Review: Tutto Gusto in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion

It’s time once again to look in on one of my favorite “hidden” spots in Epcot — Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar!

Tutto Gusto, located on the left as you travel through the Italy Pavilion toward Via Napoli at the back, hasn’t been open for very long. But in the short span of three years, Tutto Gusto has become a part of the fabric of World Showcase.

With its commitment to offering small plates that feature authentic Italian cuisine, Tutto Gusto has continued to be a DFB favorite. But you know me — I’m never content to continue recommending a spot unless I know for sure that it still  deserves to be recommended!

So, in the name of research, a friend and I headed there to grab a light dinner during a recent visit to Walt Disney World. We tried some new things and revisited some favorites. Let’s check it out.

Atmosphere

Although the sign for Tutto Gusto is perched high and prominent, it’s still sort of easy to miss it if you aren’t looking for it. You may mistake it for another entrance to neighboring Tutto Italia, if you notice it at all.

Tutto Italia and Gusto Wine Cellar

Tutto Italia and Gusto Wine Cellar

The entrance sits back a little, but Cast Members are usually flanking the door, and you’ll also notice the menus posted outside. Pay attention and you’ll find it.

Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar

Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar

Walk in and (after your eyes adjust to the darkened area) you’ll notice that the bar is front and center, serving as the small venue’s main feature.

Gusto Bar

Gusto Bar

Wine is king here, but you’ll also find an increasingly interesting array of Italian craft beers. Tutto Gusto also offers a full liquor bar. Check out the Italian-inspired cocktail menu, or order your favorite. Whatever you’re looking for, they can make it.

Gusto Bar

Gusto Bar

Because this is a wine bar, however, much of the real estate is given over to vino. Amuse yourself as you wait by checking out the ever-changing variety of Italian wines that are available by the glass or bottle.

Wine Fridge

Wine Fridge

Wine Fridge

Wine Fridge

But Tutto Gusto has more to offer than just beverages. From the get go, I prized this spot for their amazing array of small plates. There’s a display of some of the offerings to whet your appetite.

Antipasti Showcase at Tutto Gusto

Antipasti Showcase at Tutto Gusto

As is usually the case when you’re dining anywhere in the Disney universe, be sure to look up! The details of a spot usually include some really cool lighting, and Gusto is no exception.

Wine Bottle Lighting

Wine Bottle Lighting

You will find that Tutto Gusto can reach capacity rather easily — hence those Cast Members stationed at the doors. There isn’t a ton of seating here, but what you do find is rustic, cozy, and fairly comfortable. It is a little “close”, however, so if you prize privacy or personal space, you may want to look at the couch options.

Gusto Table

Gusto Table

Speaking of…you’ll find more comfy seating flanking the fireplace, another nice focal point in the small space.

Gusto Fireplace Area

Gusto Fireplace Area

Tables and stools here are low and well padded. It’s a great place to relax and catch up with friends, or to just take a breather from the bright sunshine.

Fireplace Area Seating at Tutto Gusto

Fireplace Area Seating at Tutto Gusto

And it truly is a beautiful location. Personally, I think they hit the themeing out of the park. Don’t you love the brick ceiling?

Tutto Gusto Seating

Tutto Gusto Seating

Having shown you around, I’m ready to get down to the serious business of [Read more…]

Guest Review: Harambe Nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Today, we welcome @MealTrip back to Disney Food Blog with an in-depth look — and some incredible photos! — of the opening night performance of Harambe Nights!

We enjoyed our first experience with this new hard ticket event at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom when we brought you a sneak peek from a media event recently. Now that the performance — which includes the new show The Lion King –A Concert in the Wild, a Welcome Reception, and a Street Party afterwards — is open to the public, we wanted to bring you another look at the event.

Let’s see what works — and what still needs a little work.

Harambe Nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

I made my way to the event location in plenty of time to check out the area for Harambe Nights before many of the guests arrived, and the set up is quite well done.

Festively-capped Cast Members greet guests of the event at the front gate of Animal Kingdom.

Cast Members Welcoming Guests to Harambe Nights

Cast Members Welcoming Guests to Harambe Nights

Here’s a close up of the Harambe Nights sign.

Welcome Sign

Welcome Sign

Let’s head in and take a look around.

Welcome Reception

As you enter the area, don’t forget to grab a program right after you check in and receive your wristband. The program contains information about merchandise, food, and the show.

Distributing Programs

Distributing Programs

It also gives you a handy schedule so you know just how the evening will unfold.

