Trattoria al Forno Review
Trattoria al Forno is a table service restaurant at BoardWalk Inn at Walt Disney World. It’s a family-friendly Italian restaurant, with an approachable menu. In this review, we’ll share food photos, some insight into the ambiance of this WDW dining spot, and thoughts on our meal at Trattoria al Forno.
In terms of basics, Trattoria al Forno participates in the Disney Dining Plan as a 1-credit table service restaurant, and also accepts the Tables in Wonderland card for a 20% discount. With an incredibly wide range of menu prices, it’s also one of the rare restaurants at Walt Disney World that can be both a good value out of pocket, and a good way to maximize your value on the Disney Dining Plan. Basically, order a <$20 pizza or pasta for a good out of pocket value, or the strip steak for a good DDP value.
Trattoria al Forno replaced Kouzzina by Cat Cora, which closed a few years ago after concluding its 5-year run on the BoardWalk. Although it was always “on our list,” we never got around to trying Kouzzina. In fact, before our meal at Trattoria al Forno, Sarah had never dined in this venue, and my last time here was at some point in the mid-1990s when it was Spoodles and I made my own pizza as a kid…
For the last year or so, we had been telling ourselves we’d make it to Trattoria al Forno for the new character breakfast at some point in the near future. However, when our plans changed due to Hurricane Irma, we made an impromptu stop at this eatery. Who knows, but for that, we may have failed to dine here until it inevitability turns into a Guy Fieri restaurant.
Initially, we debated between Trattoria al Forno and Il Mulino New York Trattoria. We had done Todd English’s bluezoo the night before, and were really impressed by it. However, we felt a bit under-dressed there, and weren’t keen on a repeat of that.
Our assumption was that Trattoria al Forno would be more laid back. (More than just an assumption–as much is obvious if you simply walk past each.) We’ll get to Il Mulino soon…it’s “on our list.”
Upon walking into Trattoria al Forno I was surprised to see the open kitchen. Not because open kitchens are unprecedented or anything, but it brought back memories of Spoodles I didn’t even know I had.
Even though we are two incarnations removed from Spoodles, if memory serves me, that aspect of the restaurant is virtually unchanged.
Ambiance-wise, Trattoria al Forno is nice. It feels a lot like an upscale Italian restaurant, from the upholstery to the light fixtures. There’s a lot of texture, rich woods, and light touches that you’d expect from a family-run Italian restaurant.
Thematically, Trattoria al Forno is not doing anything all that impressive, but it gets the job done at conveying the theme. Sometimes–like here–that’s perfectly sufficient. I’d say the star of the restaurant in terms of ambiance is the show kitchen, which is visible from the far reaches of the seating area.
Our meal started out with individual loaves of ciabatta, but I forgot to photograph it. This bread was fine, but nothing special.
For our first appetizer, we had the tried and true Calamari Fritti. Whenever I go to an Italian restaurant, it’s pretty much guaranteed I’m ordering the calamari. The pepperoncini provided a mild kick here, and the balsamic (below the calamari) worked well with that. The breading was the perfect consistency, and the calamari itself was good. We’d definitely recommend this.
Our second appetizer was the Gnocchi di Patata. Per the menu, this contains “Pancetta, Seasonal Vegetables, Goat Cheese Crema, Soft-cooked Egg.”
My initial thought when reading that it included the egg was that this might be compensating for an otherwise dry gnocchi dish. That was not the case; if anything, the egg made this a tad too liquid-y. Despite that, the flavor here was exceptional and it was both hearty and modestly ambitious. Also recommended.
For her entree, Sarah had the Pasta alla Bolognese. From the menu: “Braised Short Rib, Smoked Pork Belly, Tomatoes, Mushrooms, Pecorino Romano.”
She found the pasta to be perfectly-prepared, but the sauce and meat were both lacking. The sauce was nearly devoid of flavor and tasted canned. We’ve found this complaint all-too common with Italian restaurants at Walt Disney World, unfortunately. The meat was alright, but couldn’t make up for that lackluster sauce. We would not recommend this.
For my entree, I had the Pasta alla Carbonara. Per the menu: “Bacon and Eggs House-cured Pancetta, Local Organic Egg, Pecorino Romano, fresh Pasta.”
Given the similarity to our gnocchi, this might seem like overkill or redundant. And, maybe it was. Personally, I loved it. Even though this is best-described as comfort food, it was good comfort food. A nice, heavy meal that allowed me to carb-load for a weekend of hibernating in a hotel room. 😉 This was my favorite item of the meal–and that’s with two pretty good appetizers.
