Tips From the DFB Guide: Secret, Must-Have Orders That Aren’t On Any Menu…

OK, here’s where it gets good.


I love showing you guys pictures of what you can get at Disney restaurants. It’s the best way for you to judge for yourself whether or not you think a restaurant is right for you.

But sometimes I just gotta share a few secrets that I’ve discovered. Things that aren’t actually ON the menu, exactly, but that are truly worth getting and trying.

And today, I’m sharing another great tip from the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World DiningOrdering “Off the Menu” Items in Walt Disney World Restaurants.

And if you like what you see here, there are a lot more where these came from! To see our whole list of must-have “off the menu” items for 2015, pick up your copy of the Guide today for $4 off using code 2015 right here!

Spicy Tomato Butter at Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano

Recently, we’ve been enjoying some truly incredible meals at Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano. This quirky eatery in Disney’s Hollywood Studios has plenty of traditional Italian fare on offer, but they can also surprise with a creative twist or two.

Strip Steak

Mama Melrose Makes an Incredible Steak and Mac and Cheese Combo!

During my last couple of visits, I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy their Spicy Tomato Butter! You’ll find this amazing sauce on their Oak-Fired Mussels, but if you’re not interested in ordering said Mussels, consider requesting some of the Spicy Tomato Butter with your bread.

Bread with Butters and Olive Oil

Bread with Spicy Tomato Butter and Other Accompaniments

And I’m so glad I asked the server for this “off the menu” request, because that butter is incredible! Spicy, savory, and rich, it’s delicious served with bread.

In fact, on one recent visit, the server actually brought it to me slightly melted, like a dipping sauce! Heaven.

Cranberry Sauce at Liberty Tree Tavern

Have you had the pleasure of enjoying dinner at Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom? If not, what are you waiting for?? ;-)

Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom

Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom

And if so, then you know that part of what makes it so awesome is that it looks a lot like America’s favorite meal — a Thanksgiving Day Feast!

Roast Pork, Turkey, and Beef with Cornbread Stuffing and Chutney at Liberty Tree Tavern

Roast Pork, Turkey, and Beef with Cornbread Stuffing and Chutney at Liberty Tree Tavern

But there is one key ingredient missing when they bring the family-style dishes to your table; the meal doesn’t automatically include Cranberry Sauce. And I don’t know about you, but it just isn’t Turkey Day without that little gem on the table.

Cranberry Sauce at Liberty Tree Tavern

Cranberry Sauce at Liberty Tree Tavern

But never fear — they have Cranberry Sauce — and it’s pretty fantastic! You just have to request it. It seems that not all guests love it as much as you and I, so it ended up being thrown out quite a lot of the time.

So order it with abandon if you like a little Cranberry Sauce on the side of your meal — they’re happy to bring it to you, included in the cost of the meal!

Fried Mozzarella at Via Napoli

Speaking of Liberty Tree Tavern, they used to have a wonderful Tavern Fried Cheese Appetizer that included Deep Fried Cheese Curds. They were out of this world.

Sadly, you can’t get them in the Colonial American-themed spot — but I DID find something similar at [Read more…]

Disney Food Pics of the Week: Some Favorite Fried Appetizers

It’s time for Disney Food Pics of the Week!

We’re all trying to eat better for us these days, right? But still, every once in a while, it’s fun to indulge a little! Today, we’re taking a look at some of the great photos that you’ve shared with us on Disney Food Blog Photo Extravaganza, our Flickr page, as we highlight some of our Favorite Fried Appetizers!

Pommes Frites at Cafe Orleans

Photographer: Daniel Staten

One of my top spots to eat in all of Disneyland is Cafe Orleans! And when I’m there, I can’t resist having all of my favorites — their Monte Cristo Sandwich, Mickey-Shaped Beignets — and of course, Pommes Frites with Remoulade for dipping! They’re outta this world!! (Kudos to Daniel for getting two sauces; good choice!)

Pommes Frites from Disneyland's Cafe Orleans

Pommes Frites from Disneyland’s Cafe Orleans

Fritto Misto at Via Napoli

Photographer: Tana Murphy

Whenever we are in the mood for pizza at Disney, it’s time to head to Via Napoli in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion. But they also have some amazing appetizers as well. Their Fritto Misto Platter is an assortment of Fried Cheese, Arancini, Veggies, and Calamari and is served with Pomodoro Piccante Sauce. I LOVE this platter.

Fritto Misto at Epcot's Via Napoli

Fritto Misto at Epcot’s Via Napoli

Wok Fried Green Beans at Yak and Yeti Restaurant

Photographer: Roger Weeks

Looking for something just a touch [Read more…]

Review: T-Rex at Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney

Alrighty Guys, it is time. We are heading over to Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney to travel back 200 million years for dinner.

We’ve gotta do T-Rex again.

This super-themed-to-the-max restaurant is the sister of Rainforest Cafe. If you’ve been to one, you have an idea for the feel of the other (even if the themeing is different).

