What can probably only be described as the Italian Compound returns in the same location, now with a new kiosk and six registers.
Italy typically brings three new food items and a selection of wine that is so bad that they are embarrassed to admit which brand they’re serving. The website has historically panned Italy, largely because nothing is made fresh inside of the Marketplace. Thus, every dish served is wheeled over from a separate kitchen and sits in a warmer until it’s ordered.
- Crispy Calamari with Spicy Pomodoro Sauce – $8
- Spezzatino con Polenta: Beef Stew with Parmesan Creamy Polenta – $7.50
- Absolut Penne with Vodka Sauce with Shrimp – $7
- Cannoli al Cioccolato: Chocolate-covered Cannoli filled with Sweet Ricotta, Chocolate and Candied Fruit – $4.25
- Frozen Margarita with Limoncello and Tequila – $10
- Moretti Lager Beer – $5.50
- Moretti La Rossa Double Malt Beer – $5.50
Crispy Calamari with Spicy Pomodoro Sauce – $8
While the fried squid might have been crispy at some point, it probably won’t be by the time it’s served, particularly after soaking underneath the bland sauce. It’s not a terrible portion size by any means, but it’s very chewy and the batter is just sort of there. You might save your money and put it towards an order at Tutto Gusto, the very-good wine bar attached to the Tutto Italia restaurant.
Spezzatino con Polenta: Beef Stew with Parmesan Creamy Polenta – $7.50
In the back is not the most attractive dish that we’ve seen thus far, though I am sparing you the up close and personal. I’m trying to think if I’ve ever been standing outside in Florida during the summer and thought to myself, “I wish I had some hot beef stew right now,” but here we are.
And this isn’t the first time Italy has tried something like this as last year they offered “Spezzatino alla Toscana con Polenta: Tuscan-style Stew with Carrots, Mushrooms and Crispy Polenta” for $1.25 less as pictured above. But last year, there was actually more beef involved. This year’s was 90% thick, glutinous stew and corn with just a couple of bites of overcooked, stringy beef. This might be a decent option after the sun goes down in November, but I can’t really see enjoying it in this atmosphere. The fact that it was mostly mushy corn isn’t doing it any favors, either.
Absolut Penne with Vodka Sauce with Shrimp – $7
Quality here again depends on freshness, but even if you hit the equivalent of the penne lottery, this remains a pretty gummy pasta mixed in with a basic red sauce and a couple of chewy shrimp. It is a filling dish if you feel like you need to get something in your tum-tum, but you can recreate this at home with grocery store sauce without a whole lot of effort.
Cannoli al Cioccolato: Chocolate-covered Cannoli filled with Sweet Ricotta, Chocolate and Candied Fruit – $4.25
These Italian pastries are produced by the thousand and defrosted a day or two before they’re served at the Marketplace. It does benefit from being chilled though, particularly during what are still very hot afternoons. The filling is richly sweet with a few pieces of candied fruit that help brighten the flavor profile. I wouldn’t specifically stop for this, but it’s worth adding if you’re looking for a refreshing dessert in this vicinity. I thought it was far less bitter than last year.
Frozen Margarita with Limoncello and Tequila – $10
The $10 Italian Margarita (on the left) is refreshing and a good value for the money, even if the alcohol content may not be high. It’s a lot more drink for your money than the French “martinis” and has a nice tart flavor. While it’s not at all Italian, it is tasty if you’re looking for something of this variety.
Moretti Lager Beer – $5.50
Just know that I am shaking my head violently just looking at this picture.
Store price: CHEAP
Festival price: EVEN MORE EXPENSIVE THIS YEAR
ABV: WHO CARES
Value: NOT GREAT BOB
Moretti La Rossa Double Malt Beer – $5.50
La Rossa is at least 7.2% ABV, but paying $11 for what amounts to a 12-ounce draft is nuts. You could Uber to my condo, drink six bottles, Uber back to Epcot, and the cost would still be less than buying the equivalent of three drafts at Epcot. Even if I charged you twice as much as I paid for the Moretti!!!