For dessert, we had the Tiramisu. After seeing a gorgeous photo of this on the Disney Parks Blog (albeit from ~3 years ago), I was disappointed when the above cup showed up.
Swap out the glass cup for a plastic one, and this is just as easily a dish you could order at PizzeRizzo, prepared a couple of weeks ago and frozen until ready for your very special dessert. It tasted about as good as it looks, and I’m normally a sucker for tiramisu.
When it comes to Italian restaurants, there are several options at Walt Disney World. Personally, I think the only one that can be fairly compared to Trattoria al Forno is Tutto Italia. Everywhere else (Mama Melrose, Tony’s Town Square, Via Napoli, etc.) is sufficiently different that a comparison doesn’t seem appropriate.
It’s been a while since we’ve dined at Tutto Italia (to the point that we’re overdue to revisit it), but based upon our last visit to Tutto Italia, I’d give Trattoria al Forno the slight nod. In reality, which is “better” probably comes down to individual menu items and how the kitchen is doing on a particular day. We went 3 for 5 in our meal at Trattoria al Forno; anytime you bat above .500 at a Walt Disney World Italian restaurant, you’re doing fairly well.
Overall, Trattoria al Forno offers a satisfying slate of Italian cuisine with a varied, crowd-pleasing menu. I suppose you could spin this restaurant in a couple of different ways: the #1 non-Signature restaurant on the BoardWalk, or conversely, failing to make the top 10 table service restaurants in the Epcot-area. I’m disinclined to take a strong stance on it one way or the other. I think Trattoria al Forno fills an important role in being a quality, approachable option in the Crescent Lake area. It’s not as good as Flying Fish, Yachtsman Steakhouse, or Swan & Dolphin dining, but that doesn’t matter–it’s not the same type of restaurant. For what it is, we’re pleased with Trattoria al Forno, and would return.
Want more dining tips? Check out our 101 Delicious Walt Disney World Dining Tips. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
What do you think of Trattoria al Forno? Where does it rank in terms of Italian restaurants at Walt Disney World for you? Have any favorite dishes here? Any questions? Hearing your feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts or questions below in the comments!
I’m very interested in your cmoments of mama Melrose
Hi Tom, any chance you can fix the comment function? I can only read one full page of comments on any article, and then one second page with just one comment on. This has happened for me on all your articles since the Minnie van one. Not a disaster as I’m here for your writing, but I did previously like reading all the comments…
I think/hope I’ve resolved this issue. Let me know if you’re still encountering this error!
This place has a nice ambiance. The food was average. The red sauce was on the salty side.
We have been to Trattoria twice and both times sat outside with the great view of the Boardwalk. The last visit in March I had the best whole fish Bronzini I have ever had, great food considering the one dining credit cost on the DDP! The service at times can be fair to average but overall the restaurant sits in a great spot and if you have kids and want to dine with a bit of an atmosphere and something to see besides the restaurant, sit outside and take in the beauty of the Boardwalk!
Slightly off topic but I’m assuming that since almost no Disney blogger (DisneyFoodBlog excepted) has reviewed Tony’s…it must be pretty bad, eh? Completist that I am, I’m always curious about Tony’s, but given the complete dearth of reviews of it out there, it’s gotta be pretty bad.
After hearing years of awful word of mouth about Tony’s, we cannot bring ourselves to dine there. We really should…someday…but for now, you’re on your own! 😉
We ate once at Tony’s and it was fine. I would call it Olive Garden quality, which is certainly not praise. But Olive Garden is also still in business!
Thanks for the review. I was puzzled by another Italian restaurant in the area, but this at least sounds like a solid option. (It’s probably worth mentioning that this looks like the least expensive compared to Il Mulino/Tutto Italia. ) I’ll miss Kouzzina, however. The cuisine was unique and something that is not common in WDW or my home location. We ate there twice and had good meals.
At the risk of being called a “rube”, I’ll say that there is something special about Tutto/Via vs the out-of-park counterparts. On an average Epcot day, we log easily 20-25,000 steps. Eating in the WS vs Swan/Dolphis (or Boardwalk) saves a few steps. Also, much of what we pay for in a WDW vacation is theming, and the in-park restaurants do that well. Also, having your host/hostess/server being actualy from Italy adds something to the meal.
I think you definitely have a point, particularly with regard to the novelty of servers in World Showcase being from their respective countries.
