Cafe Portofino Review
Cafe Portofino is a counter service buffeteria in Tokyo DisneySea’s Mediterranean Harbor. It’s a nice Italian option at the front of the park, and is one of the largest restaurants in the park. Tokyo Disney Resort’s official description of Cafe Portofino is that it originally was “a very small, unassuming restaurant, but it was so popular, the owners converted the fishing net repair shop next door into a dining area for their many Guests. In this rustic seaside Italian buffeteria, you can enjoy various delicious dishes.”
The description is mostly apt, as it appears more or less like an Italian restaurant with a port/fishing theme. We find Cafe Portofino to be a charming and surprisingly intimate restaurant for its size with a nice portside motif, but in terms of part of it being a restaurant and part being a converted fishing net repair shop, we don’t really see it.
There’s nothing at all wrong with that–it just doesn’t have the same level of transportive theming found elsewhere at Tokyo DisneySea. Still a very beautiful restaurant, but just not on the same level.
Sometimes I feel like I’m grasping at straws with these Tokyo DisneySea reviews so that they aren’t just a useless series of “everything is awesome there” content. By any reasonable method of evaluation, Cafe Portofino is a beautiful setting. It’s just not amazing relative to the alternatives in the park.
However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat at Cafe Portofino. The food is exceptional and even if lacks a truly transportive theme, there’s still a ton of detail and it’s a very enjoyable setting. We especially like the outdoor seating area that looks out on the water at night. Grab a table out here during Fantasmic (don’t expect to see much of the show, but it’s nice “background ambiance”) or near the end of the night to enjoy the tranquility of Mediterranean Harbor.
On the left above is Cafe Portofino’s seasonal pasta set. It seems like a variation of this is always offered. It comes with a pasta dish plus a side, dessert, and a drink for around $14. The first time we went to Cafe Portofino, we got this and split it for a light meal. Given that Tokyo Disney Resort is known for small portions, we felt this was a very good option. We were really impressed with the main pasta dish, which was a special seafood pasta.
Here’s the Christmas variation on the special set.
More recently, we ordered the rotisserie chicken set (available for the Christmas season), which also came with pasta salad and dessert. This chicken was sizeable (albeit smaller than a portion you’d get in the US parks). It had a nice black pepper flavor, and the overall meal with vegetables and rice also as sides, was exceptionally high quality for a counter service/buffeteria restaurant. If I recall correctly, this set was more expensive (maybe like $18) than the spring-time set, but still worth it.
It came with a small pasta salad as a side (emphasis on small!), which was also good.
This cake was our dessert, which tasted great and–like the rest of the food–had great presentation for a counter service spot.
Previously, we had this Duffy head dessert. It wasn’t as good as the chocolate cake dessert, but there’s something to be said for eating a Duffy head dessert. Regardless of where you stand on Duffy, it’s a gratifying experience! 😉
Overall, Cafe Portofino only loses points from us from the perspective that you probably have only so many counter service meals in Tokyo DisneySea, and you’re better off allocating those meals to the more unique settings (assuming you’re a tourist, not a local). In that regard, we’re definitely grading on a curve, and even though we think the food here is really good and a good value for money, we’d suggest heading elsewhere. The exception to that is if you want to enjoy hearing/seeing Fantasmic in the background while you eat, or if you want to grab a quick bite on the way out of the park at the end of the night. There’s very little to fault about Cafe Portofino all things considered, but we still don’t view it as one of the top Tokyo DisneySea restaurants unless one of those scenarios applies to you.
If you’re planning a visit to Japan, make sure to check out our Tokyo Disney Resort Trip Planning Guide. It offers comprehensive advice for visiting Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea, plus general tips for visiting Japan!
Overall Score: 9/10
To read other Disney restaurant reviews from Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Tokyo Disney Resort, Disneyland Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Disney Cruise Line, organized by location, check out our Disney Dining Reviews Index.
Have you dined at Cafe Portofino? What did you think of it? Did you “get” that it’s a converted net shop, or did it just seem like a Mediterranean restaurant with some cool decor? If you have any questions or thoughts to share, please post them in the comments. We love hearing from readers!
Yeah…that theming was lost on me too. We dined here during our trip since – after nearly a week in Japan – we needed some non-Asian-style food. I got the shrimp pasta in a tomato cream sauce, the carrot soup, and the seafood salad. The shrimp pasta was fantastic – I was shocked to have that good of Italian food in Japan…and I’m an Italian food snob (I grew up in NJ and can barely stand LA’s Italian food often). The salad was tasty and the seafood in it was very fresh. The soup was delicious but VERY small (even by Tokyo Disney standards) and it took WAY too long to explain that I didn’t want it without bacon (the Japanese do love to put bacon in everything and seem utterly confounded by someone who wouldn’t eat it…). But again, these are minor quibbles over a fantastic dining experience. This place and Casbah food court were probably my two favorite quick service experiences at Tokyo Disney.
Of course, even if they understood, they will not change the dish. They will politely ask you to order something else.