We’re kicking off our in-depth coverage of Epcot’s Festival of the Holidays with Tuscany, a sly rebranding of the Italy booth from Food & Wine, which ended only a week ago. In this post, we’ll share ‘real world’ photos of every food and dessert on the menu, and offer our reviews & tasting notes.
Curiously, the Tuscany Holiday Kitchen was the first of these food booths to open on the debut day of the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays. Virtually everyone in our group made a variation of the same joke: Italy wanted to get a jump on the poor reviews.
Walt Disney World bloggers aren’t known for our wry observational humor, but this joke is very funny because it’s generally true. A lot of people don’t like to hear this because the Italy booth serves comfort foods that are crowd-pleasing, making it a safe option for those who want to enjoy these type of events, but aren’t adventurous eaters. The good news here is that Tuscany is not awful–it’s right in the middle of the pack, which is very good by the Italy booth’s historical standards…
Now that we have that ringing endorsement out of the way, let’s hedge it a bit. At Walt Disney Word, Italian cuisine is fairly ubiquitous and there are a range of good to great options at table service restaurants…in addition to the mediocre ones. Tuscany is definitely on the mediocre end of that spectrum.
This comparison to table service restaurants is relevant because Tuscany is the most expensive of the booths at Epcot’s Festival of the Holidays. Every item is either $8 or $10–and keep in mind that these are snack-sized portions. Even ordering every single thing is not the equivalent of a full table service meal, and you’ll definitely spend more in the process.
Anyway, here’s what’s on the food menu at the Tuscany Holiday Kitchen for 2018:
Cavatappi ai Quattro Formaggi: Baked Four-Cheese Pasta, Parmesan Crumble and Truffle Essence (Kid-Approved)
Mozzarella in Carozza: Golden-crusted Fried Mozzarella Sandwich and Tomato Sauce (Kid-Approved)
Crespelle di Mele: Cinnamon Apple Fritters and a Vanilla Sauce Drizzle with Chocolate Caramel Sauce
Bacio al Cioccolato: Warm Hazelnut Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Mascarpone Cream
Panettone Mignon: Miniature Traditional Italian Christmas Fruitcake
Now our photos and reviews of each item…
Mozzarella in Carozza – Think of this as a cross between a grilled cheese sandwich and an all-cheese Monte Cristo, and then lower your expectations just a bit.
It’s not that this fried mozzarella sandwich with tomato sauce was bad, it just didn’t particularly stand out. Texture and taste-wise it was solid, with a slightly greasy finish. I would not recommend it, but I wouldn’t recommend avoiding it, either. If you’ve got the Disney Dining Plan credits to burn, it’s a decent and filling comfort food option that’s very easy to share.
Cavatappi ai Quattro Formaggi – I’m not sure if calling this pasta al dente is entirely apt, as it was more like cooked properly and then reheated in a toaster or under a heat lamp. I’m no chef of Italian cuisine, but I don’t think that’s how pasta is supposed to be done.
This Holiday Kitchen bungling pasta is the Italy booth we all know and (don’t) love, but it’s really unfortunate here, as the cheese flavor delivers. The sauce is creamy and cheesy without being overly so, and the hint of truffle essence and texture of the crumble makes this surprisingly well-rounded. If you manage to score a batch of pasta that’s fresh and properly cooked, this would be a real winner. This is potentially worth the gamble if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan.
Crespelle di Mele – If you think of these as apple fritter donut holes, you’re going to be blown away. They’ll be the best donut holes you’ve ever had, with a perfectly crisp exterior and delicious sauces drizzled on top.
The thing is, I don’t think anyone, anywhere, ever has spent $4 on a single donut hole, which is the per fritter cost here. Once again, those with Disney Dining Plan credits might want to give this a look.
Bacio al Cioccolato – This warm hazelnut chocolate cake with a gooey center and topped with mascarpone cream was the unequivocal winner at the Tuscany Holiday Kitchen. It has a good amount going on, with the cream and warm center really carrying it.
It reminded me a bit of the Chocolate Wave, Coral Reef’s iconic dessert. Personally, I don’t think this is better than the Chocolate Wave, a table service dessert that is less expensive than one from an outdoor food cart. Walt Disney World visitors on the Dining Plan will absolutely want to order this.
None of these items are bad, which might be reassuring news for anyone who wants Italian food. Since most of the food at Festival of the Holidays is comfort food, you don’t really need Tuscany as an option for “playing it safe,” but it’s nonetheless there, and fills exactly that role. As indicated with each item, it’s also an excellent booth for those on the Disney Dining Plan.
Panettone Mignon – This is a pre-packaged item, so we skipped it. If the 4-star review on Amazon is any indication, this is the best item of the bunch!
In terms of Italian alcohol, here’s what’s on offer this year:
Moretti La Rossa Double Malt Beer
Ultimately, Tuscany was not bad from a culinary perspective, but we can’t give any of this food more than a tepid endorsement due to the pricing. We’d recommend avoiding everything here if you’re paying out of pocket, but those on the Disney Dining Plan might want to consider an item or two. The upside, if you’re an optimistic type of person, is that the Italy booth has been making baby steps over the last couple of years. We used to describe it as preying on unsuspecting tourists; now it’s middle of the pack–and that’s progress!
What do you think of the Tuscany Holiday Kitchen? Have you tried any of the food items at this booth? What did you think of them? Do you agree that Italy is making ‘baby steps’ in the right direction? What about our take that Italy is a perpetual underachiever at the Epcot festivals? Questions we can help you answer? 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!