We continue on from Hops and Barley.
It’s best to keep your distance from the kiosk. Also, note that this review is pure nonsense until after the menu picture. Even more than usual. Skip ahead to the food if you dare.
Italy and comedy rhyme. I wasn’t sure if the same could be said about their Italian equivalents. Interested, I inquired at the register, and Bailey from Milwaukee answered politely in between the beeping of my various credit cards getting declined that “comedy” in Italian is “commedia,” and Italy is, of course, “Italia.” So it seems like we’re in the rhyming business regardless of language. This got me to wondering just how much work the Phoenicians really put into this supposed original alphabet. Hi, bye, why, sigh, rye, my, water supply, intensify. This doesn’t seem all that difficult.
I imagine some guy in Phoenicia day drinking down at the dock, maybe 4,500 years ago, and as a new vessel approached, he would yell out “BUONGIORNO” a la Brad Pitt in Inglorious. If they didn’t reply back with a similar greeting, he would just assign them the next set of letters on his chart, so they could at least get close to being able to communicate at the next port. The Polish must have been late to the party, which is why only a handful of consonants were left to make up their language. But we all work with what we’ve got, and in the Italy booth’s defense, that’s basically two old microwaves and a handshake agreement with Ragu forged back in 2009, when we probably all had bigger aspirations before eventually giving up and getting in line.
Since EPCOT is the only place you can learn anything these days, I’ve always held the Phoenicians in high regard. The narration on Spaceship Earth demands our thanks, even if there is some question as to whether the collection of city-states were a distinct nationality. Phoenicia would eventually fall to Alexander the Great during what historians refer to as the Hellenistic period of 332–152 BC. “Hellenistic” doesn’t sound too far off from where we are now, so it seems like we might want to start looking over our shoulders, just in case Alexander rolls through again. I doubt our day-drinking, letter-assigning friend on the dock of the bay expected his civilization to come to an imminent end, only to become Lebanon and have Jon Hamm later star in a movie about yet another civil war in the Mediterranean.
But things seem fine – not like we’re on the edge of a cliff or sliding slowly into the ocean or anything. I’ve been trying to saw through Florida for years. Why else would a liberal Jew from the Pacific Northwest be here for so long? So the United States will probably always exist, even if every other civilization has fallen in due time. There won’t be some sarcastic blogger in the future wondering if America really ate this many microwaved chicken nuggets in the shape of various dinosaurs, before giving our sacred U.S.A. booth a 1/10 on value. Well, yes, dinosaur-shaped meat is the food of my people. We go so far as to eat them in dinosaur-themed restaurants named T-Rex at Disney Springs, which seems kind of rude now that you mention it. Just put the malformed chicken on a paper plate and microwave it for 90 seconds. That’s a 10/10 on taste and a perfect representation of our culture. Thank you.
Growing up, a microwave is one of the few toys I had. I think it was supposed to be plastic and come with colorful pieces of plastic food that a young boy might pretend to cook, but my parents were cheap, and just gave me my grandparents’ old machine. It was a 700-watt General Electric Microconvection, with the woodgrain cabinet, because we’re classy. I’m not sure if my parents thought it was smart to let a child play with what they thought was a broken microwave, but I can assure you that auto-roast still worked just fine as long as you set it to 50% power or less. A lot of this website’s content, and a myriad of interpersonal problems dating back to the ’90s, can probably be blamed on putting my head in that microwave. Why else would we suffer through these reviews, trying to come up with fourteen different ways to call pasta, “crusty?” Which rhymes with “croccante,” the Italian equivalent. Oh, Phoenicia. If only you had tried a little harder, maybe you would have lasted a little longer than 2,500 years. America is only like 10% as old, so we should have some time on precedent alone.
If they ever do refurbish Spaceship Earth, hopefully some of this will be explained in the narration, with a little less emphasis on the pity that is the tax system…you know…to pay for infrastructure so we have working roads that will take us as far away from the Italy booth as we can get. Of course, as a corporation myself, I don’t pay anything in taxes. That seems like something other people should do. I’ll stimulate the economy the same way I always do – by purchasing this year’s version of Madden Football on PlayStation, even if the box literally says, “nothing but a roster update and increased microtransactions.” The rest of my cash is saved up inside my microwave, destined for the Italy booth, and taken out to spend three to five times per year.
Since nobody ever orders anything from Italy twice, we’re burdened with a brand new food menu, as we are at every Festival. And yes, those are the actual prices. And no, we’re not going to be happy about it.
I opened with a brief discussion of jokes because there is always something funny going on in the booth. Here, we see the ingredients for our $13 pasta dish in an industrial-size box of the same “KEEP FROZEN” pasta you could buy at the grocery store, a sealed bag of at least ten pounds of pre-cooked bacon, and whatever horrors lay underneath inside that box.
Let’s get to it.
