It’s been a while since we visited Trattoria al Forno for dinner.
It hasn’t been a while since we visited for breakfast. That review from August is available here: http://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/trattoria-al-forno-breakfast-review-at-disneys-boardwalk/. Since that post discusses the logistics of visiting the BoardWalk area and offers a tour of the restaurant, I won’t waste your time by reiterating all of that here. My original dinner review is available here.
So if you missed breakfast or would like a lengthier refresher on the atmosphere, check out that post. And if you don’t want to read anymore and find yourself wondering if you should do breakfast or dinner, my suggestion would be breakfast. I don’t think Trattoria does enough to differentiate itself from the multitude of other Italian options in the area. Via Napoli serves the best pizza on property and is a great value if you can get three or four people to share a large pizza. Tutto Italia offers a more authentic menu in a more sublime setting. Il Mulino is your “Not Disney” choice over at the Swan/Dolphin in case The Mouse is becoming a bit grating towards the end of the trip. I’ll have a Todd English’s bluezoo review one of these days. Somebody remind me. But breakfast is inexpensive and would be done here as good or better than most other options.
On the plus side, Trattoria does offer over 100 Italian wines available by the bottle and more than 30 available by the glass.
As somebody that’s decidedly in the “tastes like wine” category, I’m a little more interested in the cocktails:
There’s some value in the Amarcord beer choices – each of those bottles would run you $10 at the store, so the markup is only about 70%. Birra Moretti is closer to $1.50 per bottle, so the markup is 400%. Since 750ml is about 25.4 ounces, you’d come away with more beer in one of the larger bottles than two of the Morettis and only pay $2 more. It’s a no-brainer.
Many of these liqueurs and apertifs are mostly unique to Trattoria though you might run into the occasional Fernet-Branca elsewhere. Perhaps at Tony’s Town Square next week.
I always wish they would title the last page, “So you brought your own, I see.”
Each person is delivered their own freshly baked ciabatta loaf served inside this precious wrapper. Oil is presented tableside and your server should ask you if you want salt and pepper added. Your answer to this question should be “yes” as it’s virtually flavorless without it. Just changing the brand that they use would go a long way to improving the quality of the meal right off the bat. The bread is good but that oil is tragic. They also have butter, which you might consider requesting if your server doesn’t ask (ours did).
I got boxed out of the $10.75 Italian Manhattan – Jim Beam Black Extra Aged Bourbon, Amaro Nonino Liqueur, and Angostura Bitters garnished with a Luxardo Gourmet Maraschino Cherry on my last visit because they were out of the liqueur. This time I successfully ordered one and it was well put together – the Amaro Nonino replaces the usual vermouth and has a more earthy flavor that offers a little extra spice. And at 35% ABV, it doesn’t do a whole lot to cut the strength of the drink. Recommended.
On strength, the $10.75 Negroni – Beefeater Gin, Campari, and Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth also comes recommended.
For sweet, I’d actually consider the $11.75 Molto Bello – A Margarita with an Italian twist, made with Patrón Silver Tequila, Caravello Limoncello, fresh Lime Juice and Agave Nectar. The limoncello and agave nectar do a nice job of covering up the taste of what now might be middle shelf tequila.
As far as changes since the opening of the restaurant in December 2014, the Mixed Greens Salad replaces a Romaine Salad; the Hand-rolled Gnocchi replace the Grilled Treviso (Italian Red Lettuce), and the Antipasto di Stagione (Seasonal Antipasto) is new.
On the Pizza front, the restaurant opened with six options and is down to four. The Roasted Wild Mushroom is at least a new description, though it sounds like it’s an amalgamation of the previous Roasted Portobello Mushroom and Truffle Cream options. The Pizza di Verdure is new and sounds a little out there, while the Smoked Prosciutto returns.
The pizza with Fennel Sausage, Salame Piccante, and House-pickled Peppers is no longer available. The Broccoli Rabe with Fennel Sausage is also gone.
Interestingly, almost every single item is the same price as when the restaurant debuted, except for the soup that is up 51 cents.
