Review: Tony’s Town Square at Magic Kingdom

Time for a visit to a great little table service stop in the heart of all the magic — Tony’s Town Square in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom!

This spot has it all — Disney history, beautiful themeing, and if you play your cards right, some of the best views in the entire resort!

But while I love the restaurant itself, the food hasn’t always been the main draw in the past.

We’re checking in today for lunch to see what’s new, and if my love affair with that the patio seating remains firmly intact!

Atmosphere

Tony’s is located right on the Town Square (natch) of Magic Kingdom — as soon as you pass below the train station and enter Main Street USA. You can’t miss it.

Tony's Sign

Pass by the Town Square Theater where you can meet Mickey, and you’re there!

Tony's Entrance

Inside, you’ll check in at the hostess stand and await your table. While a walk up spot isn’t unheard of, it’s best to make an advance dining reservation here — especially if you’d like to take advantage of Tony’s biggest draw. We’ll get to that in a few minutes.

Tony's Check-In

The waiting area was given a bit of a refresh last year, when the Town Square Theater opened as the new spot for Mickey’s meet-and-greet.

The space retains its turn-of-the-century charm, but the finishes are newer. You’ll also get your first dose of the restaurant’s star characters and theme! The animated classic Lady and the Tramp plays continually on the flat screen television.

Tony's Waiting Area

Once your table is ready, you’ll be shown to one of three main seating areas. The restaurant is [Read more…]

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!!!)

Atmosphere

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…]

Guest Review: Lunch at Via Napoli in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion

Today, we’re traveling to Epcot’s Italy Pavilion for lunch at Via Napoli in this guest review by Julie B.!

Buongiorni a tutti! I want to tell you about one of my favorite places for lunch in all of Disney World: Via Napoli, located in the Italy pavilion of World Showcase.

Via Napoli is a relatively recent addition to the dining options of Epcot (and part of a major restaurant overhaul in Italy’s pavilion over the past few years).

This pizzeria doesn’t disappoint when enlightening diners with the true wonders of Neapolitan pizza.

Via Napoli!

Atmosphere

The first thing you should know about Via Napoli is that it’s huge, and I mean HUGE! When you walk into the main dining room you’ll notice that it’s very wide but also features sky-high ceilings. This does create a lot of echoing, so Via Napoli is not the best place to come for an intimate meal (but it’s great if you’ve got kids who need to blow off some steam).

The large dining room.

A benefit of those high ceilings is that they have large windows and allow the room to be bathed in natural light. It’s one of the main reasons I love to dine here for lunch instead of dinner.

Another one of my favorite parts of the restaurant’s large size is the center table that stretches across the whole room. If you’re seated at this table, you’ll be [Read more…]

Review: Wolfgang Puck Express in Downtown Disney Orlando

Time to head back to one of my favorite counter service spots in Disney World — Wolfgang Puck Express!

WPE offers consistently delicious food in an atmosphere that may make you think you’ve wandered into a table service restaurant. And with locations in both the Marketplace and West Side ends of Downtown Disney, you’re never far from one of their excellent meals.

Normally, it’s the Marketplace location that we favor as it’s bigger and has much more seating. But today we decided to give the West Side location a try. (If you’d like to see the details of my last Wolfgang Puck Express Marketplace visit, click here.)

Located just next to Wolfgang Puck Cafe and Dining Room, this location offers great eats for everyone. From grab and go, to pizza and more, there are really some incredible options here.

Wolfgang Puck Express West Side Sign

Let’s head in and check it out!

Atmosphere

Wolfgang Puck Express West Side is impossible to miss, situated across from Splitsville and the AMC Theatre. You’ll find the entrance tucked just to the left of the restaurant’s main door.

Wolfgang Puck Express West Side

I enjoy visiting WPE during the day. While the restaurant takes on a chic, modern vibe at night, the sun streaming in during daylight hours makes for a bright, cheerful spot.

Indoor Seating

Of course, there is also outdoor seating and this busy area offers primo people-watching opportunities. The ceiling fans and overhang make it quite comfortable as long as you’re not visiting during the height of summer.

Outdoor Seating

The open kitchen allows you to watch as chefs prepare the goodies — especially pizzas, for which WPE is famous.

