In my opinion, Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano in Disney’s Hollywood Studios has always been hit or miss.
But on my last two visits, it was exceptional. I couldn’t wait to re-visit another year later and see if that was still the case. And, I gotta say, this place is still a hidden gem. I would, in all honestly, choose this restaurant over several signature restaurants on Disney property right now. Let’s take a look at the details.
When we arrived for a late night advance dining reservation during an Extra Magic Hours night, Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano was teeming with hungry guests. You get a sense of Mama’s random story before you ever enter the doors. The Mona Lisa, wearing shades, in front of the Hollywood Sign? Yeah, I don’t get it either.
The flimsy “backstory” unfolds: Mama was once an aspiring actress who began to cook her traditional dishes for friends while she was trying to become a star. Her dreams of acting fame may have faded, but she found another route into the hearts of the masses — her cooking. And Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano was born.
Even if the backstory still doesn’t make any sense to me after all this time, that doesn’t mean the restaurant isn’t kind of fun to look around. It’s a mix of old world meets Hollywood…and every year that goes by means Mama’s decor becomes even more antiquated.
One of my favorite touches is the wall-o-1980s-stars. These headshots crack me up! It’s like a who’s who of the year the Studios opened. (I always have to scout out Mary Fran.)
Other decor elements feature kitschy goodies from Mama’s collection.
More chances to look for your favorite late 20th century actors await you at the restroom entrance. And check out this guy we saw above the doorway…
These little Olafs-on-a-stick are part of the Frozen promotion in Hollywood Studios! Guess someone thought he’d be right at home here on a gondola?
Walk through the large arch and past the kitchen, and the restaurant opens before you. Be sure to peek at the pizza oven as you walk by!
Once you’re in the dining area, pause to take a look around. The walls are covered with some fun stuff, including tons of albums. That’s right, kids — [Read more…]