Marrying into an Italian family was a new culinary experience for me. Growing up in a meat and potatoes household, I never knew that grated cheese didn’t necessarily come out of a jar, garlic could be used more than once annually, and that the traditional first course (layered sliced hard boiled eggs, oranges, lemons, ricotta salata, and salami) during Easter at my in-laws could taste good in despite of itself.
When Tutto Gusto, in Epcot’s Italy pavilion opened recently, I was pretty sure it would be right in my husband’s wheelhouse. On a 90+ degree afternoon in June, my husband and I headed over to give it a try.
Tutto Gusto, a wine bar that serves small plates of specialty meats and cheeses as well as pasta, is sandwiched between Tutto Italia and Via Napoli at the very rear of the pavilion’s courtyard. Guests can enter from the outside or through Tutto Italia, the table-service restaurant next door.
Its unassuming exterior fits well with the dark, cool, interior. The small space is designed to feel like a wine cellar and indeed it did. There aren’t many places at Walt Disney World where you can have a respite from the crowds, sensory overload, and heat but this refreshing haven is one of them.
Small tables are scattered throughout the space while a lounge area in the back has a cozy feel, as if you’re at a friend’s house, with its couches and tables for balancing drinks and plates. One wall contains the bar, a display case of goodies to make your selection exceedingly difficult, and racks of wine.
After being seated, we were handed our menus. I hadn’t realized that ordering from the Tutto Italia menu was an option but on our visit we were able to peruse menus for the Italian table-service restaurant as well as one for Tutto Gusto. Tutto Italia is nice but we were here to try the offerings of Tutto Gusto. After setting the one menu aside, it was pretty clear that I would be ordering a pasta dish while my husband was practically salivating over the meats and cheeses section.
I settled on the pasta with potatoes (Rughetta e Patate). The pasta was Italian cooking at its best and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone. The simplicity of the ingredients served to highlight their quality and the skill used during preparation to coax out all their yummy goodness. Potatoes in a small dice married well with bits of pancetta, chiffonade of arugula, halved sweet cherry tomatoes, and fruity olive oil. The plate didn’t look overly large but I left very satisfied.
After looking over the Meats and Cheeses section, my husband selected the Chef’s Choice (about $20), pretty easily. Parmigiano Regianno, paper-thin prosciutto, and rich salami (without being overly fatty) were served alongside bread. The bread looked like focaccia, but I don’t think it was. A separate dish of fresh mozzarella atop very high quality olive oil was also served. My husband died and went to heaven and only wished he could bring some back to his father. The outstanding products at Tutto Gusto made the Italian meats and cheeses my husband and his family purchase from the Italian specialty shop seem to come from the local grocery store.
The server was very efficient but pushed the extras pretty hard. I almost felt as if I was committing a gaffe when I passed up wine with lunch and refused dessert and coffees because we had a reservation later that afternoon for tea at the Grand Floridian.
I think I can best illustrate up our experience with the suggestion my husband made in all seriousness. He wants to spend five or six hours in Tutto Gusto just eating. It was that good; he’s okay with skipping attractions, shows, and other revered Disney snacks and restaurants to sit in the cool, dim, quiet space and savor a different dish every hour! I know no future trip to Walt Disney World will be complete without a stop in the Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar.
Lisa M. Battista is the author of Beyond the Attractions: A Guide to Walt Disney World with Preschoolers. When she’s not chasing after her little ones, you can most likely find her at the beach or in the kitchen trying her hand at a new recipe. You can follow her on Twitter @DisneyExplorer or become a fan of Beyond the Attractions on Facebook.Share