I’ll confess I wasn’t looking forward to this Advance Dining Reservation with great anticipation. But every restaurant at Disney deserves a little love from me, right? ;-) After all, it’s my job. So on a recent visit, over I went to check out if my experience would be better, worse, or the same as my previous visit.

Besides, there’s a Cotton-tini involved this time! More on that just around the corner. Let’s go!


As you probably expect, there’s a whole lot going on when you walk inside T-Rex. The outside view of rock outcroppings and dinosaurs give you an idea of what you’re in for.


Outside View of T-Rex

Once your eyes adjust, you’ll notice that there are four major themed areas inside the space. The bar is themed to look like an Undersea Scene, complete with a giant, moving octopus. (What?! It’s true!) You’ll see some jellyfish floating above you too.

Under the Pre-Historic Sea

Under the Pre-Historic Sea

You may recall this area experienced a little drama last year, when one of the cylindrical aquariums started gushing water right in the middle of meal service! Fortunately, fish and diners alike were all fine. (See the video here.)

The floors throughout the restaurant are themed as well. Check out the watery undercarriage of the Undersea Scene. These are actually tiles printed like water.

Watery tiled floor

Watery tiled floor

The themeing throughout the restaurant does vary a bit. A lot actually. Beyond the sea, you have a verdant Forest Area, where you can sit in the belly of a Triceratops if you’d like. (I have asked how I can get this table. I want to sit in that Triceratops. If any of you are willing to join me on a Triceratops challenge, let me know and we’ll go and wait for this table some night!


The Triceratops Booth!

And then, there’s the Meteor Shower Room. Somehow you are simultaneously on Earth and viewing Earth. (Don’t think about it too hard.) You’ll find the star of the show here — T-Rex himself.

T-Rex Himself!

T-Rex! Ruuuuunnnnn!!!

Be forewarned — this room is very, very loud at regular intervals. Like every 10 minutes, when meteor showers rain down from the heavens.

Did I mention that it’s loud??

The Universe

The Universe on the Ceiling

Seating near the animatronic dinosaurs brings your experience to life. And for educational value, they have plaques scattered throughout the scenes that tell a little about the creatures.

Seating by the Dinosaurs

Seating by the Dinosaurs

In the Meteor Shower Room, you’ll also find the [Read more…]

Review: Via Napoli in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion

I’ve got a little secret, and it’s something you probably know if you’ve been reading the Disney Food Blog for a while. I have some serious favorites among Disney restaurants.

But when it comes time to discuss great dining spots at Epcot, the competition suddenly grows fierce. Still, relative newcomer Via Napoli has won out as tops on my list since it opened a few years ago.

There are lots of reasons for that. The restaurant boasts the best pizza in all of Walt Disney World in my opinion — it comes closest to ideal than anything I’ve tasted since I moved from NYC a few years back. (Sigh. I still miss a Lombardi’s slice now and then.)

Via Napoli Window

Via Napoli Window

And truth be told, we visit Via Napoli pretty much every time I set foot within those Big Purple Gates. But we are creatures of habit, so I try not to report TOO much on dishes that you’ve seen before. Recently though, we visited and ordered some new things! So it’s high time to share with you the story of our latest visit.


Via Napoli is a study in contrasts. From the outside, the restaurant, which anchors the back of the Italy Pavilion, is stately and grand, with an imposing, almost temple-like facade.

Via Napoli outside

Via Napoli — Outside

But inside, the space is one part grandiose, and one part whimsy, with just a sliver of chic thrown in for good measure. The feel here is that someone with a wonderfully modern aesthetic decided to open a restaurant in an ancient building. They kept the best of the old, and overlaid a feeling of modern and new.

Huge, floor-to-ceiling arched windows separate the waiting area from the dining room, and you begin to catch a glimpse of the action from here. Look up in the foyer to see this gorgeous, colorful chandelier that puts me a little in mind of Mardi Gras.

Entryway Chandelier

Entryway Chandelier

The main dining room is one huge, cavernous space (and LOUD!!!), but it’s broken up a bit by the ceiling of all things! Seriously — look up. There is a soaring atrium in the center, allowing for plenty of natural light. But you also have vaults supported by columns, which rescue the space from feeling like one large warehouse-type room.

Dining Room with Vaulted Ceilings and Arches

Dining Room with Vaulted Ceilings and Arches

The actual walls of the restaurant are covered in frescoes that have been chipped at to convey a sense of age. The blue and green backgrounds of the paintings contrast nicely with warm colors on the floor and ceiling.

Seating is mixed, featuring both banquettes and chairs.

Via Napoli Seating and Frescoes

Via Napoli Seating and Frescoes

Floor Tiles

Hand-Painted Floor Tiles Contrast Warm and Cool Colors

While the building appears to be ancient, wall art also conveys a look at the past — the more recent past, though. You’ll find lots of interesting Italian travel posters throughout the restaurant.

