Dining Details: Wall Murals at Via Napoli in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion

It just goes to show… you can visit Disney World a million and one times (and I’ve got to be coming up close to that number ;) ), and still notice something new every time.

I’m a fan of Via Napoli in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion. Not only does it serve the best pizza in Disney World; it’s become a tradition for us.

So how is it, then, that I only noticed this incredibly cool detail on my most recent visit? OK, at least I THINK it’s a cool detail. I might be totally making it up, but I could super see Disney Imagineers doing this on purpose.

Look at this orange tree as seen through one of the restaurant’s windows.

Orange Tree outside the window

Orange Tree outside the window

And now check out the fresco painting on the wall right next to it.

Wall mural next to the window

Wall mural next to the window

Hmmmm…. Looks similar, right?

I think this may be a continuation, bringing the [Read more…]

Celebrate National Margarita Day Tomorrow, Walt Disney World Style!

We are happy to start a little early celebrating National Margarita Day tomorrow, February 22! Now, this is a holiday I can get behind!!!

If you’ve been here for any amount of time at all, then you know I lurve a good Margarita. (If you’re new here at DFB — welcome…and FYI, I love margaritas!) And some of my very favorites can be found right at Walt Disney World.

Grab some limes and tequila and let’s take a look at our must-drink margs!

Avocado Margarita at La Cava del Tequila

The AguacateAvocado Margarita — from La Cava del Tequila has been one of my very favorites from the first time I sampled it!

It’s a wonderful, made-to-order concoction that blends Avocado, Lime Juice, White Tequila, and Melon Liqueur for a flavor that’s like no other!

Avocado Margarita

Avocado Margarita

My favorite thing about this drink is the perfect balance of the creamy consistency with a sweet flavor — not to mention the tequila :-). A little Agave Nectar and the liqueur balance the flavors nicely.

And thanks to an awesome reader, you and I can even make this one at home today with this recipe, and celebrate this holiday in style!

Blood Orange Margarita at Flying Fish Cafe

Blood Orange is one of my favorite flavors. After all, with the complex, less sweet, almost bitter taste it imparts, it’s a little more interesting than plain old orange…orange.

And it’s especially delicious when paired with other flavors in a margarita. We’ve enjoyed versions of this festive cocktail at San Angel Inn Ristorante, but my favorite one can be found at Flying Fish Cafe.

Blood Orange Margarita

Blood Orange Margarita

If you’re anything like me, if you order this, it’ll be gone pretty quickly! SO good!

Italian Margarita at Via Napoli

One thing that you can count on at Disney when it comes to food and drink is a fun, fusion approach to some of your favorites. Case in point: the Italian Margarita in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion!

I first discovered this delicious drink at Via Napoli, the Italy Pavilion’s fantastic spot for pizza.

Italian Margarita

Italian Margarita

But it’s proven to be so popular, it’s also been available at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival in recent years! And fortunately, you can still order it at Italy’s Gelato Stand.

Italian Margarita at the Food and Wine Festival's Italy Booth!

Italian Margarita at the Food and Wine Festival’s Italy Booth!

Flavored with a smooth combination of [Read more…]

Tips From the DFB Guide: Secret, Must-Have Orders That Aren’t On Any Menu…

OK, here’s where it gets good.

dfb2015_guide_3d

I love showing you guys pictures of what you can get at Disney restaurants. It’s the best way for you to judge for yourself whether or not you think a restaurant is right for you.

But sometimes I just gotta share a few secrets that I’ve discovered. Things that aren’t actually ON the menu, exactly, but that are truly worth getting and trying.

And today, I’m sharing another great tip from the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World DiningOrdering “Off the Menu” Items in Walt Disney World Restaurants.

And if you like what you see here, there are a lot more where these came from! To see our whole list of must-have “off the menu” items for 2015, pick up your copy of the Guide today for $4 off using code 2015 right here!

Spicy Tomato Butter at Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano

Recently, we’ve been enjoying some truly incredible meals at Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano. This quirky eatery in Disney’s Hollywood Studios has plenty of traditional Italian fare on offer, but they can also surprise with a creative twist or two.

Strip Steak

Mama Melrose Makes an Incredible Steak and Mac and Cheese Combo!

