We continue from The Smokehouse.
As is Italy’s glorious tradition, they bring us four new items this year, I’m guessing in part because nobody ever orders anything twice. Fortunately for our pocketbooks, the food items actually total 50 cents less than last year, so we’re paying 1.6% less money for what I’m sure will be an infinite amount of deliciousness. We’ll try to take that into consideration when assessing value.
Two years ago, Italy served just three items for $18.50.
Above is last year’s $32.50 extravaganza. Those two Ravioli cost $12.
And above is this year’s haul. People make fun of me for my trashcan photos, but the trashcans are constantly sanitized throughout the day – something you probably can’t say for this table. At least it makes the $32 worth of food really pop.
Pizza Toscana: Rustic Italian Flatbread with Sweet Sausage, Caramelized Onion, Mozzarella, Asiago and Parmesan Cheeses – $8
I’m not entirely sure why we’re holding on to this pizza, considering the fact that we would all be spared a lot of pain if it flew away in the wind. But I felt bad for the ducks and other wildlife that would inevitably eat it and then have to decide if they were angrier at me for doing this to them or the Italy booth for serving the food in the first place. I don’t need some coordinated bird pooping campaign when I’m trying to convince the group that we can just skip Mexico this year because nobody will probably notice.
Anyway, this actually tasted pretty good. The Flatbread was soft with a nice chew and the toppings were on the generous side with a nice layer of melted cheese, plenty of crispy, sweet onions, and a nice smattering of sweet and spicy sausage that may have been from Jimmy Dean’s slightly-Italian cousin. Eight bucks for two small slices is on the spendy side considering there aren’t any particularly expensive ingredients going on here. There’s no sauce for that matter, either. If you have to pick up a savory item at Primavera Kitchen, I’d make it this one, though. That isn’t saying much.
Value: Not great, Bob
Pomodori Verdi e Mozzarella: Fried Green Tomatoes, Mozzarella Cheese, Balsamic Reduction — $8
There’s a much better Fried Green Tomatoes dish at the Arbor/Odyssey Building this year. Italy’s Tomatoes suffer from a really thick batter that isn’t crispy enough to hold up to all of the juices from the fruit/vegetable. Worse, the slices of Mozzarella are gritty and overpowered by the tremendous amount of Balsamic that isn’t helping the sogginess situation. Nobody in our party enjoyed this.
Tri-Colored Cheese Tortellini, Sage Butter, and Chicken Veloute — $9
You’d have a tough time convincing me that these aren’t frozen tortellini provided by something like US Foods with about ten pieces of the ring-shaped pasta served for the nine dollar ask. The good news is that they’re prepared to a nice al dente, which may be a little under-cooked for those that prefer pasta that’s a little less chewy. We didn’t get a lot of flavor from the Sage Butter, but it did help the sprinkling of fresh cheese stick to the pasta. I think most people see Chicken Veloute and expect a real chicken presence, particularly considering the price, but it just refers to the chicken stock in the Mother Sauce. Overall, they taste good, but I don’t think they do enough to command a price point much higher than most other dishes.
Zeppole: Ricotta Cheese Fritters, Powdered sugar, Raspberry Sauce and Chocolate-hazelnut Drizzle — $7
These Zeppole hail straight from Via Napoli inside the Pavilion and are fried-up fresh inside the booth. The Fritters enjoy an airy, pillow-y softness with a light and crispy fried exterior. The Chocolate-hazelnut sauce adds a delicious, rich nuttiness to the flavor profile before the Fritters are dipped into the sweet, fresh-tasting berry sauce. Seven dollars “feels” like a fair price to pay for six or seven sizable donuts. I haven’t been this un-mad at an Italian offering since the Meatballs they served here from Tutto Gusto a couple of years ago. Hopefully, Italy will focus on bringing over a couple more favorites from around the Pavilion in the future.
Bellini: Sparking Wine and Peach Purée – $10
It’s somehow a good thing that the Bellini(s) are pre-mixed for the Festival. It was actually really refreshing this year with fresh, vibrant peach flavors. I have no idea how.
Frozen Italian Margarita with Limoncello and Tequila – $10
The Italian Margarita is actually a good option on the frozen drink front – it’s a huge portion compared to the small cups you’ll get at the Disney-operated booths and the slush is well balanced between sweet and sour flavors.
Don’t get the beer or wine. The small pours on the wine almost always cost more than an entire bottle from the store and while the Peroni isn’t Moretti, $5.50 is a ridiculous price to pay for a six-ounce cup, at least a third of which will end up being foam.
I’d consider a stop here for the delicious Zeppole and you might add an Italian Margarita to the mix if you’re in the mood. For a snack credit, you might consider a $9 plate of Tortellini, but they’re on the verge of being highway robbery if you’re paying out of pocket.
This is actually an up year for the Pavilion. Consider taking advantage!