First Look and Review: The New Vivoli Gelateria in Disney World’s Disney Springs

Welcome to your newest cold snack stop in The Landing at Downtown Disney… Vivoli Gelateria (also known as Vivoli Il Gelato)!

Vivoli Gelateria outside 3

Of course, calling it a “cold snack stop” hardly does it justice. For a brand new place on the Disney dining scene, it’s rich with a history that began in Florence, Italy, in 1932, when Raphael Vivoli became one of the founders of the business.

Vivoli Sign

Vivoli Sign

Plus, that little “cold snack” we’re referring to is gelato crafted using many ingredients such as cocoa powder, pistachio, and hazelnut directly from Italy.

Just a few flavors in store

Just a few flavors in store

I can’t wait anymore! Let’s [Read more…]

News! Vivoli Gelateria Coming Soon to The Landing in Downtown Disney

Things got pretty exciting a few weeks ago when Disney announced more future Disney Springs dining spots.

Concept Art for Disney Springs' Town Center

Concept Art for Disney Springs’ Town Center

After all, some of the names on the list were already familiar to plenty of DFB readers, based in many cases on their location in the country. Some folks may be lucky enough to live near a Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza, and The Edison in Los Angeles already has quite a name for itself. Sprinkles Cupcakes? Yeah, I know that place! There’s one not too far from me, and it’s pretty rad.

However, there was a name on the list that didn’t ring quite as familiar… and there’s a pretty cool reason why. Vivoli Gelateria is a family-run business that only has one other location — and that’s in Florence, Italy.

Silvana Vivoli of Vivoli Gelateria ©Disney

Silvana Vivoli of Vivoli Gelateria ©Disney

Disney has announced that its second-ever storefront will be opening soon at The Landing of Disney Springs (the same area that The Boathouse and Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC now call home).

In fact, during a walkthrough of Downtown Disney the other night, we happened to spot the signage for ourself, right across from where Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar will be located. Here are a few shots of the brightly lit sign and the list of flavors posted outside the door. (Apologies for the not-great shots. :-) )

Vivoli Gelato Sign at Night

Vivoli Gelato Sign at Night

Vivoli Gelato Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Vivoli Gelato Menu — Click to Enlarge

The new location will use the same recipes from its original location (the business itself was founded in 1932). And it will also [Read more…]

New “Frozen” Gingerbread Display Debuts at Disney World’s Contemporary Resort

It’s time to ring in the season with the famous Disney World Resort Gingerbread Displays!

While displays throughout various resorts are in different stages towards completion, the Contemporary Resort has debuted its brand new 2014 Gingerbread Display themed to (shocker, I know) Frozen!

Contemporary Resort Gingerbread Display

Contemporary Resort Gingerbread Display

This impressive display brings together current and classic as the Frozen characters are designed in the vintage style of Mary Blair, as is fitting for the Contemporary. And the whole thing (which looks a lot like a Norwegian Stave Church) is set against a pretty familiar looking background. It’s Arendelle meets “it’s a small world.”

Contemporary Resort Gingerbread Display sign

Contemporary Resort Gingerbread Display sign

Frozen Friends

Frozen Friends

"It's a Small World" design

“It’s a Small World” design

As always, there are some great fun facts regarding the ingredients that make up this enormous display!

Ingredients!

Ingredients!

And those 14 Hidden Olafs? Just look among the characters to locate a few.

Olaf... and teeny tiny Olaf

Olaf… and teeny tiny Olaf

See the sliver of silver on the bottom left? That’s one!

Directly next to the display is a counter topped with gingerbread selling [Read more…]

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: Espresso Gelato “Affogato” in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion

We’re in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion, and that means it’s GELATO TIME!!!

Unless, of course, it’s pizza time, but for now we’re just going to focus on the sweet stuff :).

Italy’s simple Gelato Stand is located just before you enter the Pavilion coming from Germany.

Gelato Stand

Gelato Stand

We’ve enjoyed grabbing Gelato Ice Cream Sandwiches during a stroll or two around World Showcase, and you can always get a scoop of your choice of gelato in a cone or cup.

Gelato Selections

Gelato Selections

But there are some additional items on the menu as well. For instance, the Coppa Delizia pretty much rocked our world. Given that bit of awesomeness, we were curious to try one of the other “Gelato Creations” (designated as such on the menu): the Espresso Gelato “Affogato.”

Gelato Stand menu

Gelato Stand menu

I’m going to steal the description directly from the menu: this creation is “Italian Espresso poured over Fior di Latte Gelato topped with chocolate coffee beans.” And here’s what it looks like:

Espresso Gelato Affogato

Espresso Gelato Affogato

You’re getting a few treats in one here: a scoop of vanilla gelato, a shot of espresso, and several accompaniments: two simple cookies, chocolate coffee beans, and a wafer “straw”. By the way, am I right that the cookies stuck just so into the scoop of gelato make a Mickey?

Mickey?

Is that you, Mickey?

Affogato means “drowned,” and that pretty much sums up the consistency of this gelato creation. The weird thing is, even though [Read more…]

First Look! Trattoria al Forno to Replace Kouzzina by Cat Cora on Disney World’s BoardWalk

We are getting our first details today about the restaurant that will replace Kouzzina at Disney’s BoardWalk when it closes later this year.