During my last couple of visits, I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy their Spicy Tomato Butter! You’ll find this amazing sauce on their Oak-Fired Mussels, but if you’re not interested in ordering said Mussels, consider requesting some of the Spicy Tomato Butter with your bread.

Bread with Butters and Olive Oil

Bread with Spicy Tomato Butter and Other Accompaniments

And I’m so glad I asked the server for this “off the menu” request, because that butter is incredible! Spicy, savory, and rich, it’s delicious served with bread.

In fact, on one recent visit, the server actually brought it to me slightly melted, like a dipping sauce! Heaven.

Cranberry Sauce at Liberty Tree Tavern

Have you had the pleasure of enjoying dinner at Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom? If not, what are you waiting for?? ;-)

Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom

Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom

And if so, then you know that part of what makes it so awesome is that it looks a lot like America’s favorite meal — a Thanksgiving Day Feast!

Roast Pork, Turkey, and Beef with Cornbread Stuffing and Chutney at Liberty Tree Tavern

Roast Pork, Turkey, and Beef with Cornbread Stuffing and Chutney at Liberty Tree Tavern

But there is one key ingredient missing when they bring the family-style dishes to your table; the meal doesn’t automatically include Cranberry Sauce. And I don’t know about you, but it just isn’t Turkey Day without that little gem on the table.

Cranberry Sauce at Liberty Tree Tavern

Cranberry Sauce at Liberty Tree Tavern

But never fear — they have Cranberry Sauce — and it’s pretty fantastic! You just have to request it. It seems that not all guests love it as much as you and I, so it ended up being thrown out quite a lot of the time.

So order it with abandon if you like a little Cranberry Sauce on the side of your meal — they’re happy to bring it to you, included in the cost of the meal!

Fried Mozzarella at Via Napoli

Speaking of Liberty Tree Tavern, they used to have a wonderful Tavern Fried Cheese Appetizer that included Deep Fried Cheese Curds. They were out of this world.

Sadly, you can’t get them in the Colonial American-themed spot — but I DID find something similar at [Read more…]

Disney Food Pics of the Week: Some Favorite Fried Appetizers

It’s time for Disney Food Pics of the Week!

We’re all trying to eat better for us these days, right? But still, every once in a while, it’s fun to indulge a little! Today, we’re taking a look at some of the great photos that you’ve shared with us on Disney Food Blog Photo Extravaganza, our Flickr page, as we highlight some of our Favorite Fried Appetizers!

Pommes Frites at Cafe Orleans

Photographer: Daniel Staten

One of my top spots to eat in all of Disneyland is Cafe Orleans! And when I’m there, I can’t resist having all of my favorites — their Monte Cristo Sandwich, Mickey-Shaped Beignets — and of course, Pommes Frites with Remoulade for dipping! They’re outta this world!! (Kudos to Daniel for getting two sauces; good choice!)

Pommes Frites from Disneyland's Cafe Orleans

Pommes Frites from Disneyland’s Cafe Orleans

Fritto Misto at Via Napoli

Photographer: Tana Murphy

Whenever we are in the mood for pizza at Disney, it’s time to head to Via Napoli in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion. But they also have some amazing appetizers as well. Their Fritto Misto Platter is an assortment of Fried Cheese, Arancini, Veggies, and Calamari and is served with Pomodoro Piccante Sauce. I LOVE this platter.

Fritto Misto at Epcot's Via Napoli

Fritto Misto at Epcot’s Via Napoli

Wok Fried Green Beans at Yak and Yeti Restaurant

Photographer: Roger Weeks

Looking for something just a touch [Read more…]

Epcot Food and Wine Festival Review: Italian Food and Beer Pairing Lunch at Via Napoli

We are less than one month from the start of the 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival and it will be here before you know it!

food and wine festival logo

Today, we are anticipating some of our favorite Special Events. While we love the Marketplace Booths and Low-Cost Demonstrations and Seminars, it’s fun to splurge once in a while on a few of the Special Events, culinary experiences that take place throughout the festival.

Much is made of wine — after all, this is a food and wine festival. But in recent years, Epcot has expanded its offerings to lovers of cocktails and beer as well.

