This weekend I took my mom to Epcot and treated her to the new restaurant at the Italy pavilion (aren’t I a great daughter).
I was pretty underwhelmed by the experience, overall. The ambiance was nice, although the restaurant itself was fairly empty.
To start, we had the Arancini (risotto balls stuffed with a piece of cheese and then deep fried). I’m not sure how they managed it, but these things were incredibly dry, flavorless balls. The Marinara Sauce underneath had more flavor. If it wasn’t for the grated cheese on the table, it would really have been completely hopeless. By the way, the grated cheese was not from a cardboard container. This stuff was really tasty and had small chunks from where it had not been grated finely. Really good & unexpected. Anyway, the table next to us ordered the fried calamari (coated in cornmeal, served with a spicy sauce), and it looked really good. The couple who ordered it confirmed that they were indeed yummy. I regret declining to taste one when it was offered.
Next came our salad, served “home-style,” which only meant it was served in one big bowl. It was ok, if a little dry. There were mixed greens, marinated mushrooms, peperoncini, cucumbers, and tomatoes.
Finally, our pizza arrived. Now, they tout these things as being super special. The water is a certain pH, the flour is imported, the tomatoes are from Italy, the cheese is fresh, real basil, etc. I gotta say, the pizza we ordered (Margarita – tomatoes, basil, mozzarella cheese) was pretty good with a thin, crispy crust and fresh tasting. We ordered the large (which was supposed to feed 2-3), but that pie was so large, it could have easily fed 4 (the” individual” was more appropriate for 2 people). I’m not sure what I was expecting, but after all the hype, I guess I was kinda hoping for something “more.” I can’t tell you what that “more” was supposed to be, but it wasn’t there that night. Don’t get me wrong. The pizza was good. But, honestly, I don’t usually drop $27 for a pizza at Epcot when there are so many other different kinds of dishes I can order instead. In all fairness, they had other options as well. The table next to us ordered lasagna and spaghetti with meatballs. When we asked how the dishes were, they simply said “Meh, it’s ok, nothing great,” which pretty much summed up our experience.
For dessert, we had the vanilla gelato sundae with cherries, sour cherry syrup, and “ugly cookies.” Again, it was “ok,” but nothing to get excited about. The cherries were imported from Italy, the syrup was homemade, and the cookies were these marble-sized balls, kind of like Amaretti cookies, but vanilla flavored. You would think that this combination would be delicious and different. Unfortunately, the dish had only 3 cookies, about 2 tablespoons of syrup, and 2 cherries for the entire sundae. It ended up making the sundae taste mildly cherry-flavored (oddly like cough syrup), with very little crunch factor.
To sum up, I’d say it’s ok to visit once, just to see for yourself what all the hype is about, but don’t go expecting some gastronomic revelation. Also try these tips: order the “individual” size if it’s a small party, order the salad with extra dressing OTS as a side to the pizza (its $4 less, but a minimum of 2 people have to order it), try the calamari if you have a huge appetite, and finally, skip dessert and get the fresh gelato outside where its $3 cheaper and you get more in the cup.
Hope this helps!!!