Primo Piatto is the counter service restaurant at Riviera Resort, Walt Disney World’s newest DVC property. In this WDW lunch and dinner review, we’ll share food photos, thoughts on cuisine quality, atmosphere, and whether you should dine here or walk over to the quick service dining options at Caribbean Beach.
Walt Disney World describes this Italian-inspired eatery as being a “quick-service restaurant reminiscent of chic dining venues found along Riviera promenades.” The dining spot is tucked away on the first floor of Disney’s Riviera Resort, nestled between the Bar Riva poolside lounge, the bocce ball court, and the grand lawn…
In terms of themed design and atmosphere, Primo Piatto is pretty straightforward. The restaurant offers outdoor seating with lounge chairs and tables all around the bocce ball court and pool in addition to the normal indoor seating area.
Inside, there’s a variety of seating. Booths, tables, and high top communal seating are all among the options that make good use of the space. There’s a variety of mosaic tile-work, arched windows, wainscoting panels, trim, light fixtures, and other accents.
There are also Disney touches courtesy of black and white photos of Lillian and Walt Disney on their travels in the French Riviera and throughout Europe that line the walls of the restaurant. This all works to give Primo Piatto’s seating area a bit of personality.
If the idea is that this is the type of the chic dining venues found along promenades in the Riviera, it would’ve been cool if Primo Piatto (or some other restaurant at Disney’s Riviera Resort) had outward-facing café terrace seating. As it stands, this spot feels like something you could find in the Riviera, but not a exemplar of anything noteworthy you’d see there. (There are Starbucks, McDonald’s, and other chains in the Riviera–it doesn’t make those “on theme.”)
With that said, counter service restaurants at resorts have always been more utilitarian and never where Walt Disney World goes all in on theme. Examples of this abound–even at our beloved Wilderness and Animal Kingdom Lodges–so it’s hardly fair to hold Disney’s Riviera Resort to a more onerous standard. On balance, this is a nice and comfortable space.
Perhaps more importantly, a higher end atmosphere is established via the real silverware and plates. These are a really nice touch, reminiscent of Disneyland’s best counter service, and something we hope sticks around after the ‘new restaurant smell’ wears off here. There are also Coke Freestyle machines, a quasi show kitchen, and Cast Members that bus tables. All of that plus the menu makes this feel far more like a fast casual affair than a food court.
Speaking of which, let’s move on to the food…
We’ll start with the Riviera Burger, which is a 1/3 pound grilled signature-blend burger with brisket and chuck topped with provolone, grilled portobello, caramelized onions, tomato, and garlic mayonnaise on a toasted brioche bun, served with a choice of side.
With the proliferation of great counter service burgers–and a menu description that sounds like the patties used at D-Luxe Burger–we had high expectations. Sadly, this failed to live up to them. Our burger was overcooked and fell somewhere between the delicious D-Luxe Burger patty and the Standard Disney Patty (a proprietary blend of cardboard, capybara, and aged hyena meat).
The toppings also helped to mask what was otherwise only so-so meat. We should also note that this was on night two of the resort being open when Primo Piatto was slammed. Our Mobile Order took forever, so I’m hopeful that this was a one-off, bad luck experience. (Anyone order this and have better results?) At some point, we’ll probably roll the dice on this again, but that’s difficult to justify with the great burger at Spyglass Grill within walking distance.
Next, something from the plant-based menu–the Farm-Fresh Artisanal Pizza. One variants of this (what we ordered) is served for breakfast, with a very similar option for lunch and dinner. It offers a fresh plant-based artisan hearth-baked pizza topped with carrot-top pesto, plant-based mozzarella, eggplant, red onion, roasted tomato, and a plant-based egg scramble.
Everything about this is on point. The hearth-baked crust hits the right balance between doughy and crisp, and is so much better than both the “Almost Pizza” options served at spots like PizzeRizzo and even the normal Walt Disney World flatbreads.