The opportunity to try craft beers and brews from all around the globe is especially exciting. So let’s take a closer look today at one of the events that is especially geared toward beer lovers — The Italian Food and Beer Pairing Lunch.

Italian Food and Beer Pairing Lunch at Epcot’s Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria

I attended this event during its inaugural year. While the food was delicious and the beer servings were generous, we were disappointed by the event format. It was basically a luncheon with none of the presentation or explanation that we’ve come to expect with these types of events.

We were anxious to try again though, and last year I was able to attend the event again.

Italian Beers and Bottles

Italian Beers and Bottles

We arrived at Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria a little early for the event. That’s always a good idea so that you can scope out the venue — especially at a place that is still functioning as a regular restaurant while the event is going on. It’s not always easy to find the registration desk for the event versus the regular check-in line for the restaurant!

While I’ve had trouble with this particular distinction at Via Napoli before (they usually have people check in for the Food and Wine events at the regular check-in desk), on this visit they had the registration desk separate.

Arriving for the Event

Arriving for the Event

That said, the sign was a little confusing. Apparently, it’s doing double-duty for both the Beer Pairings and the Wine Pairings. Our event included only beer; there isn’t a combo event, for those of you who are wondering. :-)

We were greeted by one of the managers, who showed us to the area where the event would take place.

Presenter Guy

Via Napoli’s Manager Greeted Guests

We found our tables set with all of the glassware that we’d need for four courses. There was also fresh Bread with Olive Oil for dipping to get us started. Note that seating seemed to be assigned at this event. I’ve found that to be the case at more and more food and wine events these days.

The Table is Set

The Table is Set

Individual menus made for handy references throughout the meal and great souvenirs after it was complete.

Place Setting

Place Setting

Before we got started, I had a few moments to acquaint myself with the other guests seated at my table (another good reason to arrive a bit early!). I also had a chance to look over the menu.

Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Menu — Click to Enlarge

It seems that the Italy Culinary team have gotten the memo; our event included [Read more…]

Disney Food Pics of the Week: Pizza!

We’re back with more Disney Food Photo fun today, thanks to our awesome contributors on Disney Food Blog Photo Extravaganza — our Flickr page!

While there aren’t many, we have found a few excellent spots to grab a Pizza at Walt Disney World. And it looks like you have, too! So today, let’s take a look at some of your mouth-watering pizza shots. Get ready to crave. :-)

Pizza Carciofi from Via Napoli

Photographer: Janet Sala

The very last time I was at Via Napoli in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion, one of my friends tried Pizza Carciofi and gave it rave reviews. The vegetarian white pizza features Fontina cheese, truffle oil, and artichokes for a fantastic flavor punch.

Pizza Carciofi from Via Napoli

Pizza Carciofi from Via Napoli

Meatball Pizza from Wolfgang Puck Express

Photographer: Kelly Tressler

Before Via Napoli appeared on the Epcot horizon a few years back, [Read more…]

The Best (and the Worst!) Pizza in Disney World

Ahhhh…Pizza. Most of us love the stuff, whether it’s high end, low end, or homemade.

bestandworstpizzaindisneyworld

But one thing’s for sure — you and I both know that not all pizza is created equal — and this is definitely true when it comes to Disney.

Today, we’re awarding some Pizza Pie Superlatives. From Best to Worst and Everything In Between, let’s take a look at a few.

And when we’re finished with the awards, I’ve love to hear if you agree! Leave us a comment with your best and worst!

Best All-Around Pizza in Disney World

If you’ve been reading Disney Food Blog for any amount of time, the winner in this category will come as no shock to you. The hands-down best pizza in all of Disney World are the pies you find at Via Napoli in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion.

With authentic ingredients right down to the flour, tomatoes, and water they use, these are some serious pies that come closest to the real deal from Naples, Italy. They also taste the most like my favorite New York Style pizza (Lombardi’s!!!!) — the gold standard, as far as I’m concerned!

Quattro Fromaggi Pizza from Via Napoli

Quattro Fromaggi Pizza from Via Napoli

You can’t go wrong with any of the pizzas you order here, whether you’re getting a personal size, or you’re sharing with the table.

Build Your Own Pizza with Prosciutto

Build Your Own Pizza with Prosciutto (and/or Other Ingredients…Whatever)

We give high marks to the Quattro Formaggi White Pizza, as well as the Build Your Own with Prosciutto. But really, there are no wrong choices here!