Event Program -- Click to Enlarge

Event Program — Click to Enlarge

Here’s the view as I arrived. The streets of the new Harambe Theater District are set up and ready to go before the party.

Streets of the New Harambe Street District as Guests Arrive

Streets of the New Harambe Street District as Guests Arrive

And here’s the area after 1,000 people are let in!

Streets of the New Harambe Theater District as it Fills with People

Streets of the New Harambe Theater District as it Fills with People

There are numerous beverage and food stations set up throughout the area. Here’s an example of one of the beverage stations. And yes — that’s Jungle Juice!

Beverage Station

Beverage Station

The Welcoming Party menu is somewhat light, and everything food and drink-wise is repeated at all stations, so if you’ve found one, you’ve found them all.

Welcome Reception Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Welcome Reception Menu — Click to Enlarge

The self-serve hot “appetizer” stations are well-looked after by Cast Members, and if you feel the line is too long when you walk up to one, just hang back and wait a few minutes. The crowds tend to ebb and flow, and there’s plenty of time to visit the food tables multiple times without standing in a long line.

Self Serve Appetizers at the Welcome Party

Self Serve Appetizers at the Welcome Party

Spicy Durban Chicken will be familiar to guests who have dined at Boma or Tusker House.

Spicy Durban Chicken

Spicy Durban Chicken

Also throughout the area, there are numerous [Read more…]

Review: Victoria and Albert’s Chef’s Table at the Grand Floridian Resort

Today, we travel up the elegant stairway to the pinnacle of fine dining at Walt Disney World, Victoria & Albert’s at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.

Join me for an unparalleled experience as I take you behind the opulence to the excitement and camaraderie of the Chef’s Table! And let me tell you… it’s AWESOME!!

Victoria and Albert’s is the crown jewel in Disney’s culinary offerings. And while it is certainly expensive (that might be an understatement), I aim to show you that for the true food lover, the Chef’s Table experience is worth every penny.

By the way, if you read through this review and decide the Chef’s Table is not for you, you can also dine in the Dining Room to the more intimate Queen Victoria Room.

Victoria and Albert's Plate

Reservations for Victoria and Albert’s go quickly. It is recommended that you book as close to 180 days out as possible. As for cost, the menu is prix fixe, meaning that you pay a set price for the meal. Expect your meal to begin at $135 per person for the Dining Room, with an additional charge of $65 for wine pairings. That price includes six courses. Queen Victoria’s Room and the Chef’s Table menus may include up to thirteen courses, and prices start at $210/person for dinner and $105 for wine pairings. Keep in mind that these prices do not reflect tax or gratuity, so be prepared.

While Queen Victoria’s Room offers the height of elegant dining, the Chef’s Table provides interested guests full access to the restaurant’s culinary team in a meal that is as much performance as it is sustenance.

Atmosphere

Once you check in for your reservation at the Chef’s Table, you are escorted through the well appointed (and very quiet!) main dining room. You’ll notice low light, beautiful fresh flowers, and the strains of harp music. The whole effect is quite romantic and very formal. There is a strict dress code here, and men must wear jackets.

Victoria and Albert's Main Dining Room

The Dining Room consists of a mere fourteen tables, beautifully set with spotless crystal and china. Very chi chi.

Victoria and Albert's Seating

We followed the debonaire Maître d’hôtel, Israel Perez, through this space and into the brightly lit kitchen. At that time, we were informed that Chef de Cuisine Scott Hunnel would not be joining us because of a conflicting event. In his place, Sous Chef Aimée Rivera would guide us through our meal.

Maître d'hôtel Israel Perez and Chef Rivera

Both Mr. Perez and Chef Rivera were phenomenal, and it’s clear that their passion and driving force is the comfort and enjoyment of their guests. Chef Rivera invited us to interact at will with the kitchen staff, and suggested that we voice any and all questions that we might have (Mua ha ha ha!!! She didn’t know just how annoying I can be!).

An interesting fact: once you are seated, you can’t [Read more…]

Countdown to Epcot Food and Wine Festival: Australia, Brazil, and Canada

The time is upon us again, my friends! The Epcot Food and Wine Festival will begin in just a couple of weeks, and I’ve decided to share my excitement by counting down to the Festival with a look at the International Marketplace booths that will be located around the World Showcase Lagoon!

For those who haven’t had the chance to go to the Festival, one of my favorite parts are the dozens of International Marketplaces — little booths, or kiosks, set up that represent a specific country or region. Each booth offers a short menu of tasting plates and drinks from the country or region represented. These tasting items cost anywhere from $2-$7, so they’re a great way to enjoy the Festival without breaking the bank.