The Second Course header sees a few changes to various entrees with some items being substituted in for others, but nothing looks to be too egregious.
The Lamb Shank, which I tried on my previous visit and deemed to be “a good value” is no longer offered, of course.
The Campanelle with Green Beans, Roasted Potatoes, and Genovese Pesto is also now a Seasonal Ravioli.
This time around, we started with the $12 Venetian Mussels with Tomato-Curry Broth and Grilled Bread. It’s hard to tell because I am bad at this, but this is a serious pile – 30 maybe? And the sauce was surprisingly rich with just a touch of spice that was eased by the tomatoes. Any excess was easily mopped up with the bread, which was a substantial improvement from what they serve everyone by default. One wonders why restaurants don’t try a little harder with their bread service.
Things started getting salty with the $10 Caprese Salad with House-made Mozzarella. For the money, it was a nice large portion with two hulking balls of cheese surrounded by fresh tomato slices and a few dabs of balsamic here and there. But for some reason, there was a lot of coarse salt on top and while it did help bring out some of the subtler flavors of the cheese, it was a bit overwhelming. The vinegar may have been the smarter way to go there. Still, you can’t really fault the quality or the portion size and this was another good value.
Ordinarily I order something a little more interesting, but I wanted to compare Trattoria’s version of the $22 Chicken Breast alla Parmigiana
with fresh Pasta to the entrees of the same name served at Mama Melrose and Tony’s Town Square. I thought Trattoria’s was the best of the bunch (which may not be saying much) with a substantial chicken breast that was perhaps a bit over-breaded and over-cooked, but it did hold up nicely to the sauce and what ended up being a generous amount of parmesan cheese. I felt like they had the right idea but the execution was just a little bit off.
The dish was originally served with thicker tagliatelle noodles that were under-sauced (if that’s a thing?), at least for the typical American that is going to empty a jar of Ragu over their box of pasta at home. After cooking it first I would hope. The spaghetti that’s currently served underneath the chicken works better and the homemade sauce offers a pretty robust flavor, though in my old age I would like something a little chunkier. When I was a boy, even the hint of an onion was enough to try to flip the table.
Overall, it was a satisfying dish – plenty to eat and not unreasonably priced compared to other options in the area. Hopefully they’ll bake your chicken a minute or two less.
The $19 Roasted Wild Mushroom Pizza – with Porcini Cream Sauce, Greens, and Quattro Formaggio. Again, they have the right idea with this – the cheese coverage is solid; the cream sauce has a really rich flavor; and there’s a ton of fresh mushrooms of all sorts of shapes and sizes. But it was so salty – like if someone had turned the salt shaker over on top of it, the top fell off, and all the salt cascaded down onto the pizza. And because this had happened to this particular cast member a number of times, he was one pizza fail away from having to see about a job at Luigi’s Pizza over at Universal. Like I felt my fingers covered with salt after picking up the first slice. Other than that it was good though.
The pizzas here are otherwise sizable – plenty for two or three people to share as an appetizer or it will fill most up as an entree.
And finally, a lousy picture of the $18 Eggplant Rollatini with Pesto Ricotta filling and Marinara Sauce.
While it certainly looks the part, we found the pasta to be particularly bland and again, the main ingredient seemed to be salt with just some of the sourness from the ricotta showing through. Not “terrible” for 18 bucks, but not something you probably want to seek out.
Of course, you may be served something entirely different.
Overall, with so many other options at the various resorts and inside Epcot, I’m not sure Trattoria al Forno does anything distinctly well enough that it necessitates a visit. On the other hand, if you don’t want to venture into Epcot because it’s a Saturday during Food/Wine or don’t want to spring for park hopper tickets and you accidentally visited Hollywood Studios first, or you’re on the Disney Dining Plan and don’t want to visit the Swan/Dolphin, then Trattoria may make a lot of sense. It certainly doesn’t break the bank compared to Flying Fish and would likely be less expensive than Captain’s Grille, Cape May Cafe, or something like that. And it’s a pretty low key overall experience. I think you typically read about more service issues at Trattoria than a lot of other restaurants, but you just never know. They did have a rocky opening.