You will be hard-pressed to find a better calamari than at Tutto Italio/Tutto Gusto! We had a group of 5 there a few months back and planned to share on order, among other apps and cheese plate. As soon as the server put it down and we had all had a bite, we immediately ordered another!
We went to Trattoria al Forno both for the character breakfast (good, but expensive) and for dinner. My pasta was good, but my husband’s whole fish (and I do mean whole – served head on) was really good. It was really fresh, perfectly cooked, and perfectly seasoned. They really went the extra mile on that dish. It’s interesting how some things are sort of meh and others are great there.
Not a comment on this post, just a request….any chance of going back to the full posts being readable in blog readers (Feedly, for example)? Clicking through is an admittedly small hassle,!m but one nonetheless. Plus, I tend to read at night with a black background – clicking through to a white background hurts!
Love the blog!
Do you know about when that stopped working? I didn’t do anything (to my knowledge) to make that stop, but some other change might’ve had an unintended consequence.
I read through Feedly and am catching up on blogs after a weekend at Disney, so for me it started today. I left on Friday, so possibly at some point between then and now?
Yesterday was the first day that the full posts stopped showing up in my RSS feed. I honestly just assumed it was a financial choice for you, and considering how much value I have received from your posts, I was more than willing to live with the inconvenience. But if it COULD go back to full posts, I wouldn’t complain! 😉
My mom and I went twice on our last visit and when we made a spur of the moment trip just for the day, we chose Trattoria al Forno for dinner that night. The first trip we had the meal plan, the second time we did not (spur of the moment day trip). While thematically it may be lacking, I’d say that the food is a notch better than most WDW dining. Pair the consistency of a good meal with the Boardwalk’s convenient location (and we don’t stay on the Boardwalk but rather bus to HS and walk the path) it’s worth it in our book, even without the dining plan. I hope they do not make all dining here a character meal as I think the quality would decrease overall.
You should have tried the house-made mozzarella. It doesn’t disappoint!
We went to the character breakfast in August and found it to be pretty good. My wife is a bit of a Rapunzel fan so that was the main reason we went. It isn’t a buffet so that may turn off some people but the portions were good for the price and the character interaction were also good. In fact our server flagged down Ariel for us as we were leaving and hadn’t met her yet.
I used to love Spoodles. It was a great spot for lunch (until they discontinued it) and Kouzzina had a spectacular breakfast. I have no interest in trying this place at all and your review did nothing to change that.
Let’s be blunt: Il Mulino is the finest Italian cuisine on Disney property and some of the best I have had anywhere in Florida. It’s very, very good. But the typical of today WDW Guest (hey, I didn’t call anyone a rube, so I should be fine with your new ‘standards’ for posting here) isn’t going anywhere near the Swan or Dolphin (no MAGIC, right?) The fact that Il Mulino is more upscale and a person who reeks of sweat and a day at EPCOT is going to feel like they should have showered and changed (they should have!) is not going to be comfortable. And WDW dining locales long ago did away with any pretense of having dress codes and behavior codes.
Anyway, I have dined at Il Mulino probably half a dozen times and never been disappointed by the food, service or atmosphere. That’s where I’d be going if I wanted great Italian cuisine in an upscale but not stuffy atmosphere.
I’m really curious about Il Mulino. I wish we had done it this trip–especially since it was participating in Magical Dining Month–but we walked past it the previous night on our way to bluezoo, and it was definitely a place I wouldn’t have felt comfortable in a polo and khakis.
As noted, bluezoo was exceptional. I’d also like to do a proper meal at Kimonos. We’ve done drunken karaoke there a few times, but never had more than just finger foods. I don’t really have any interest in Shula’s.
We are also fans of Il Mulino. Nice, adult atmosphere which reminds us of the Italian restaurants we frequented in New York and New Jersey. Great service, good food, excellent bar. While it isn’t overly fancy, we still dress in other than park clothes for dinner there: dark slacks, nice pullover sweaters with collared shirts and so forth. My husband loves their carbonara and he talks about the tiramisu – properly served as a large square on a soup plate with some soft zabaglione and fresh berries – all year long. One of the real standouts is the chicken parmesan, which covers the entire dinner plate. My son adores it. As in steak houses and other NYC style eateries, sides are separate, and the pastas and risottos are available in half portions.
I’ve been to Il Mulino a few times. Polo and khakis are fine.
Thank you for this review! I hadn’t seen many comprehensive breakdowns of the food here, so it is appreciated.