Worst Disney World Pizza

When it comes to pizza that you can safely — no, you definitely should — skip, we’ll chalk this up to… [Read more…]

Top 5 Ways to Get Your Veggies at Walt Disney World

I  know, I know. It’s the new year and you’re really trying to fit in your five servings of fruit and veggies every day, right? Well, I’m here to help you stick to that goal — even when you’re vacationing in Disney World!

Here are my top 5 ways to get my veggie servings in Disney World… . Don’t forget to take notes.

Jalapeño, Avocado, and Cucumber Margaritas at La Cava del Tequila

One of my favorite ways to get my veggies comes with a healthy dose of tequila. That’s right, Friends. We’re heading to Mexico — in Epcot, that is — to La Cava del Tequila.

Seating in La Cava del Tequila

La Cava del Tequila in Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion

Because that’s where you can get some of the green stuff via their Handmade Margaritas. (Yep, that’s right. None of that pre-made, swirling in the slushie machine stuff for you here.)

The Avacado Margarita is one of our favorites!

Avocado Margarita in Epcot's Mexico

Avocado Margarita in Epcot’s Mexico

If you like a teensy bit of zip, go for the Jalapeño Margarita, which features tiny pieces of the peppers right in the mix.

Jalapeno Margarita at La Cava del Tequila

Jalapeño Margarita at La Cava del Tequila

Another refreshing option is the Cucumber Margarita.

cucumber margarita

Cucumber Margarita

Fans of this unusual choice swear by it. It’s like a spa treatment in a glass! With tequila!

Pizza at Via Napoli

Savvy parents have been sneaking veggies into stubborn kids’ food since the dawn of the food pyramid, I figure. And now, I think we should take a page from their book and visit Via Napoli in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion. Because who doesn’t love Pizza?

You guys — you know I think their pizza is totes the BEST. Ever. But hey, who says the best ever can’t have a few healthy benefits?

On our last visit, we tried several pies, including the luxurious Pizza Carciofi. Doesn’t “Artichoke” sound so much more appealing in Italian? This gorgeous pie also features Truffle Oil. So that’s got to count for a serving too, I’m thinking.

Pizza Carciofi

Pizza Carciofi at Via Napoli in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion

Or you can skip the pizza and have your [Read more…]

Tips from the DFB Guide: Expert Reviews of Walt Disney World Restaurants

Ever wonder where to eat on your next Walt Disney World vacation? Are you a veteran visitor looking for somewhere different to dine? Or perhaps your family will be first-time visitors and you’re just trying to figure out your options?

where to eat in disney world

Yep, we’ve been there too! Countless restaurants and ever-changing menus keep us all wondering where to dine when visiting Disney World! Whether you are just seeking sustenance or long for a memorable meal — knowing ALL of your options is key to making the best dining choices for your family.

We understand that you have budget considerations and differing palates to contend with — and finding the right restaurant for your group may seem daunting. What you need are — restaurant reviews!

Our recommendations will provide you the information needed to make the most informed dining picks for your family! We’ve taste-tested many items for you! And after years of eating at Walt Disney World restaurants, we also tell you about the service and atmosphere.

In our The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining 2014 e-Book, we have mini-reviews of EVERY Disney World restaurant. Pick up your copy here for an extra $4 off using code 2014 for a limited time!

With our comprehensive DFB Guide, you’ll learn which character meals are our favorites — and where to find the best treats. Don’t dine without reading our reviews!

Counter Service Restaurants

Let’s dig in to the comprehensive listing of counter service restaurants that we’ve included in the DFB Guide to share with you our opinions of quick service spots.

And our reviews are completely honest. We’ve had some less than stellar eats at Electric Umbrella in Epcot, however in our mini-review, we acknowledge that the Vegetarian Flatbread was a hit. And we’d definitely return for another one!

We recommend the Veggie Flatbread at Electric Umbrella!

We recommend the Veggie Flatbread at Electric Umbrella!

Snack Kiosks

When you’re busy touring Walt Disney world and need a quick snack (yes, it happens to us, too!), choosing the right pick-me-up is key. Don’t waste [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…]