4 Best Reasons to Eat at Trattoria al Forno
Do you like Italian food and walks along the boardwalk? Could you do a decent Smolder if the boyfriend of a princess asked it of you? How do you feel about breakfast and the movie, The Little Mermaid? The answers to these questions will determine the choice of your next Disney meal. Here are a few reasons to eat at Trattoria al Forno.
The BoardWalk at Walt Disney World is one of the coolest places on the entire campus. Imagineers methodically researched the boardwalks that were once a critical part of American vacations. They recreated the experience with this entertainment district right by the waters connecting the resorts behind the World Showcase at Epcot.
To reach the BoardWalk, you simply walk out the back of Epcot, the rear entrance/exit known as the International Gateway. It’s located near the France Pavilion at the World Showcase. Since all resorts provide bus or boat transportation to Epcot, you’ll have an easy time reaching the BoardWalk. That’s especially true when you’re at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The boat transportation from that park has a drop-off point only steps away from the entrance to the restaurant.
Then again, the simplest thing to do is to stay at one of the resorts in the area. Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and Disney’s Beach Club Resort are located directly beside and directly across from the restaurant, and they’re also two of the most luxurious hotels at Walt Disney World. You can save yourself a step by speaking with a MickeyTravels agent about booking a room at one of these places.
When I discussed Tony’s Town Square, I said, “It’s undeniably elegant, but the setting would seem just as valid at any random Italian restaurant in your city.” Trattoria al Forno is a kind of competition to Tony’s Town Square in that they both serve Italian cuisine. The place on the BoardWalk is vastly superior to the one at Magic Kingdom in terms of theming, though.
This decision is by design. Tony’s Town Square is the first Table Service restaurant that guests will see as they walk through Magic Kingdom, although it’s a bit hidden in plain sight. Due to the tie-in with The Lady and the Tramp and the location at the most trafficked theme park on the planet, Tony’s Town Square doesn’t need to sell itself much. Tourists will eat there no matter what.
Trattoria al Forno doesn’t have that luxury. It’s an Italian restaurant located only a ten-minute walk away from other Italian restaurants, ones located at the Italy Pavilion. Knowing nothing else about Walt Disney World, where would you expect to find the best Italian food? Exactly. While the BoardWalk is close to the World Showcase, Trattoria al Forno faces an uphill struggle in persuading guests to make an effort to dine here.
Most of the aesthetics in the theming represent an attempt to seem upscale in quality. The interior is refined, with a comfortable open kitchen design. When you walk in the building for the first time, you’ll feel as if you’re eating at the classiest Italian restaurant in your area. The décor is modern but comfortable, as if a storied Italian eatery had recently remodeled.
Wine bottles populate the walls of one dining section. Throughout the interior, pictures of the old country provide a gentle reminder of the importance of family. The entire design somehow seems sensibly Italian but in a nondescript way. Once you leave Trattoria al Forno, you’ll be hard-pressed to remember any specific detail of the interior. You’ll recall that you felt comfortable and relaxed the entire time, though. That’s a clever trick of Imagineering.
The Character Meal
Trattoria al Forno serves two meals a day. One of them is dramatically more famous than the other one. I’m speaking, of course, of the character meal that drives attendance here. When the restaurant first arrived, it faced a tremendous amount of skepticism. It claimed the space previously used for Iron Chef Cat Cora’s Kouzzina, a beloved Greek restaurant that was the one of its kind in the Epcot area.
As a new Italian place, Trattoria al Forno faced an uphill climb in winning over guests who A) resented the closure of Kouzzina and B) had numerous options for Italian cuisine at Epcot, Magic Kingdom, and Disney Springs. The character meal was Disney’s way of giving the restaurant a chance, and it succeeded.
The Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast stars two of the greatest recent couples from Disney animated cinema. Ariel aka The Little Mermaid and her human love, Prince Eric, dance and romance their way around the tables. The true stars of the meal, however, are Rapunzel and Flynn Rider from Tangled. Disney loved these characters so much that the duo recently returned in a television series, and their charm is on full display during the breakfast.
Flynn wanders around, asking all of the gentlemen to match his Smolder. You may remember it from Tangled. At Walt Disney World, the Smolder looks something like this. Cast members are remarkably good at impersonating it. Your Flynn Rider will charm you, as Rapunzel flips between finding it adorable and him impossible. It’s a pitch-perfect implementation of the characters from the film.
The food at breakfast is also divine. Pastries are provided for the table to share, and there’s a limitless supply of them. Each guest will have a choice of fruit salad or parfait, too. The entrees at breakfast are hearty to the point that I should warn you it’s a big meal. You should pick it on a day when you’re going to do a lot early and want/need the extra energy.
Entrees have silly names like Swimmers Delight (an omelet and smoked salmon), Two-Eggs Poached Underwater (sausage, gravy, and cheese covering a golden polenta), and Tower of Pancakes (a…tower of pancakes). The weightiest choice is King Triton’s Shipwreck al Forno, a decadent calzone with bacon, sausage, cheese and salumi (which isn’t the same as salami).
Personally, I go for the Royale Breakfast, a steak with a cheesy-egg torte and breakfast potatoes. I’m a carnivore, though. It’s not the right meal for most people and less thematically fitting than the rest of the entrees, too. Whatever you pick, it’s going to be a huuuuge meal for breakfast. You’ll have the time of your life, too. It’s legitimately one of the best character meals at Walt Disney World.
As I type this, Trattoria al Forno is currently the #258-ranked restaurant out of 3,116 in the greater Orlando area. For comparison, Tony’s Town Square is #613, Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria is #383, and Tutto Italia Ristorante is #216.
I say all of this to establish the credentials of Trattoria al Forno. It’s demonstrably better than two of the most famous Italian places at Walt Disney World; it’s also neck-and-neck with Tutto Italia Ristorante for best overall. Since Italian food is one of the go-to options of fine diners around the world, nobody’s ever going to go wrong by eating here. The food is savory and flavorful, packing precisely the wallop you would expect from a high-end Italian joint.
As you’d expect, the sauces and pastas are the stars here, and the pizza’s also worth your time. The restaurant sells a vegetarian pizza, a margherita, a smoked prosciutto, and something described as the chef’s specialty. The antipastis are most salads and seafood dishes, although Gnocchi di Patate is wonderful.
The entrees are bold and filling, particularly the Parmigiana di Pollo, Pesce con Ravioli, and Pasta alla Bolognese. The dish with the strongest reputation, at least going by TripAdvisor comments, is the Lasagna al Forno. It’s everything you would expect from a plate of lasagna at a classy Italian restaurant.
Look, when you think about eating Italian food, your natural instinct is to go to the Italy Pavilion. You’ll find some places at Disney Springs that can satisfy your cravings, too. All of them are great choices, and you can’t go wrong, save for arguably Tony’s Town Square at Magic Kingdom.
With Trattoria al Forno, however, you get to eat off the beaten path a bit at the BoardWalk, spending time at a place with a lot of fun shops. You can enjoy one of the greatest Italian meals in the city at dinner or possibly THE best breakfast at Walt Disney World. It’s a terrific spot that doesn’t get the attention it deserves.