On Stage Kitchen and Pizza Oven

Time to Make the Pizzas

Here’s the star of Wolfgang Puck’s — the [Read more…]

5 Things You’ve Gotta Try at Walt Disney World in 2013!

It is a great time to be a Walt Disney World Fan, and an even greater time to be a Disney Food Fan! There has been a truly dizzying array of really unique, inventive food to come down the pike over the last year, and we can’t wait to hear what YOU think about it.

Since we are all about the eats in these parts, I thought I’d give you my two cents on the 5 Things You’ve Gotta Try at Walt Disney World in 2013 — Food Edition! Let’s do it!

Tutto Gusto

If you haven’t had the chance to stop by Tutto Gusto, the new wine bar that opened in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion last summer, I heartily recommend you get there, asap!

Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar

This alluring, intimate spot has enjoyed lots of business since opening — I often find it full to the max when I visit! (Luckily, I snapped this pic on an early day!)

Gusto Fireplace Area

Following on the heels of the success enjoyed by its Mexican cousin, La Cava del Tequila, Tutto Gusto adds even more eats. Not only can you find an extraordinary assortment of Italian wines and beers, but there is also a wonderful menu of small bites to choose from.

Even non-wine drinkers can find plenty to love about this spot, which feels like it was just transported to Florida from Italy. Italian Cheese and Sausages? Sign me up!

Tutto Gusto Cheese Board

Stop in for a glass, some cheese, or even heavier pasta or panini options. The full menu from Tutto Italia next door is available here, too!

Or grab a fabulous dessert and a glass of Moscato. You won’t be disappointed.

Territory Lounge Eats

When I need a break from the [Read more…]

Super VALUE: Cheesy Pesto Bread at Art of Animation Resort

We’re heading back to Disney World’s Art of Animation Resort today for another fun stop at Landscape of Flavors!

In case you haven’t seen all the buzz, this upscale counter service spot opened to rave reviews with guests. Billed as the next generation of Disney food courts, its top draw is the emphasis on options, choice, and customization for guests.

Recently, I found myself in need of a little afternoon snack while I was visiting the resort, so I decided to stop in and see what was new to me on the menu.

Menu -- Click to Enlarge

And right there between the Meatball Sandwich and the Create-Your-Own Pasta, I saw those three magical words. Cheesy. Pesto. Bread.

Um. Yes, please.

And then I realized that it’s a Disney Dining Plan snack credit option! What a great deal! I mean, that thing is pretty much the size of two french bread pizzas…it could easily be a meal, right?

Cheesy Pesto Bread

It takes a while to make the pesto bread, since it’s not put together ahead of time and sitting under a heat lamp. I think the wait is worth it!

When I received my order, cheese hot and bubbly from under the broiler, it looked so much better than it did in the menu picture. I could really tell that [Read more…]

Money-Saving Tip: The “No Kids Meal Challenge”

Let’s welcome back guest author Katie Drake with an interesting food challenge: saving cash by NOT ordering kids’ meals! Sounds counter-intuitive? Read on…

The Kids’ Meal Dilemma

Tell me I’m not the only parent this has happened to: you sit down for lunch, and instead of eating their chicken nuggets and apple sauce, your child is eager to get moving to the next ride.

So you and your spouse pick at the nuggets, eventually throwing most of the meal away. And 30 minutes after lunch is done, you hear the dreaded whine: “I’m hungry.”

No Kids Meal Challenge

The No Kids Meal Challenge at Walt Disney World

I’m not a plate cleaner myself, but I do hate seeing so much food – and money – go to waste. So on our recent trip to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, our group of three families agreed to a challenge: no kids meals.

Instead, the three sets of parents would share their meals with the five kids in the group, supplementing with snacks if we were still hungry.

We figured this would save us some cash, result in less food being thrown away, and leave more room in our tummies for the Mickey-shaped pretzels and Dole Whips we always seem to buy anyway.

No Kids Meals Group

We figured this would work:

  1. because Disney’s portions are generally pretty big,
  2. our kids are still fairly small (ranging in age from one to five years old),
  3. we’re never actually hungry in the parks anyway since there is so much good stuff to eat by way of snacks.

