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: Bistrot Chez Rémy at Disneyland Paris

Join us in welcoming Guest Author Mark Zambrano with a review from Disneyland Paris. Today, he takes us to the brand new Bistrot Chez Rémy!

Welcome to Chez Remy

Welcome to Chez Remy

Bistrot Chez Rémy is the new 370 seat table service restaurant located on La Place de Rémy at Walt Disney Studios Park, the largest in Disneyland Paris.

Immaculately themed with Disney details around every bend, this rat-sized addition to Disneyland Paris is a fantastic chance to step inside the wonderful world of Ratatouille.

Atmosphere

Follow the signs from Toy Story Playland to La Place de Rémy, where roofs are crowded with crooked chimneys, classic Parisian street lamps line the cobblestone streets, and hidden Rémy’s abound.

Imagineers seemed to have spared no expense creating this “Pixar Paris” that transports guests to the City of Light right in the middle of a Disney Park.

Remy Lamp Post

Adjacent to the incredible new ride, Ratatouille: The Adventure – L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy, is Bistrot Chez Rémy, serving French food with flare and shrinking diners to the size of Rémy & Co. with the help of some very oversized furniture, cutlery, and other accoutrements.

Chez Rémy Sign

Chez Rémy Sign

Bistrot Chez Rémy Outdoor Awning

Bistrot Chez Rémy Outdoor Awning

Chez Rémy Door Detail

Chez Rémy Door Detail

As soon as you walk through the door of Chez Rémy, you are immersed in Ratatouille. From Chef Gusteau’s Golden Fork award, Rémy’s honorary Doctorate of Culinary Arts, Anton Ego’s famous critique or the famed “Anyone Can Cook!” cookbook, the walls are awash with memorabilia to set the mood.

Make sure to pay special attention as you walk past the check in desk – you might just spy a 5 euro note framed on the wall. It’s the tip left by Chez Rémy’s very first customer!

Chez Rémy Check In Podium

Chez Rémy Check In Podium

Chez Rémy Podium Up Close

Chez Rémy Podium Up Close

Chez Rémy Waiting Area

Chez Rémy Waiting Area

Chez Rémy Waiting Area Seating

Chez Rémy Waiting Area Seating

Chez Rémy Decor

Chez Rémy Decor

Chez Rémy

Chez Rémy

Chez Rémy Wall Decor

Chez Rémy Wall Decor

Chez Rémy Lobby Decor

Chez Rémy Lobby Decor

Continue on to the dining room where champagne corks serve as stools, giant plates divide the booths and lights come courtesy of candles on spoons. Tropical drink umbrellas add flare to jelly topped tables, Christmas lights hang through giant copper pots on the ceiling and measuring spoons dress the walls with tacks.

You can tell great pains were taken to replicate the final scene of the movie to a T. As we were guided to our table (AKA the top of a sardine can), we barely had enough time to take it all in.

Chez Rémy Dining Room

Chez Rémy Dining Room

Chez Rémy Table

Chez Rémy Table

Chez Rémy Tables

Chez Rémy Tables

Chez Rémy Table and Decor

Chez Rémy Table and Decor

Chez Rémy Dining Room Details

Chez Rémy Dining Room Details

Chez Rémy Dining Room

Chez Rémy Dining Room

Chez Rémy Dining Room

Chez Rémy Dining Room

Chez Rémy Lighting

Chez Rémy Lighting

Chez Rémy Decor Detail

Chez Rémy Decor Detail

Chez Rémy Seating Areas

Chez Rémy Seating Areas

Eats

Our bottle cap chairs were surprisingly comfortable as we perused the menu – all prix fixe with the exception of dessert, if you so choose. While offerings are limited, there should be something for everyone on the menu – including vegetarians. The dish made famous by [Read more…]

Photo Tour and Review: NEW Polynesian Village Resort Lobby, and Tiramisu Cupcake at Captain Cook’s

Happy New Year!!

