Review: Tutto Italia Ristorante in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion

Nestled in Epcot’s Italy pavilion at Walt Disney World, Tutto Italia Ristorante is open for lunch and dinner. Welcome back DFB guest author Rebecca Dolan with a review!

Epcot’s Italy had long been one of our family’s favorite places to dine since we started visiting in the ‘80s. We were huge fans of the pavilion’s original restaurant L’Originale Alfredo di Roma Ristorante, and were admittedly a little crushed when we heard it was going to be closed and replaced with Tutto Italia. (Yes, this happened like seven years ago, but the wound is still fresh.)

We’ve been back to Tutto a few times since with mixed experiences, so we ventured back a few months ago to give it another go.

Atmosphere

You’ll find Tutto Italia off the Italy pavilion’s central piazza. Enter under the large black awning (that says Tutto Italia, of course). The understated lobby area is small, so be prepared to stand while waiting for a table if it’s crowded. The lobby also connects to the Tutto Gusto wine bar, which makes for a nice place to enjoy an early glass of wine if your wait is long.

Outside Tutto Italia

Outside Tutto Italia

Off the front of the building is a patio with some seating (how very Mediterranean of them) which is great for a balmy Florida evening, though probably less so for a scorching July afternoon. In fact, Tutto Italia is one of the few full-service restaurants along the world showcase to offer outside seating.

Enjoy the chance to dine full-service outside at Epcot

Enjoy the chance to dine full-service outside at Epcot

Inside, the dining room looks much like it did in this building’s previous incarnation as Alfredo’s. Murals still decorate the walls and giant crystal chandeliers hang from the ceiling, otherwise it’s lots of dark wood and booths that make the room seem small and crowded.

Inside the no-frills dining room

Inside the no-frills dining room

Eats

The menu features a number of familiar Italian classics like fried calamari, antipasto, lasagne, ravioli, and risotto. For those not into carb-loading at lunch, there are a few meat and fish entrees as well.

Appetizers

Appetizers

Pasta Entrees

Pasta Entrees

Entrees and Children's Menu

Entrees and Children’s Menu

Each meal starts out with a plate of pillowy focaccia bread plus olive oil for dipping and whole green olives for munching. I’m a big fan of the olive oil here, which always seems to be more fruity and flavorful than what I can get in the store.

Focaccia and olives to eat while you look over the menu

Focaccia and olives to eat while you look over the menu

I also took this opportunity to order the “tropical blend” iced tea. I’m not sure how Italian that really is, but I’m a sucker for flavored iced teas and this fruity brew did not disappoint. A glass of sangria, however, had a little too much of some alcohol in the mix, which kept its fruitiness from coming out. We kept trying to ask exactly what was in it to no avail.

Being an Italian family, we can never visit Tutto Italia (or any Italian restaurant for that matter) without ordering the antipasto platter. The version here came piled with cured meats, cheeses, farro salad, artichoke hearts, eggplant caponata, marinated mushrooms, and sweet peppers. It was easily enough to feed four, and could be shared by more depending on your appetites.

The grande antipasto misto

The grande antipasto misto

We also ordered the Fior de Latte mozzarella, which was accompanied by roasted sweet peppers. It was indeed creamy and delicious, but both, as it turned out, were components of the antipasto platter. So, it was unnecessary repetition.

Fior de Latte mozzarella with roasted peppers

Fior de Latte mozzarella with roasted peppers

After finishing our appetizers we put in our entree orders. Curiously, the orders came out less than 10 minutes after we ordered. Sure pasta isn’t exactly time intensive, but the quick turn around made us wonder how much of the meal was pre-prepared. That might have accounted for the fact that much of it was cold. So, you may want to take a bite before your server walks away.

I went for the spaghetti, which came topped with beef and veal meatballs and pomodoro sauce. I rarely order spaghetti and meatballs out since they almost always fail to live up to expectations. And, while this was definitely not my grandmother’s spaghetti, it was better than most restaurant versions I’ve encountered. The sauce was thick and low on chunks (there are few things I hate more than chunky sauce) and the pasta was just firm enough. The meatballs were ok, if a little dense.