Sarah and I had different reactions to the rest of this pizza. She thought it was very good, with the fresh vegetables tasting great and the pesto being a nice enhancement. I thought this way way too light on cheese (and meat) but still good for what it was. The other breakfast pizza we tried was much better in my opinion, and the other lunch/dinner pizzas look exceptional. Still, good option if you’re vegan or vegetarian.
The Roasted Half Chicken served with Gruyère Macaroni and Cheese and Grilled Asparagus is one of several dinner-only options served after 4 pm (as is the case with the final items after this).
This was well-seasoned, with crisp skin provided a nice superficial crunch to the tender and juicy chicken underneath. The white meat was a tad dry, but the dark meat was phenomenal. Very good by counter service standards, and with a hearty portion size.
Next, the Crispy Chicken Breast Cutlet. This is Fried Hand-breaded Chicken over Saffron Risotto topped with Extra Virgin Olive Oil tossed with Arugula and Shaved Parmesan.
This was a mixed bag. Some bites were perfect, with a thin layer of breading giving way to juicy meat underneath. Other bites were dry and rubbery, or had a thin layer of meat with a thick layer of breading on top. It’s worth noting that this was the same night that we ordered the burger, so perhaps it was a one-off. Either way, I’d be less inclined to give this dish a second chance.
Finally, the Grilled Hanger Steak. This steak is topped with a Red Wine Sauce and Balsamic Syrup served with Mascarpone Mashed Potatoes and Buttered Carrots.
The Grilled Hangar Steak is the winner of Primo Piatto, and one of the top 5 counter service entrees in all of Walt Disney World.
Ours was a perfectly-cooked medium rare, incredibly tender, and full of flavor. The portion size is perfectly sufficient (we shared the half-chicken and this and found that approach to be ideal) and the smoky carrots and mashed potatoes provide delicious filler to round out the meal.
This steak is really similar to the one we raved about at Topolino Terrace’s Breakfast a la Art. If you’re not into characters…and want a great steak for dinner instead of breakfast, this is a worthy alternative. That’s especially true if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan, as this will only cost you one counter service credit, making it an exceptional value. (Even if you’re paying out of pocket, the price here seems pretty fair to us.)
We didn’t really touch upon the sides above, and that’s not because they didn’t make an impression–to the contrary, we want to break them out separately given they’re quality and overall delicious. (These all can be ordered as stand-alone sides.)
Without question, our favorite was the Gruyère Macaroni & Cheese. The cheese here was dense, rich, and creamy. That was nicely offset by the bread crumbles for a “balanced” but deeply decadent side. The Mascarpone Mashed Potatoes come in second place. These had a smooth, whipped to perfection quality that elevated them from standard mashed potatoes. The creamy Saffron Risotto was also quite good, but not as good as the mac and cheese or potatoes. The Romano & Herb Fries were the lone disappointment–basically just normal fries garnished with some herbs.
Overall, there’s a lot to love about Primo Piatto, and this review probably reads more tepid than our actual sentiment about the restaurant. To be clear, we’ve loved our experiences at Primo Piatto, as well as most of the food. There have been a couple of dishes that were only so-so, but we’ve had more that were very good–and others at nearby tables that have looked really good, too. We plan on dining here again sooner rather than later. (In fact, we debated doing another meal before publishing this review.)
Moreover, Primo Piatto is a delightful experience that feels more high end than your average Walt Disney World counter service restaurant. It’s better than anything in Epcot (sorry, Tangierine Cafe) and maybe even Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Given that Docking Bay 7 currently tops our list of the Best Counter Service Restaurants at Walt Disney World, that’s really saying something.
Suffice to say, the quality and value for money make Primo Piatto destination dining worthy of the Skyliner ride from either park to Disney’s Riviera Resort. The questions that remain are how the rest of the menu pans out and whether Primo Piatto maintains its current level of attention to detail and high standards for cuisine. If it does (and that’s a big if), this will rank as one of the top counter service restaurants at Walt Disney World.
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Have you dined at Primo Piatto? What did you order? What did you think of your food? What about the ambiance/theme/caliber of the dining experience? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!