We don’t know a better way to celebrate than with this gorgeousness! OK, OK, we know you’ve probably got all kinds of resolutions for 2015. But, as far as I’m concerned, those start on MONDAY!!! Let’s take a look at one last indulgence, shall we…?

On a recent visit to the Polynesian Village Resort, I stopped by Captain Cook’s and peeked in the refrigerator, expecting to find the Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cupcake, as per usual.

However, something unexpected caught my eye that I decided to pick up: the Tiramisu Cupcake.

Tiramisu Cupcake

Tiramisu Cupcake

Now, typically I might take you on a little tour around Captain Cook’s before we dig in, but the big news at the Polynesian is the recent reopening of the lobby at the Great Ceremonial House, which has been closed off for refurbishment for much of the year.

Polynesian Village Resort lobby

Polynesian Village Resort lobby

So, instead, I thought I might show some of the pictures of the refurbished lobby since the Polynesian is such a major dining destination at Disney World no matter which resort you choose to stay in. Obviously, our focus on this site is food, and since the Polynesian is home to such popular restaurants as ‘Ohana and Kona Cafe, we know that many DFB readers loved seeing the lobby upon arrival for their Advance Dining Reservation, whether they were preparing to enjoy breakfast with Stitch and Lilo at ‘Ohana, or the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show.

Entering from the main downstairs entrance, the signature large waterfalls have been removed. Now this area features open space, lots of seating, and a small water feature (which differs from the original artist renderings for now, but I understand that the Tiki statue previously featured in the artwork may still become a part of the structure next year).

Polynesian Village Resort lobby

Polynesian Village Resort lobby

Seating in the lobby

Seating in the lobby

Water Feature

Water Feature

Without the presence of the large waterfalls, the new light fixtures become a major focal point.

Lighting fixtures

Lighting fixtures

Lighting fixtures

Lighting fixtures

Lighting fixtures

Lighting fixtures

Moving upstairs, the natural light seems to stream more to dining areas such as Kona Cafe and Kona Island (although I really don’t know if that’s more due to the fact that construction walls have been cutting off much of the light in recent months, so my eyes may just be readjusting).

Kona Cafe

Kona Cafe

The seating area near Tambu Lounge and ‘Ohana has new furniture and carpeting as well.

Seating area near the Tambu Lounge

Seating area near the Tambu Lounge

Seating area near the Tambu Lounge

Seating area near the Tambu Lounge

Captain Cook’s, however, remains unchanged (well, since the reopening from its own refurbishment in August, that is), so now that we’re there, why don’t we get straight to the cupcake?

Captain Cook's sign

Captain Cook’s sign

Captain Cook's dining room

Captain Cook’s dining room

When I spotted the Tiramisu Cupcake, the first thing I noticed were the peaks of frosting all over the top. I assumed it might be a marshmallow or whipped cream topping to mimic the light texture of tiramisu.

But it was actually — to my happy surprise — rich, dense peaks of cream cheese (I assume as a play on mascarpone), all dusted with cocoa like a proper tiramisu.

Tiramisu Cupcake

Tiramisu Cupcake

The white cake base resembles [Read more…]

Dinner Review: The NEW Trattoria al Forno at Disney World’s BoardWalk Inn

We’ve been waiting and the day is finally here! We have had our first dinner at the brand new Trattoria al Forno, and we’re excited to share it with you!

Trattoria Stone Medallion at the Hostess Station

Trattoria Stone Medallion at the Hostess Station

Trattoria al Forno replaces Kouzzina by Cat Cora, which closed in September after a 5-year run on the BoardWalk. While we have heard from some readers that they’ll miss the Greek restaurant, we are interested in seeing just how Disney goes forward bringing an Italian offering to this space.

It is true that there are many Italian restaurants on Disney World property — several within walking distance of Trattoria al Forno. So it will be interesting to see how this one compares. Speaking of, let’s head in and explore a bit before we turn our attention to the food.

Atmosphere

We gave you the full tour of the new restaurant last week, but we’ll show you around just a little here as well. You’ll find Trattoria al Forno tucked into Disney’s BoarkWalk, right between Seashore Sweets and the BoardWalk Pizza Window.