Italian Travel Art


Once you’re in the main dining room, you’ll spy [Read more…]

Review: 50s Prime Time Cafe (The Cheese is Back!!)

I never say no to a meal at 50s Prime Time Cafe, but I hadn’t been in WAY too long. So when I got a little email tip from a reader last week (thanks, Courtney!!) I knew I had to head over there…and quick! A menu change was about to make my dreams come true!

Located at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, this place is pure nostalgia. You really feel like you’ve stumbled into the 1950s when you enter this eatery — from the decor to the menu, everything screams mid 20th Century Americana.

Fancy meatloaf and mashed potatoes or fried chicken? Then you’re in the right place! Grab a napkin and set of silverware, remember to keep your elbows off the table, and join me for a fun, interactive helping of comfort food in this well-loved table service spot.


Stepping into this restaurant truly is like stepping back in time.

50s Prime Time Sign - Outside

I never cease to be amazed at the way this restaurant immerses guests in the 1950s home atmosphere. You begin your meal by waiting in Dad’s Living Room. Be sure to take a moment and look around; I bet you’ll find something you’ll remember from your parents’ (or grandparents’!) house — I always do!

Dad's Living Room - The Waiting Area

Fancy a drink from Dad’s Liquor Cabinet? Then sidle up to the Tune-In Lounge Bar for a house specialty, or order something once you arrive at your table.

Full Bar at Tune In Lounge

Here’s a tip: If you can’t get an Advanced Dining Reservation here, hang out at the bar. You can order food there, too.

Another of Dad's Living Rooms - Seating for the Tune-In Lounge

When it’s time to [Read more…]

7 Underrated Disney World Appetizers (You’ve Gotta Try These!)

We were chatting in my house about some of our favorite Disney World appetizers and realized that we don’t hear people talk about these seven very often! Are they underrated? Simply unknown? Who knows. Either way, I want YOU to know about them, because they’re quite yummy indeed.

1. Citricos: Arancini-Crispy Risotto
This appetizer, with Italian Sausage, Quattro Formaggi, and White Truffle Aïoli, is different. And that’s what I love about it. Fried risotto. Cheese. Sausage. It’s like a little ball of comfort. I love that this is the way I begin my slow, relaxing meals at Citricos.

Citricos Arancini-Crispy Risotto

Citricos Arancini-Crispy Risotto

2. Beaches and Cream: Chili
Simple. Straightforward. The best chili on property. If you disagree, let me know your favorite!

3. Liberty Tree Tavern: Tavern Fried Cheese with Marinara Sauce
You may think these are just cheese sticks. But you’d be wrong. See those little pudgy ones on the side? Curds. Curds! DeeeLISH! There’s a completely different flavor here than your standard chain restaurant cheese sticks; at least WE think so!

Liberty Tree Tavern Fried Cheese

Liberty Tree Tavern Fried Cheese

4. Le Cellier: Spicy Chicken and Chipotle Sausage with Roasted Corn Polenta and Sweet Onion Jam
While patrons (including me!) rave about Le Cellier’s cheddar cheese soup and trio of breadsticks, we were blown away when we tried this chicken and chipotle sausage. The corn polenta adds just the right texture to compliment the sausage. It’s a meal in itself, but don’t forget you’ve still got steak coming!

Le Cellier Spicy Chicken and Chipotle Sausage with Roasted Corn Polenta

Le Cellier Spicy Chicken and Chipotle Sausage with Roasted Corn Polenta

5. Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room: Meat and Cheese Selection for Two
All you have to do is take one look at this beautiful board and you know it’s delicious. Black pudding, Stilton baked into a flaky pastry, sharp Cheddar, mushroom-infused Brie, candied walnuts, gherkin, a little pot of onions — it’s a little bit of everything. Truly, the best “cheese plate” I’ve found in Disney World to date. Pair this with a cup of the potato and leek soup, and you have an unforgettable meal. Thanks to for the photo!

Rose and Crown Dining Room Cheese and Meat Plate

Rose and Crown Dining Room Cheese and Meat Plate

6. ESPN Club: Patriot Clam Chowder
Liberty Tree Tavern has great clam chowder, too, but as they’re already on the list we wanted to mention our runner-up clam chowder at the ESPN Club! Brimming with clams and potatoes, we always order it with LOTS of oyster crackers…

7. California Grill: Potato Celery Soup
Unfortunately, this is seasonal. But I’m hoping it’s back next Winter! We were skeptical about California Grill until we dipped our soup spoons into this rich, flavorful, creamy soup. I wish words could explain how decadent this stuff is, but, alas, we’ll just have to hope we can fit all of the Disney Food Blog readers into a meet-and-greet at Cali Grill next February. For a hint of the recipe, check our California Grill review post.

California Grill Potato Celery Soup

California Grill Potato Celery Soup

There you have it! Our favorites, so far! Clearly we haven’t tried everything on every menu, so if you’ve got a contender, let me know by posting a comment. Thanks in advance!