Primavera Kitchen might be sporting a new look hanging out by the water, but Italy is decidedly up to their old tricks. Only this year, they bring four new food items instead of three.
Last year’s trio came in at a paltry $18.50 and in something that almost never happens, the Meatball Parmigiana was really good. This year’s food total is $32.50, though it could just as easily be 50 billion dollars and the advice would be the same: Don’t pay it.
I’m just glad that we won’t have to ensure any of that pesky positivity this year. I won’t stand for it!
Frittata di Asparagi: Asparagus Frittata, Mixed Greens and Citrus Dressing – $7
As I stood in line contemplating the many wrong turns that I must have made in life to find myself in this position, the gentleman in front of me was attempting to return his frittata using words like “gross” and “want a refund” and “can’t believe it’s taking this long” as the cast members scrambled behind the register to find a manager that could approve such a transaction. They were speaking in Italian, of course, I’m assuming saying things like, “you bought egg at a Festival in Italy” and “what did you expect.” And they probably have a point. Primavera Kitchen is more like “Primavera Chafing Dish” in that unlike a lot of the other Outdoor Kitchens, nothing but sadness and despair are created inside its humble confines. It’s hard to say how the Italian chefs came up with reheated egg topped with salad to lead off the menu. The question might have been, “What do we know we can’t pull off?” Or, perhaps, “What tastes worse if you make it one day and then serve it another day.” Alas, “wet” is not the word you want to use when describing eggs and that’s exactly what we have here mixed in with overcooked, bitter shreds of asparagus and greens overdressed in sour lime juice. You might put your egg budget towards a quiche in France. At Les Halles, you can pick one up with ham and gruyere for less money. Needless to say, once my new friend received his refund and moved on to tastier pastures, I proceeded to the register and said, “Lemme get one of those frittatas I’ve heard so much about.”
Value: Not great, Bob
Fritto Misto: Crispy Shrimps, Zucchini and Spicy Sauces – $8
A humble offering to the Festival gods. They didn’t accept.
Honestly, the only thing worse than the food here is the photography. What was I thinking taking a picture of the side of a brown paper tray balancing precariously on a thin railing? Really captures the moment.
Anyway, you get about ten small, lightly-breaded, incredibly salty shrimp that don’t taste like a whole lot considering the drizzle of sauce is consumed almost entirely by the zucchini rods. They’re at best forgettable, though quite shareable and the portion is pretty decent for the money. The zucchini would have had a nice snap to it if it was freshly prepared, but the breading had lost a lot of its crunch and the vegetable slices inside fell limp. An above average outing for Italy.
Ravioli: Maine Lobster Ravioli with Vodka Sauce – $12
$12 is a bold price point and may be the most expensive Flower/Garden/Food/Wine dish that we’ve ever seen, though the Arts and Holiday Festivals see some pricier options these days as well. It also doesn’t qualify as a snack credit on the Disney Dining Plan, which is actually Italy doing you a solid as you might be tricked into ordering a round if it was going to cost you the same amount as a bottle of water or queso cup. Also of note: if you heard someone cackling with laughter in the vicinity of the Italy Pavilion at 1:08pm yesterday, then we experienced the first look at these ravioli together.
The ravioli sit in a bath of the thin sauce that had separated into equal parts butter, fat, and water underneath the hard, slimy pasta shells. I’m not sure if they were expecting the ravioli to cook for a couple of minutes in the sun while we all took our selfies or it was determined that they would disintegrate in the broth if they were cooked any more, but cutting into them required a knife. The filling itself was oily mush and tasted like if you were somehow able to add enough sugar to the ocean to make the water sweet. There are two pea sprouts and a half of two different tomatoes, at least. Maybe we can take them home and grow a garden to recoup some of the $12 cost. The red caviar adds a pop of color and a salty sea flavor to the dish, but it doesn’t really complement anything. They could have left it off and conned a lot of people into using a snack credit for a $9 dish.
Panna Cotta al Melone: Cantaloupe Panna Cotta – $5.50
At this point, I stopped taking pictures because I was laughing so hard at the $12 ravioli that I was convulsing underneath the table, which actually helped shake some of the crumbs off since Disney literally never wipes them clean. So this is our picture of the Panna Cotta cup in the middle and the Bellini in the back. The texture on the chilled dessert was unpleasant for some of the more novice members of our group that had only suffered through three or four different versions of the Italy menu. I actually thought there was some improvement, though the layer of gel on top wasn’t helping things. But if you like the artificial flavor of cantaloupe sweetened up with the Stevia factory then this may be the dessert for you. I was assuming it was around $4.25. $5.50 is rough, even for Italy.
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.
I could see stopping for the Bellini or Margarita if the line is short, and hopefully it will be because nobody will be spending any money here, but the food doesn’t have much to offer. That’s a shame because I awarded 19 Taste points to just two of Italy’s offerings last year. Combined, this year’s four items receive a total of seven points. That’s not good. Since we’re surrounded by above options at however you spell Bauernmarkt and The Smokehouse, I’m not sure I’d risk $7+ here. But this is still America. Do your worst.
Italy already did.