tutto italia

So for Mother’s Day, my family took a trip back to our ancestral roots and went to Italy to celebrate the day; since the flights were iffy due to the whole volcano things still simmering, we skipped the real country and headed over to the Italy Pavilion in the World Showcase at Epcot.

The restaurant is on its second owner, the Patina Restaurant Group, who has elevated the quality of the cuisine at the restaurant albeit the service is still fairly spotty. The Patina Restaurant Group has about 60 restaurants nationwide and the owners have a belief that culinary excellence is an art form.

The interior is essentially unchanged since the park opened, with Alfredo’s anchoring the spot, with a large indoor dining area and a smaller dining room bordering the exterior seating (which is available after 6:00pm).

The menu is a traditional blend of meat, fish and pasta dishes. It is by no means a deep menu, but the offerings they provide have really been exceptional when we have dined at Tutto Italia.

Dining

We started our meal with a nice cool beverage; araiancata for the kids and a couple of beverages for mom and dad. Since we were celebrating the holiday we tried a Rossini and aPomegranate Cosmopolitan. The Rossini is Prosecco, Italy’s sparkling wine, with strawberries mashed in which made for a delightful combination of flavors. The Pomegranate Cosmopolitan made traditionally but substituting the pomegranate juice for cranberry. Both were quite light and just right for the hot day and to warm up our palettes.

For appetizers, my wife and I both ordered the same thing from the Mozzarella Bar. The Mozzarella Bar is, to quote the menu, “small appetizer choices inspired by one of Italy’s most famous ingredients, Bufala Mozzarella“. We ordered the Carciofi (artichoke hearts), drizzled with a little extra virgin olive oil and a smattering of fresh ground pepper and sea salt. This is one of our favorite dishes at the restaurant; I could have eaten another couple of plates of that and been satisfied, but chose some pasta instead.

For the entree, my wife and I chose separate items. She had the Penne Caprese, tomato, fresh mozzarella, and basil. The fresh basil and mozzarella make this meal spectacular.

While I had a simple bowl of Spaghetti which came with veal meatballs in a traditional pomodoro sauce. I like to judge a restaurant by how well it makes simple dishes. We had not been to Tutto Italia this year, so I ordered the Spaghetti to see if they were on their mark and the chef certainly was. The sauce was nice and light and the meatballs were just the right combination of flavors to complement the sauce.

The kids had the Farfalle with cream sauce, which although I did not try, they finished off rather quickly so I am assuming it was good as well.

For dessert, we had some espresso and a couple of treats. The girls ordered the gelato, which was rich and creamy as it should be.

My wife ordered the cheesecake with fresh strawberries. The presentation of all the dishes was great and the portions were also on the mark; just enough to satisfy your hunger and provide you with the strength to finish off the walk around the park.

Being an Italian kid from Jersey, I had to order the Cannoli. Again, keeping with the premise that if a restaurant can get a simple dish right, I am confident in recommending it and I was not disappointed with the Cannoli.

So that was our Mother’s Day celebration at Tutto Italia.

Wrapping it Up

I did mention the great quality of the food, but I also hinted at some service problems. Being the Walt Disney World Resort, you get used to a certain kind of quality of service, but Tutto Italia has never really lived up that reputation.

We try to dine at the Italy Pavilion at least twice a year and the service is always spotty. This visit was no different; although the staff is always friendly they are never attentive and I had to continually ask multiple times for drinks, cutlery, etc. throughout the course of the meal. I would not avoid this restaurant due to this, but be forewarned that the service can be less than spectacular.

Having stated that however, I will continue to go back to Tutto Italia due to the Carciofi alone. Dining is casual, as is practically all restaurants on property, with moderate pricing for the experience (15-$29.99 per person).  You can make reservations for Tutto Italia by calling (407) WDW-DINE or (407) 939-3463.

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