- Mezzelune Croccanti: Crispy Half-moon Breaded Mozzarella-filled Ravioli with Pomodoro Sauce – $12
- Ravioli: Grilled Chicken Ravioli with Alfredo Sauce, Romano Cheese, and Prezzemolo – $13
- Bomboloni: Cream-filled Italian Doughnut with Raspberry Sauce and Powdered Sugar – $11
- Italian White Sangria with Prosecco – $11
- Italian Red Sangria with Cabernet Sauvignon – $11
- (Long) Prosecco – $10
- Banfi Rosa Regale – $11
- Peroni Pilsner — $6 or $10
- Italian Margarita with Limoncello and Tequila – $11
Mezzelune Croccanti: Crispy Half-moon Breaded Mozzarella-filled Ravioli with Pomodoro Sauce – $12
I’ll level with you. If I was blind drunk; and spent my days unable to communicate with sailing merchant after sailing merchant; only to drive my entire civilization into extinction; I might take a second bite of one of these Ravioli, which I assume are “hosted by” Rubbermaid this year. I would then throw the limp pasta, fried-sometime-ago, in a pavilion far far away, vaguely back in your general direction. Then I would assign your sad little empire only the letters “c”, “z,” “r,” and “q” to make up your language before casting you off into the ocean. If these were fried pieces of Juicy Fruit, I think they would be less gummy, and we might actually appreciate some of the grit that covers the disappointingly soft crust. The five pieces get soggier as they sit in a puddle of reddish oil that looks to be separating from what little tomato is involved. I wouldn’t get these again if they were free. But at $12, they’re among the priciest dishes at the Festival. They will satisfy (some) kids and the simplest of palates, but good lord are they terrible in every language.
Ravioli: Grilled Chicken Ravioli with Alfredo Sauce, Romano Cheese, and Prezzemolo – $13
This is basically foamy dried soap scum clinging to old pasta and topped unnervingly with an uneven sprinkling of herbs that we can only hope are poisonous, lest we live to see another dish. The pasta itself is pretty good when adequately prepared – I’ve been known to buy the same thing in little packages when they’re BOGO at Publix. There’s plenty of cheese and creamy chicken stuffed in there. But knowing that they’re exactly the same thing, it’s impossible to justify the $13 price, particularly when they’re not fresh. We’re now $25 in, which is more than the Fettuccini entrée inside the Tutto Italia sit-down restaurant. Somebody should be arrested.
Value: NOT GREAT BOB.
Bomboloni: Cream-filled Italian Doughnut with Raspberry Sauce and Powdered Sugar – $11
These were actually pretty good if you ignore the fact that they’re about an inch wide and the three pieces cost almost $4 each. The dough enjoys a light, airy crispiness, and the decadent cream is brightened with the fruity flavors of the natural-tasting raspberry sauce. There is still no way I would order them again should the opportunity arise. You have a choice. I don’t. If they were $6. Maybe. If you got five of them; we’d be getting warmer. But as it stands:
Italian White Sangria with Prosecco – $11
I’m either allergic to money or sense at this point, but here we are eleven dollars later with what is basically a pre-made cup of juice with a splash of cheap prosecco potentially thrown in at some point during the Festival. Or they thought that sticking a bottle next to the machine would transfer the sparkling wine to the Sangria via osmosis. If for some reason you’ll die if you don’t have wine, I’d elect for a straight pour so you at least know what you’re getting. On the plus side, it is a 12-ounce cup of juice and there is no ice to take up any space. You might consider it if you’re looking for something refreshing, but not terribly boozy, and carry your own non-toxic ice pack. Unfortunately, you’re paying like there’s more wine in it.
Italian Red Sangria with Cabernet Sauvignon – $11
This is more to my personal tastes, though my pick here is still the Margarita. The Red Sangria at least tasted like there was a considerable amount of red wine involved, with a dry finish and just enough sugar to cover up the alcohol without being too fruity. I wouldn’t put it in “smart play” territory, but it should be a better, more refreshing call than a straight cup of Cabernet. We are still outdoors in Florida. It’s unlikely that you’ll need to be reminded.
(Long) Prosecco – $10
Speaking of, it’s available. Considering the kiosk is basically run by Patina Restaurant Group, you would think they would have a sizable wine distributor and plenty of wines to advertise, but they go nameless for whatever reason. This does not seem like a good sign, but it’s here. Which is more than we can say about Space 220.
Banfi Rosa Regale – $11
Get out of here with your 7% sugar water nonsense. Sickening.
Peroni Pilsner — $6 or $10
I’ve railed against the Moretti Lager that’s been served here in six ounce cups for $5+ for years, so I’m glad to see something different pop up. Unfortunately, Peroni is even more common and even less expensive than Moretti and you’ve basically got the Budweiser of Italy at an absurd price.
Value: Chernobyl, after they find out the right number of roentgens, bad. A 6-pack is $6 at Total Wine right now. Or $6 for six ounces at the Festival. There are plenty of more interesting options.
Italian Margarita with Limoncello and Tequila – $11
The Italian Margarita 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 most of Disney’s cocktails, though you’re still better off getting a double Grey Goose over a variety of slushies and other drinks at one of the Joffrey’s kiosks. While it’s as Italian as the tequila, it is tasty if you’re looking for something of this variety.
I wouldn’t on the wine. Spain’s are higher quality and less expensive. You can also pick up a flight there. Back at Hops and Barley, you’ll also find two better wines at half the price. And even if we panned the beer this year, they’re still better options than a $10 12-ounce Peroni.
At least we can continue to enjoy the poem that I wrote about the Marketplace:
Spain is up next. A little less weird. I promise.