Classic spaghetti and meatballs with red sauce

Classic spaghetti and meatballs with red sauce

The penne caprese, topped with tomato sauce and cubes of mozzarella, is similar to the spaghetti. The big difference (aside from the pasta shape, of course) is the sauce that’s lighter tasting and flecked with bits of cherry tomato and basil. Nothing mind blowing, but nothing to complain about.

A heaping plate of penne

A heaping plate of penne

The lasagna was pretty standard, with layers of pasta, chunky meat ragu, and creamy bechamel sauce. Carnivores will appreciate the generous amount of meat tucked between those pasta sheets, but as a cheese lover, I was disappointed that the ricotta and mozzarella cheese I’m used to weren’t there. The flavor was fine, even without the cheese, but between the too-soft pasta and too-much bechamel, the texture was mushy.

Hearty lasagna al forno

Hearty lasagna al forno

The Polenta Valsugana was a big [Read more…]

Guest Review: Citricos at Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort

The Grand Floridian Resort is home to several fine dining experiences. Today, guest author Rebecca Dolan reviews the resort’s Citricos restaurant.

I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on Citricos all these years.

My family and I tend to shy away from Disney’s fine dining experiences. Truth be told, we’re often just too tired (read: lazy) to put on “real” clothes after a day at the parks. But, this meal is even worth putting on your nice khakis for.

Atmosphere

Citricos is set on the second floor of Walt Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort at the back of the main building, where it shares a check-in foyer with Victoria & Albert’s.

A set of iron gates is an artistic touch to delineate the waiting area from the bar and dining room.

The gates to Citricos

Fun gate detail

Past them is the first dining area and bar. This is bordered by large windows overlooking the rest of the hotel and the Seven Seas Lagoon to the right, with a large wine room, bar, and display kitchen to the left. A bit further back is a glass-and-wood enclosed “chef’s domain” — a private dining rom.

The bar

Front part of the dining room, with tons of natural light

Entrance to the glass-enclosed private dining room

The rear part of the dining room is perhaps what Citricos is known for architecturally. The round room is enclosed by what are essentially floor-to-ceiling windows, offering an amazing view of the property, the lagoon, and even part of the Magic Kingdom.

Round dining room, again with no shortage of a view

Looking out over the Grand Floridian

Though it’s a bit obstructed, you can even catch a glimpse of the [Read more…]

What CAN’T You Get in Disney Parks?

What food items do you wish you could find at Disney Parks, but just aren’t there?

Does Epcot Need More Spanish Food...Permanently?

Does Epcot Need More Spanish Food...Permanently?

In other words,

What CAN’T you get to eat or drink in Disney parks?

I posed this question on facebook and twitter last week and got some really interesting answers.

Some folks wanted old-school items to return, like the cheese omelet from Electric Umbrella and those yummy character-shaped filled chocolate truffles (remember those? I liked the peanut butter ones.). But the rest of the answers were clamoring for things folks have been missing (or haven’t yet found) in Disney parks, like:

  • Good Maryland-style crab
  • Spanish food
  • Sweet Tea
  • Now THAT'S a Cheesesteak

    Now THAT'S a Cheesesteak

  • Fondue
  • Philly Cheesesteak
  • A good gyro
  • A make-your-own salad bar
  • Good Italian food
  • “Decent ribs”
  • Mr. Pibb (only available at McDonald’s on property)
  • Chic-fil-a :)
  • Toblerone bars
  • And…everyone’s most emphatic answer…GOOD PIZZA!

Personally, I’ve got my sights set on some good Buffalo Chicken Wings, though I’ve been told I can find those at the ESPN Club on WDW’s Boardwalk.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear:

Sometimes Hershey's Just Ain't Enough...

Sometimes Hershey's Just Ain't Enough...

1. What favorite items do YOU wish you could find in the parks?

2. If you’ve got an idea where folks can find any of the items listed above, please chime in! I figure, between all of us, we’ve been to every restaurant and food stop in the Disney parks. If those items are available, someone who reads this blog will know about it!

Photo credits: Spain: Joe Shlabotnik, Toblerone: Ultra, Cheesesteak: Sauce Supreme