Always prepared, the moms did supplement our meals a bit. String cheese, juice boxes, crackers, apple sauce, and fruit snacks all made their way into the parks with us, and they were available whenever any child showed the slightest hint of hunger away from a meal or other snack. [Read more…]

Review: Pizza Planet at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Time to head To Infinity…and Beyond! (Except you’ll pretty much stay in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.) Recently, I headed over for a late lunch (early dinner?) at Pizza Planet to see what was up!

A perennial kids’ favorite, families LOVE this place! The pizza-heavy menu and oodles of video games make this a good family stop in a park that’s not necessarily known for its kid-oriented counter service options. And while the food probably won’t wow you, the chance to let the kids burn off some energy might.

Atmosphere

Did you know that Pizza Planet has been mentioned in every Pixar film except The Incredibles? Remember the “YO” truck in Toy Story? Pizza Planet Delivery Guy!

Modeled after the fictional restaurant Pizza Planet from the Toy Story franchise (complete with a huge arcade!), you’ll feel like you’ve stepped right into the film as you enter the place.

Outside Sign

It’s actually housed in part of the old Backlot Area at the Studios, right across the way from Muppet Vision 3D.

Pizza Planet

Even if you’re just looking to escape the heat for a little, this place is huge and offers seating upstairs, downstairs, or [Read more…]

Guest Review: Pinocchio Village Haus — Now With Flatbreads!

We’re welcoming back guest author Melissa Sue Sorrells Galley with a review of Pinocchio Village Haus. And since the new menu was recently revealed, we’ll also include a review of one of the new flatbreads available!

After recovering from One More Disney Day, I headed back into the Magic Kingdom where I found myself exiting Mickey’s PhilharMagic to the realization that I was starving.

That’s when a Cast Member with a puppet waved at me, and I knew what I had to do.

No strings!

Atmosphere

Tucked between the new Fantasyland construction walls and it’s a small world, Pinocchio Village Haus is a bit confusing. It’s in Fantasyland, and the food is Italian, but the restaurant itself is based on the Bavarian architecture that Walt and Lillian Disney were so fond of.

Pinocchio Village Haus

In fact, it’s set in a little German village, where there’s oompah playing over the speakers and you order lunch in what appears to be a charming courtyard.

Once you’ve got your food in hand, it’s time to [Read more…]

Disney Food Post Round-Up: May 13, 2012

Citrus Turkey Plate at Flo's V-8 Cafe in Cars Land

Will you be dining at one of the new Cars Land or Buena Vista Street restaurants at Disney California Adventure when they open on June 15th?

We’re so excited to be taste-testing and reviewing the food offerings, including those at Flo’s V-8 Cafe and Sally’s Cozy Cone Motel!

Disney Food News

Here’s the latest happening in the Disney Food World this week!

We’ve got more food news (including poolside ice cream at Disney World’s Saratoga Springs Resort) on our Disney Food News Pin Board, where Disney Food News is updated on a regular basis!

The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining 2012 Ebook Review

Thanks to our good friend StudiosCentral.com for a great review of our latest guidebook, The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining 2012.


Here’s an excerpt:

… the amount of detail here astounds and impresses me. Topics I had never even considered were covered (scavenger hunts, how to avoid meltdowns in WDW restaurants, etc). If you love Walt Disney World and enjoy dining there, then to me there’s no question that you ought to pick up a copy of this book for your collection.

For Studios fans, you’ll find sections in the e-book that are just for you, including: a drinking guide, reviews of counter-service and table-service restaurants, snack recommendations, and a unique one-day dining strategy.

Read the full Studios Central review here!

Order your copy of the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining today! And don’t forget to check out our other great e-Books at our new DFBStore.com!

On To The Round-Up

AllEars.net’s Andrew Rossi visits the Artist Point at the Wilderness Lodge.

Walt Disney World for Grown Ups investigates options for solo diners at Disney World!

Yesterland reminisces about the Baker’s Field Bakery in Disney California Adventure.

Random Neat Stuff shares vintage Disneyland restaurant menus!

DVCNews announces that soft serve ice cream will be served pool-side at Saratoga Springs Resort.

Daveland shares vintage photos of the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship Restaurant in Disneyland. Awesome pics!

Eating (and Drinking) Around the World take us on a culinary tour around Epcot’s World Showcase, including a Wine Walk and pizza at Via Napoli.

Main Street Gazette discovers savory (not sweet) options at Boulangerie Patisserie in Epcot’s France pavilion.