Trattoria Entrance

Trattoria Entrance

Step inside, and rich, earthy finishes of stone and wood greet you. Directly ahead, the bank of wine coolers hints to you the large role that vino plays in the menu.

Entrata

Entrata

As was the case in the restaurant’s previous lives — before it was Kouzzina, the Mediterranean-leaning Spoodles occupied the spot — the exhibition kitchen has always been the main focus of the dining room. That continues with Trattoria al Forno.

Wide Shot of the Trattoria Kitchen

Wide Shot of the Trattoria Kitchen

And it is this detail that makes the backstory of the space a little thin. As it goes, Trattoria al Forno is a family-owned restaurant that has been on the BoardWalk for years. Originally, the family owned a boardinghouse and a restaurant, but over time, the restaurant has grown.

Kitchen

Kitchen

With its growth, it has expanded down the BoardWalk, taking in one room after another — but they all face the beautiful exhibition kitchen. Perhaps the kitchen grew, too. :-)

This is one of the most extensive “on stage” kitchens that you’ll find at Disney World. It seems that just about everything takes place in front of guests, and finishes and equipment are part of the decor. Check out the bright red meat slicer, which will be used to slice some paper-thin charcuterie a little later on in our story.

(By the way, in the background of this picture you’ll see Chef Dee Foundoukis, who arrived here to head the kitchen for Cat Cora at Kouzzina and has apparently stayed on with Trattoria al Forno. So for those who are chef-watchers at Disney World, that may be an interesting tidbit.)

Meat Slicer and Chef Dee!

Meat Slicer and Chef Dee!

But let’s get back to the theme. To convey the progression, you see slight changes throughout the space from “room” to “room.” The restaurant’s original dining room is the Cucina, a warm, casual spot that has the feel of an eat-in kitchen.

Kitchen from the Cucina, the Restaurant's First Dining Room

Kitchen from the Cucina, the Restaurant’s First Dining Room

At some point, the family must have decided to glam things up a bit and build a more upscale dining room, and the Sala de Pranzo came into being. You know you’ve arrived in the formal dining room from cues like the crystal chandeliers overhead and the large display of silver and glassware along the back wall.

Sala da Pranzo

Sala da Pranzo

Still, business continued to boom, so a living room area, the Salotto, was converted to the restaurant’s third dining room.

Seating in the Salotto

Seating in the Salotto

Finally, guests may also find themselves in the Taverna. According to the story, this secluded area represents the restaurant’s origins and still retains the feel of a cozy inn restaurant. (Guests who dined at Kouzzina will recognize this as the former “Coranation” Room, an area used for Chef’s Table dining.)

The Taverna

The Taverna

Throughout the space, the seating is comfortable, and finishes are rich and refined. There is a mismatched sense to the furnishings, but it doesn’t really intrude on your consciousness. Overall, the theme here is conveyed in subtle fashion.

Seating -- Looking Back Across the Rooms

Seating — Looking Back Across the Rooms

We had dinner at Trattoria al Forno on opening night, and the restaurant was full throughout our time there. Even at capacity, however, it never seemed loud or uncomfortable. Shocking, since the previous restaurants in this space — Kouzzina and Spoodles — were well known for sound carrying and bouncing off the walls.

A Full House on Opening Night!

A Full House on Opening Night!

Speaking of dinner, let’s get to it.

Eats

When we sat down to order at Trattoria al Forno, we found the menu to be a curious mix. Based on pricing alone, you quickly understand that [Read more…]

Review: Tiramisu at the Gelato Stand in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion

Could it be true? We’re stopping by the Gelato Stand in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion and not having gelato?!

If you’re not familiar with this understated kiosk, the main draw here is, obviously, gelato ;) . You can have your choice of flavor served in a cup or cone, or enjoy one of the “Gelato Creations” like the Coppa Delizia or the Espresso Gelato Affogato. There’s also the gelato sandwiches, made with chocolate chip cookies. And a selection of wine and beer is also available, along with a few specialty coffee beverages and Italian sodas.

