My recent visit to the Walt Disney World resort might have been a quick one but it was packed with good times and delightful eats, all except the Trattoria al Forno. One of my favorite places to stay is in the Epcot resorts area because I love being so close to the Boardwalk area. It’s a great place to wind down with a great meal in the restaurants on the waterfront and let’s be honest, the Boardwalk Bakery is just top notch.
I was pretty excited that a new italian eatery was coming to the Boardwalk area when it was announced in July of 2014. With my Italian hertitage, I am always interested in trying different interpretations of their cuisine. I am hard to please when it comes to Italian fare mainly because my Italian mother and grandmother were wonderful cooks. I know my way around a kitchen pretty well too! When I was at Disney in December, I missed the opening of Trattoria al Forno by 2 days. This trip we decided to give it a test run.
The interior of the restaurant is welcoming and lends exactly to what I would imagine a family-owned Tuscan cafe would be. The changes are pretty minor from the interior of it’s previous tenant, Kozzina, one of my past favorite eateries at Walt Disney World. I especially like the wine display at the entrance – it adds a very nice touch.
We were seated near the on-stage kitchen, which always thrills me. I love to watch chefs in action. Our server, Fabiana, was absolutely delightful and was quick to explain the extensive wine list. It’s hard to choose from so many tempting wine choices but we ultimately went for a classic Chianti. It was perfect. Fabiana recommended a few appetizers to begin with and they all sounded delicious but I am very partial to a Caprese salad. This was no mistake.
The Caprese Salad is unbelievable. House-made mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, red onion and balsamic vinegar…yes, please. The mozzarella is smooth and creamy with a touch of rock salt. It doesn’t get any better than this starter. My poor lactose-intolerant husband couldn’t eat much of the fresh cheesy delight – more for me. I honestly could have stopped right there at that dish, and based on the meal I ordered, I really should have.
When it came to the main entrees, our server raved about the lamb shank and the Braised Beef Bolognese with house made Cavatelli. My husband is a huge fan of Carbonara so he wasn’t hearing any of the recommended dishes, his mind was made up. I don’t like lamb, I just can’t do it so I decided on the Braised Beef Bolognese even though there were many other tempting entrees on the menu.
I am not sure what happened but it seemed like forever before our dishes were delivered to us. We were both leaning towards the idea that our order was not placed timely but since we had a little fresh ciabatta and the Caprese salad to start off with, we weren’t too concerned as we chatted and enjoyed our wine. Honestly, it shouldn’t take over 30 minutes to get dishes to your guests especially when it is not busy but we let that part slide.
Finally, here come our dishes. The presentation is quite attractive and the portions are large. To my disappointment, my food was warm, not hot, just mildly warm and so was my husband’s. When you wait over 30 minutes for a dish, you would expect it to be piping hot, right? Not ours. At this point, we are pretty hungry so we just decide to make the best of it.
The Semolina Tagliatelle alla Carbona was pretty good but very heavy on the egg flavor. My husband loved it. Me – not so much. It was good, just not outstanding and I can create one at home that is beyond restaurant quality. As long as he is happy, I am happy.
My dish, the Braised Beef Bolognese, fell very short of even being palatable. Not only was it not hot, it lacked flavor and a good bolognese is usually chock full of flavor. It is served over a house made Cavatelli pasta and that part was pretty good but that’s just the pasta. The braised beef alone was just okay – it was tender and fell apart when it met my fork, but it was pretty bland like the gravy it was resting in. Two bites and I am done. I honestly can’t recommend this dish and was wishing I had chosen something different.
This is not to say that I will not return to Trattoria al Forno because I certainly will give it another shot. I am rarely disappointed with table service meals around the Disney resort and I am hoping that it was just an off night for the chef. I think on my next visit in May, I will put the Eggplant Rollatini to the test or maybe even the Polpetta Gigante – the giant meatball with Ricotta Cannelloni and Marinara – both dishes I was eyeing on the table next to us.
Needless to say, I ended up with a cupcake from the Boardwalk Bakery as my entree. Not a bad alternative in my eyes. It was filled with raspberry so I think between the wine and the raspberry filling, I got my daily serving of fruit! You know the saying, “Life is uncertain, eat dessert first?” I did….and I enjoyed it.
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