the atmosphere department since my last trip to Mama’s. We were greeted with the same general decor that we found on previous visits: warm, cozy, inviting, and slightly bizarre.

Atmosphere in Waiting Area

…The story goes that Mama came west from Italy to make her name in Hollywood. While the actress fame didn’t pan out, she opened her “Ristorante Italiano” and gained a place in the heart of her new city that way! And so, the interior reflects the journey from Italy all the way to Hollywood. Though I feel like there’s a hearty helping of New York City’s Little Italy in there, too.

Show Kitchen

We arrived on time for our Spring Break reservation, but we had a bit of a wait before our table was ready. (Full disclosure — I asked for one of the rare window-side tables so that my photos would come out a bit better, so that might have been why the wait was longer).

While we waited, the kitchen staff were busily assembling [Read more…]

Review: California Grill

When planning meals for our October trip to Walt Disney World, I realized it had been a LONG time since we’d visited California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort! And I haven’t reported on it here on the blog for over a year, so I figured it was time to get a little updating in!

Let’s head over to the check-in desk, shall we…?


To access California Grill, guests need to head to the 2nd floor of the Contemporary Resort and visit the restaurant’s check-in desk (you can get here by elevator, or by taking the stairs/from the back of the lobby).

Once you’re checked in, you’ll be waved over to a special elevator — one used only for California Grill guests — and taken up to the restaurant itself on the 15th floor of the hotel!

Entry from Elevators

I’m always immediately impressed by the nearly 360-degree view of Walt Disney World. The gorgeous, sprawling Grand Floridian Resort in front of you; the spires of Cinderella Castle, Big Thunder mountain, and Space Mountain to your right; and the Wilderness Lodge and Epcot to your left will make it difficult for most folks to tear themselves away from the walls of windows to take a look at the menu!

When you walk in, you’ll be greeted at the podium and (likely) handed a pager. No worries; there’s lots to do while you’re waiting. Start walking toward the windows and you’ll pass the California Grill Bar and head into the lounge area.

California Grill Bar

California Grill Bar

California Grill Lounge

Here’s a tip! If you don’t have a [Read more…]

Disney California Adventure Opens Two New Restaurants July 1st!

As we previously mentioned here, two new restaurants are slated to open in Disneyland.

Mark your calendars for July 1, 2011, when two new counter-service restaurants open at Disney California Adventure. The new eateries will share a 900 seat location in Paradise Pier where they’ll serve lunch and dinner including healthy menu items.

Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta

With an on-stage kitchen, the menu will feature flatbreads, pastas and salads tossed fresh! Flatbread choices will include cheese or pepperoni for less adventurous diners. For guests that want more variety, choose a Portobello mushroom and spinach option.

Pasta lovers can twirl their forks with spaghetti and savor meatballs on the side. Try the pasta mixed with chicken in a sun-dried tomato sauce or sample the ravioli (did we mention it is a five-cheese version?) with pesto and toasted pine nuts.


Salads can be hearty too! Choose between

[Read more…]

Guest Review: Disney World’s Top of the World Lounge

Thanks to Christopher Ripley of The English Disney Blog for putting together this great review of the new Top of the World Lounge at Bay Lake Tower in Walt Disney World!

Bay Lake Tower

Top of the World Lounge is located aptly on top of the recent Disney Vacation Club (DVC) addition of the Bay Lake Tower resort. The tower and the lounge were both opened on August 4th, 2009. The lounge opens at 5pm daily for the exclusive use of DVC members staying at the tower using their DVC points. Apart from members staying in the grand villas on the sixteenth floor, all other members must access the lounge via [Read more…]

Menu Spotlight: California Grill’s Roasted Suckling Pig Flatbread

Sarah Holodick reports on a new menu item at the California Grill in Disney’s Contemporary Resort!

Matt and I went over to the California Grill for one of their famous Brick Oven Fired Flatbreads, and we spotted a Slow-roasted Suckling Pig variety had been on the menu for a little while. It’s made with Heirloom Apple Butter, Cheddar, Caramelized Onions, and “Cracklins.”

California Grill Flatbreads on Menu

We visited the restaurant’s lounge area specifically to try this flatbread. Our verdict: the flatbread was [Read more…]

Review: Storytellers Cafe at Disney’s Grand Californian Resort

Tucked into Disneyland Resort’s premier Grand Californian Resort is a restaurant eager to pay tribute to the art that made Walt Disney and the animators who followed him so critical to our lives today: storytelling.


Just as the Grand Californian is themed in the Craftsman architecture style, Storytellers Cafe boasts broad, dark wood-scapes, milky stained glass and metal cut-out decor, earthy colors, and solidly [Read more…]