But there are a couple of sweet concoctions here that tend to fly under the radar against all that gelato goodness, so we thought we’d shine a light on one of those today: the Tiramisu.

Italy's Gelato Stand

Italy’s Gelato Stand

Alongside the Cannoli also found at this spot, Tiramisu is a well-known Italian dessert featuring layers of mascarpone cream and Savoiardi biscuits (ladyfingers) dipped in espresso and dusted with cocoa.

Tiramisu

Tiramisu

This tiramisu is light and creamy, but packed with flavor thanks to the espresso and the layer of cocoa on top.

Side view of Tiramisu

Side view of Tiramisu

I don’t think there’s [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…]

Guest Review: Lunch at Tutto Italia Ristorante in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion

Welcome back Guest Author Katie Roth with a review from Tutto Italia Ristorante in Epcot!

My husband absolutely loves lasagna, so I knew we had to try Tutto Italia. I wasn’t convinced that it would be better than Mama Melrose’s or Via Napoli, but I was willing to give it a shot. On this particular day, we were dining at lunchtime.

Atmosphere

The décor was very fancy; dark woods everywhere, crystal chandeliers, ornate carpets, and colorful murals lining the walls. This atmosphere seemed too fancy for tank tops, shorts, and sweats.

Inside Tutto Italia!

Dining Room.

Our seating area wasn’t in the main dining room, but a smaller room that connected to the outdoor dining area.

View of Outdoor Patio.

Once we were seated, a waiter came to take our drink orders. What was very offsetting about this was the fact that he would not acknowledge my presence no matter what I did. I had to practically yell as he walking away that I wanted a Coke. Working in a male-dominated industry and going through this every day while getting my undergrad degree, I was used to it; however, I do not think behavior such as this is appropriate AT ALL in a public service driven industry. I think steam was coming out of my ears. (I’m off of my soapbox now.)

Finally, our primary waitress came to our table and took our order. She was very helpful and guided us through the menu while making suggestions to me, the non-lasagna-enthusiast. She was very nice.

Before our entrees arrived, we were treated to a [Read more…]

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…]

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…]

Guest Review: Italy Dessert & Wine Event at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Join us in welcoming guest author Michelle Buchecker with a review of the Italy Dessert and Wine tasting event at last year’s Epcot Food and Wine Festival. While we’re not sure yet if this event will be repeated at the 2012 Festival, it’s likely that it will!

Tutto Italia and Gusto Wine Cellar

We attended the Italy Dessert and Wine event that was new to the 2011 Epcot Food and Wine Festival. First and foremost, do not make the mistake we did by booking this event on the same day as your Biergarten lunch!

We had lunch at noon, and the event was at 2 pm. Not nearly enough time to digest. (Editor’s Note: I can second that!)

Atmosphere

The event was held in the back room of Tutto Italia. The check-in process went very smoothly, and we were escorted to a table that the 2 of us shared with 6 other people. There were about 50 guests in total and all chairs were taken.

The main presenter, Gabriele, was charming and humorous. He was obviously native Italian, and he took the time to introduce each course. The wine rep from Batasiolo, Jerry, mentioned that he was told to keep his comments short so we could eat and drink more. But at the beginning of each course, he did introduce each wine and described it.

Jerry warned us that all wines at the tasting were frizzante, which means they are lightly bubbly and have low alcohol content to keep it sweet.

Eats

Now on to the courses!

Dessert and Wine Menu

The first course was a Tiramisu paired with the Batasiolo Asti. I found the contents of the Tiramisu pretty basic: repeat layers of soaked ladyfingers and mascarpone topped with a cocoa dusting and chocolate curl.

The presentation was nice as this was all in a Martini glass. The Asti was sweet and crisp.

Tiramisu

The second course was Cannoli. This was huge!! While we were served utensils with it, Gabriele commented that he had to give us the knife and fork but encouraged us to eat it with our [Read more…]