Trattoria al Forno will join other eateries at the deluxe hotel and entertainment district. The restaurant is slated to open this December.

Trattoria al Forno Logo

The menu will feature Italian fare with an emphasis on regional specialities and classic preparations. Many ingredients will actually be made from scratch, in-house. We can’t wait to try the freshly handcrafted Mozzarella and the house-made Cavatelli!

The restaurant will also have wood-burning ovens, and they’ll put them to good use making — you guessed it! — Neapolitan-style Pizza! Will it be like Via Napoli meets the BoardWalk? Sounds good to me!

Quattro Fromaggi Pizza from Via Napoli

I’m Hoping for Pizzas Like the Quattro Fromaggi from Via Napoli!

But they aren’t stopping there. Eating through Trattoria al Forno’s menu will be like [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.

Atmosphere

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

Ah…Napoli

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

DFB Food Challenge: The Walt Disney World Gelato Crawl!

There’s not a lot that I love better on a hot day in Florida than a little ice cream. But leave it to Disney World to kick ice cream up a notch by offering Gelato!

Disney World Gelato Crawl

And we’re seeing it in a lot of different spots across Walt Disney World, and even in Disneyland. If you are a fan of this richer, more dense version of that snack we all scream for, then you’re in luck.

Today, we thought it was high-time to offer some inspiration for another DFB Food Challenge, and so we are going in search of all things gelato we can get our hands on with the Walt Disney World Gelato Crawl!

Since you can only enjoy so many desserts in a 24 hour period, feel free to bring along friends to split all the goodies, or pace yourself on the crawl by spreading out the stops over several days.

I hope you came hungry. Let’s get started!

Gelato Bars

Since our very first visit, Landscape of Flavors at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort has been one of our favorite counter service destinations. And one of the biggest reasons for that is their killer Gelato Bar!

If you’re lucky enough to be staying at Art of Animation, this first stop on the Gelato Crawl will be a snap! Check ‘em out!

Gelato at Disney's Art of Animation Resort

Gelato at Landscape of Flavors in Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

But my favorite thing about the Gelato Bar here — aside from the variety of flavors — is that you can also add toppings for a perfectly customized treat.

Toppings! Woo!

Toppings! Woo!

Pick your scoops, pick your sprinkles, and off you go!

My Favorite Combo -- Raspberry and Chocolate

My Favorite Combo — Raspberry and Chocolate

A couple of other Disney resorts also have gelato available. If you’re staying at Disney’s Coronado Resort, feel free to amend your crawl and start your gelato journey at Cafe Rix.

Gelato Flavors and Pricing at Cafe Rix

Gelato Flavors and Pricing at Cafe Rix

You can also check out a pretty awesome selection at End Zone Food Court over at All Star Sports!

End Zone Gelato Bar

End Zone Gelato Bar

Ahhhh…don’t you just love having options??

Gelato Cookie Sandwiches in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion

After polishing off your first gelato of the day, head straight for Epcot, where you’ll have lots of different ways to enjoy your frozen favorite! Next stop: the Italy Pavilion.

View from Epcot's Italy Pavilion

View from Epcot’s Italy Pavilion

For your next foray into gelato, stop by the little [Read more…]

Review: Create-Your-Own Burger Bar at the NEW All Star Sports End Zone Food Court

Recently we visited the newly reopened End Zone Food Court at Disney’s All Star Sports Resort. Now we’re back to review one of the new features on the menu: the Create-Your-Own Burger Bar!

Atmosphere

After a lengthy refurbishment, the new space was revealed! Featuring earth tones and a clean, fresh design, the food court maintains its fun sports theme.

End Zone Food Court

End Zone Food Court

End Zone Food Court

End Zone Food Court

While the theme is found in more subtle details now than it was previously, the element of fun is still very much present in the basketball court walls and the Disney characters who’ve joined in the mix!

Basketball Court Walls

Basketball Court Walls

Disney pals in the booth panels

Disney Pals in the booth panels

Eats

Along with the new space came a revamped menu! You can still find standbys such as pizza, hot dogs, and the Best Chicken Breast Nuggets on Earth (*not the actual name, just my opinion ;) ).

Today, though, we’re excited to share a review of one of the newest features in the food court: the Create-Your-Own Burger Bar!

Create Your Own Burger

Create Your Own Burger

First, guests have their choice of beef or chicken for their [Read more…]

First Look and Photo Tour! Disney World’s All Star Sports End Zone Food Court Reopens after Renovation

The End Zone Food Court at All Star Sports has just reopened after a lengthy refurbishment — four months, to be exact! We were thrilled to be on the scene for opening day, and are excited to have you join us for a FIRST LOOK!

End Zone Food Court Atmosphere

The first sight to greet you is nicely familiar… the entryway sign remains the same, so as to make the transition from the hallway seamless.

End Zone Food Court Entrance

But in no time you start to notice that things have indeed changed, thanks in part to this sleek “Now Serving” marquee immediately to your left at the entrance.

“Now Serving” Board

Then things really kick into high gear! Gone are the primary colors and life-size cutouts of football and baseball players. In their place are earthy tones and clean lines.

The changes are most notable in the dining area.

End Zone Dining Area

End Zone Dining Area

End Zone Dining Area

But they extend throughout the Food Court [Read more…]