Today, I’m going to highlight the representative menus from Australia, Brazil, and Canada!

Grilled Lamb Chop, Red Wine Sauce, Murray River Sea Salt as served at Food and Wine Fest

Australia

This year, Australia is highlighting a couple of the same items as they did last year, but they’re also bringing in an interesting dessert! Here’s the full menu for Australia:

  • Seared Barramundi with Blistered Cherry Tomatoes,Arugula, and Lemon Oil
  • Grilled Lamb Chop with Roasted Potato Salad and Red Wine Reduction (photo below from Tables in Wonderland 2010 Food and Wine Festival Preview)
  • Lamington (sponge cake dipped in chocolate)
  • Rosemount Traminer Riesling
  • Marquis Philips, Shiraz
  • Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet
  • Nugan Estate Riverina Chardonnay

I can highly recommend the Grilled Lamb Chop — it was one of my favorite festival items last year!

This year, the Australia booth will be located right between Morocco and Japan, right next to the Food and Wine Festival Merchandise tent.

Click here to see our Epcot Food and Wine Festival Australia Booth Page with Photos.

Pork Skewer with Farofa

Brazil

Brazil returned to the Festival in 2009 with an incredible menu, and they’re bringing most of it back this year! Here’s the full 2010 menu:

  • Grilled Pork Skewer with Farofa
  • Shrimp Stew with Coconut and Lime
  • Leblon Frozen Caipirinha

I wasn’t too impressed with the grilled pork skewer last year, but heard great things about the shrimp stew!

This year, the Brazil booth is located right at the entrance to the World Showcase Promenade as coming from Future World, directly across the lagoon from the American Adventure pavilion.

Click here to see our Epcot Food and Wine Festival Brazil Booth page with photos.

Polenta and Sausage Appetizer -- as served in the restaurant

Canada

Always a favorite booth among Food and Wine Festival guests, Canada offers some dedicated standards (cheddar cheese soup) as well as new favorites (sausage and corn polenta and nanaimo bars). Here’s the full 2010 menu:

  • Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup
  • Maple-Glazed Salmon with Lentil Salad
  • Chicken Chipotle Sausage with Sweet Corn Polenta
  • Nanaimo Bar
  • Moosehead Beer
  • Vidal Icewine
  • Chateau De Charmes Riesling
  • St. David’s Bench Vineyard Merlot

I am eagerly awaiting a sample of the nanaimo bars! These decadent goodies aren’t very well known in the states, but they are truly outstanding (assuming they don’t give you a heart attack mid-bite!). The sausage and sweet corn polenta is an exciting prospect as well; it’s a dish I adore at Le Cellier, Epcot’s Canadian table-service restaurant.

Click here to see our Epcot Food and Wine Festival Canada Booth page with photos.

Stay tuned for more booth highlights as we continue to count down to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

To see the rest of the booths, including full menus and photos when available, check out our Epcot Food and Wine Festival International Marketplace Booth Menus and Photos Guide. For more information on the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, check out our Epcot Food and Wine Festival Index.

What booth are you most excited about visiting at this year’s Festival? Let us know in the comments section below!

Review: Raglan Road Tables in Wonderland Dinner

Thanks to Julie Strachan Haiber for reporting on the recent Tables in Wonderland dinner at Raglan Road in Downtown Disney’s Pleasure Island! Julie is a WDW annual passholder, past Disney bride, and moderator on Disneymooner.com, a site dedicated to Disney Weddings and honeymoon planning. Thanks for taking the time to write up your review, Julie! Take it away!

My husband Rory and I recently had the opportunity to enjoy the “Tables in Wonderland” special event dinner at Raglan Road in Downtown Disney. We have dined at Raglan Road many times and were eager to meet Chef Kevin Dundon as well as sample the evening’s special cuisine.

Atmosphere
A back room in the restaurant was set up exclusively for the event, with flowers and candles on the tables, and about 60 people in attendance. We were seated at a table for six and dined with two local Orlando couples. We are annual passholders and travel to Orlando several times a year, and we very much enjoyed the company and conversation at our table. Each place setting had a menu tied with a flower and a signed copy of Chef Dundon’s cookbook, Great Family Food. [Read more…]

2009 Epcot Food and Wine Festival: Today’s Food Photos!

Epcot Food and Wine Festival welcome

This post is part of our series of posts on the 2009 Epcot Food and Wine Festival.  Be sure to check out more of the posts in the series.

