Had a chance last night to eat at La Luce at the Hilton Bonnet Creek on Disney property. For those unaware, just off Downtown Disney but nearby the entrance to Hollywood Studios there are a few upscale hotels that are not owned or managed by Disney so don't get the transportation or signage, but are on the property itself so provide a unique option. The brands there are Waldorf Astoria, Hilton and Wyndham, and include a quite nice 18 hole golf course as well.
Back to the restaurant. La Luce (pronounce Loo-chay) is from Donna Scala of Napa fame. The space is really quite georgeous and the service was amiable and professional, especially by Orlando attraction-area hotel standards. It's Italian by way of Napa with a smallish menu of very fresh and light options. A good part of the menu are word-fired pizzas which we didn't get but the ones that came out to other guests looked AMAZING and we will be returning to give them a try.
We started with an appetizer of Carpaccio which was well-seasoned and fresh, especially the arugula - I always give high marks to places who pay attention to the complimentary ingredients as well as the stars, and La Luce delivered. We also shared a fantastic salad called Fagolini Verde con Bietole which had roasted beets, green beans, fennel, avocado and a Roquefort vinaigrette. Again, we cleaned the plate and were tempted to lick it.
The Primi menu of pastas looked awesome and we were tempted by the Bis and Tris tasting options, but I had my eye on something from the Secondi so my wife went with the Raviolo con Granchio which featured a single loosely wrapped giant ravioli stuffed with Maine crab, ricotta, tarragon and mascarpone in a slightly rich bisque (yes I visited the website menu to recall the ingredients - sue me I don't take notes when I eat :) ) It was delicious and not too rich or heavy. I inhaled the Grilled Sausage and Duck Confit with a spicy white Tuscan Bean Ragu and aged balsamic sauce. It was another great option.
The wine list was great as you can imagine from a Napa-inspired place.
Now, a word of caution: this IS a hotel basically on Disney property, so you will see young ones brought along by their parents, probably too late for them to still be up. That said, the atmosphere is such that almost any parent would be uncomfortable bringing a rambunctious child into the setting, and the kids we saw were all very well-behaved and did not affect our romantic dinner for two in the slightest. But if you refuse to believe a nice meal can be eaten in the presence of children then this isn't the part of town for you.
There is a definite convention vibe, but the space is beautiful and you don't get that heavy hotel feel once you're seated. Now it doesn't feel like an independent restaurant in an old house, but you're on Disney property so what can you expect?
I have moved La Luce up near the top of my recommended list for Orlando based on last night's meal, especially for those visiting the Disney area but looking for something better than the average turkey leg or Rainforest Cafe. I put it on par with California Grill in quality but with a much more relaxed environment and diverse menu (and fewer kids)
Check it out - let us know what you thought.