Every Walt Disney World vacation usually has this moment. Hunger hits, you check your My Disney Experience App and see the Advanced Dining Reservation (ADR) you made. You’re not feeling it. What do you mean you’re not feeling it? Didn’t you know what you wanted for dinner 180 days ago? Happened to us on our last trip and we stumbled upon Trattoria al Forno over at the Boardwalk Resort.
Disney History Time
Hurry up! Timekeeper is waiting for you! We’re heading back to when Disney’s Boardwalk Resort opened. All the way back to 1996 when Trattoria al Forno was called Spoodles. Themed around Mediterranean cuisine, the restaurant was built around an open kitchen with a large wood fire oven. The food was always solid, but for some reason the restaurant was never busy.
Fast-forward 13 years and the restaurant is reimaged to Cat Cora’s Kouzzina. Reimaged may be a little bit of a stretch as the restaurant kept the Mediterranean cuisine focused around the wood fire oven. The changes came to the menu, as Iron Chef Cat Cora brought her Greek flare and homestyle recipes to the restaurant. We absolutely loved this restaurant the food was uniquely flavored while will being approachable. However, after five years Disney decided to bring in a new concept, Trattoria al Forno.
Hmm…Home-style Italian on the New Jersey style Boardwalk… is this a good idea? Yeah, definitely a match made in theming heaven! Moving the concept away from Mediterranean to Italian makes perfect sense. The previous iterations always had great food, however the cuisine was not the right fit for the Boardwalk area. Plus, who doesn’t love home-style Italian?
It was late in the afternoon and we had an ADR for the Coral Reef restaurant at the Living Seas in Epcot. Great restaurant, a little weird eating fish in an aquarium, but solid food. Neither Serena nor I felt much like fish on this particular night so we opened up the My Disney Experience App to find an alternative. Scrolling through the app we kept coming back to Trattoria al Forno. If you know anything about us, we usually don’t go out for Italian. We love Italian food, but we usually make it home. This time though, Italian sounded perfect. We booked our ADR for later that night.
Passholder Insight: If there is a certain restaurant you’re looking to try and were unable to make an ADR, it’s definitely worth checking back on the My Disney Experience App. Many times reservations open up a day or two ahead of time. No guarantee it will happen, but it definitely doesn’t hurt to check a few times.
Our first few steps in the restaurant and we had an immediate flashback to both Spoodles and Kouzzina. The ambience is the same, which is its selling point – warm, family-style, focused around the wood-burning oven. You feel cozy and right at home, like your favorite neighborhood joint. We order a couple of glasses of wine (solid selection of wines by the glass) and start perusing the menu while munching away on the bread. Usually, we shy away from the bread so we don’t fill up on it, but this is some bread worth filling up on!
For an appetizer, we went with the Venetian mussels. I know right! We didn’t feel like fish, but somehow we ordered mussels. We are New Englanders, we’ve has our fair share of mollusks, these were some of the best we’ve ever had. Huge, juicy, tender, in a smoky tomato cream sauce that just about had us spooning the last bits into our mouths. Cannot wait to order these again!
Main course time! Serena surprised everyone when she went with the parmigiana di pollo (chicken parm). That’s usually my go-to choice. Since we never order the same meal I had to mix it up and went with the Pasta alla Carbonara. Being the chicken parm expert that I am, I had to give Serena’s dish the once over. I’m definitely glad I did as it was a perfectly prepared classic representative of chicken parm. The chicken was not overly breaded but had the perfect amount of crisp. And, don’t get me started on the “Sunday Gravy” or you’ll be reading this blog for the next hour. It was that good!
The Pasta alla Carbonara was a worthy opponent for the chicken parm. Many times I’ve had the dish and it left me feeling way too full and heavy. Not this one. It had the richness I was looking for from the egg and the saltiness from the House-cured Pancetta. Both our meals came with homemade pasta, cooked al dente of course.
We ended up skipping dessert this night as the bread service got us. It was worth it though! Overall the meal was great, service was outstanding as our server paced the meal really well. Nothing worse than getting your main course while you’re still enjoying the appetizer. Definitely didn’t happen here. We enjoyed the meal so much so that we’re heading back on our next trip.
Passholder Insight: Trattoria al Forno also serves a character breakfast. We haven’t had an opportunity to try yet, but other DVC members have told us the food is great and the character interactions are awesome!
If you’re in the mood for Italian and in the Epcot/Boardwalk area, we would highly recommend trying out Trattoria al Forno. You may even see us at the table next to you!