Hi all! I’ll be putting up separate posts all about today’s Tequila Tasting Seminar, the Epcot Food and Wine Festival Center, the Taste of Puglia seminars, and the Festival Artwork artist — Tim Rogerson — with whom I had the chance to chat. For now, I wanted to share with you all of the delicious things I got the chance to try and see today. If your suggestion didn’t make it into this round of photos, don’t worry — I’ll get to it!

A radio station was broadcasting live from Epcot!

Radio Station Broadcasting Live

Radio Station Broadcasting Live

Around the World I go! Stopped in the San Juan booth for some Arroz con Pollo and Ham Croquettes.

San Juan Booth

San Juan Booth

Arroz con Pollo

Arroz con Pollo

Ham Croquettes from San Juan Booth

Ham Croquettes from San Juan Booth

Then it was next door to Santiago, Chile, for a taste of the Corn and Cheese Arepa and the Alfajores (Dulce de Leche Cookie). I also had a chance to snap a photo of the Rock Shrimp Ceviche. I love that they put popcorn in this thing — the CM said it was a Chile tradition.

The Corn and Cheese Arepa was nothing to write home about (basically, a cornmeal pancake — rather grainy on the inside — with a sprinkling of cheese), but the Alfajor was amazing. Served chilled, this little cookie was one of the superstars for me today.

Santiago Chile Menu

Santiago Chile Menu

Ceviche

Ceviche

Dulce de Leche Cookie

Dulce de Leche Cookie

Had to show you a pic of the delicious filling

Had to show you a pic of the delicious filling

Santiago, Chile, Corn and Cheese Arepe

Santiago, Chile, Corn and Cheese Arepe

Inside the Corn and Cheese Arepe

Inside the Corn and Cheese Arepe

Next came the first of two baklavas taste-tested today (thanks for the suggestion of the Baklava Throwdown!). I’m going to write the Baklava Throwdown as a separate post, but for now, here are photos of the Marrkesh Baklava and the Athens Baklava. Which do YOU think is better?

Epcot Food and Wine Festival Athens

Athens Baklava

Athens Baklava

Marrakesh Booth

Marrakesh Booth

Marrakesh Baklava

Marrakesh Baklava

I also snapped some shots of the New York State wines booth, as I’m such a giant fan of ice wine…

Wines of New York

Wines of New York

New York State wines menu

New York State wines menu

The ice wine is all the way to the right...

The ice wine is all the way to the right...

And I got the chance to chat with Tim Rogerson, the Festival Poster Artist. I’ll write a separate blog about his work, but I snapped a fun photo of Tim with his original masterpiece. (Note: I’ll grab the price on the poster tomorrow.)

Tim Rogerson with his original painting

Tim Rogerson with his original painting

Then it was over to New Orleans for a bit of some AMAZING Chicken and Andouille Gumbo and Praline Bread Pudding with Bourbon Caramel Sauce. I can’t tell you how many happy noises I made while chowing down on these two dishes. The Praline Bread Pudding tasted like a sugar-soaked monkey bread with the perfect crunch of sugar caramelization on the top. The Gumbo was spicy and flavorful — a meal in itself.

New Orleans Booth and Menu

New Orleans Booth and Menu

New Orleans Praline Bread Pudding

New Orleans Praline Bread Pudding

Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

I realized that Big Bad Voodoo Daddy was about to perform at the Eat to the Beat Concert, so I popped in to listen to the first song. I’d seen them in concert back in the 90’s, so it was fun to reminisce!

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy Announcement

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy Announcement

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy Performing at Eat to the Beat

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy Performing at Eat to the Beat

Continuing my tour, I headed to Melbourne, Australia, for a bite of Grilled Lamb Chop, Red Wine Sauce, and Murray River Sea Salt.

Melbourne, Australia Booth

Melbourne, Australia Booth

Grilled Lamb Chop, Red Wine Sauce, Murray River Sea Salt

Grilled Lamb Chop, Red Wine Sauce, Murray River Sea Salt

Finally, I headed over to the China booth to try a Green Tea Plum Wine Cooler. This drink was absolutely delicious. I highly recommend it to anyone. In fact, I liked it so much, I went back and got a photo of the Plum Wine bottle! Also got a shot of the rice pancake.

Shanghai, China Booth

Shanghai, China Booth

Green Tea Plum Wine Cooler, China

Green Tea Plum Wine Cooler, China

Plum Wine

Plum Wine

The Plum Wine pour and some rice pancakes in the China booth

The Plum Wine pour and some rice pancakes in the China booth

Whew!! I hope you’re still with me! I’ll be back tomorrow with more — and stay tuned for my Tequila Tasting Seminar post coming soon!