Mar 30

Review on Chips and Slices – more soon

Laurie found a new spot for some quick service food.  She will be bringing us more later.

I found a hidden spot for lunch at Saratoga Springs Resort called Chips & Slices. It is a quick service snack bar next to the Pro Shop that has a patio and lakefront views. The ferry dock is right across the way. snack standThey have yogurt parfait, breakfast bread, and breakfast sandwiches in the morning. They offer chili dogs, hot dogs, wraps, paninis, salads, chicken wings, pretzels, candy and snacks, Starbucks coffee, soda pop, power drinks, fruit juice, beer, margaritas, and mixed drinks. I plan to pop in and try them soon then I will be updating how they deal with special diets and dining plans if any.

Mar 29

WDW Golf

Laurie had the privilege of visiting Magnolia Pro Shop.  She was told about a power chair that lifts guests to a standing position so they can actually play golf.  She what else she found out.

I asked what made Magnolia Pro Shop and her courses so special. Finally I was told about a solar rider wheelchair that is free for guests to use. Stand-up wheelchairs and power chairs allow a person to rise up to a standing position from their chair seat. I had seen a Youtube video of a surgeon who used such a chair.golf1 What stands out is how the man at the shop beamed as he spoke about guests who could play golf for the first time in years. He had a joy from the memories within him of disabled guests doing what once was unheard of. Contact the pro shops for more information and to make sure the chair is available. Golf courses and pro shops are dime a dozen but people like the staff at the WDW pro shops are rare and a treasure.

In 1971, WDW opened the Magnolia Golf Course and the Palm Golf Course. Then in 1972, they opened the Lake Buena Vista Golf Course. These Joe Lee designed PGA championship courses come with a two-seat golf cart that has a sand bucket for filling divots, a small cooler, and a cover for your clubs in case it rains. Attendants will fill your cooler with ice and your golf cart has GPS to assist you with navigation. golf2Cart drivers must be at least 16 years old and have a valid driver’s license (permits do not count) otherwise they must ride with an adult who has a valid driver’s license. In 1989, they opened the Ron Garl designed Oak Trail which is a 9-hole walking course with no golf carts but guests may rent a pull cart for their clubs. The 18-hole courses have restrooms and shelters while Oak Trail has just shelters. The pro shops will store your clubs during your stay and, with notice, will move your clubs to another course. Guests must wear proper attire which is polo shirts, mock turtlenecks, and turtleneck shirts for men while women must wear polo shirts, suitable shirts, and blouses (collar optional). Guests must wear slacks or Bermuda shorts while women may wear skirts. Guests may wear golf shoes without metal spikes or tennis shoes. Right handed, left-handed, and junior golf clubs, as well as shoes, may be rented. DVC, resort guests, and military guests pay nothing for shoe rentals.

Magnolia Palms Pro Shop is located next to Shades of Green Resort. They have a wonderful staff who can help make your golf experience special. They have a fridge with cold beer, soda pop, bottled water, and power drinks. They bring in from another WDW site the hot dogs, wraps, breakfast sandwiches, chips, beer, soda pop, bottled water, and snacks that they sell on the course at the comfort station. Eligible guests may dine and shop at Shades of Green. All others must walk down to the Polynesian Resort for a bar and dinner. They have a putting green, driving range, free loaner bags, showers, and free lockers. The Oak Trail course is compact and designed for very little walking from hole to hole. Guests may ask to do two rounds for 18 holes. Using a car, one goes through Magic Kingdom tollbooth up the road on the right to the first light. Turn left and follow the signs to where the road turns right then left at Shades of Green resort. Parking is free if you tell the attendant you are golfing. Shades of Green was the clubhouse then a Disney deluxe resort for golfers. Golfers no longer have a restaurant to hang out in unless they have proof, such as military, retired military, Department of Defense, spouses, and some others. Magnolia course offers a Mickey Mouse shaped bunker on the 6th hole.

Lake Buena Vista Golf Course is located at the former Disney Institute location that is now Saratoga Springs. Upstairs is the lobby with a hallway that stretches across the building. Off that hall are bathrooms, sofas to relax in, Artist Palette (quick service restaurant), a gift shop, and a hallway that leads to The Turf Club restaurant. There is a ramp and stairs down to the back of the Pro Shop and the ferry dock. Guests may park in front of the pro shop and there is a bag drop off area in front of the pro shop. The side that faces the ferry landing has a snack shop and patio. GolfThey have a putting green, driving range, free loaner bag, showers, and free lockers. Guests must ask at their resort for a free taxi. There is a water ferry to Downtown Disney and several resorts that golfers can take to bars and restaurants. The water ferry closes when there is lightening and high winds. The only other option is taking two buses to get there. LBGV offers many more amenities once a guest is done with a round of golf but Magnolia offers 3 courses including the walking course.

Both pro shops offer the cutest baby clothing with Disney characters in a golf theme. There is offer golf attire for men, women, and children. Their adult apparel includes straw hats, gloves, socks, shoes, shorts, shirts, jackets, ball caps, belt buckles, and scarves with some clothing in size 2X large. They carry a very nice line of Crabtree and Evelyn products as well as sunscreen and lip balm. Their shops are a great place for gift shopping for that golfer in your life. I so want that buttery soft $700 leather shoulder bag but I did get me a stone magnet for the fridge. They offer Disney themed balls, divot fixer, ball markers, towel, club covers, coasters, and magnets as well as huge umbrellas, clubs, backpacks, bag tags, cuff links, and sunglasses. Lake Buena Vista pro shop has a discount area with 40% off of a few items like baby rompers and ladies shirts.

golf4I strongly recommend that guests check out the official WDW golf site at and call 1-407-WDW-GOLF if they still have questions. Disney’s Magnolia, Palm and Oak Trail Golf Courses are next to Shades of Green Resort and are run by the Magnolia Palms Pro Shop. WDW Golf is an unofficial site that shows you the layout of the courses. Reservations must be secured with a credit card. Guests must report changes in group size and cancellations at 24 hours before tee time or face charges on their credit card. Resort guests save $5 on an 18-hole round of golf. The bigger savings are offered to those who play later in the day. The Twilight discount that starts at different times during the year and one hour after that is the Super Twilight discount, that is over half off. Twilight, Military, Resort, and DVC discounts are given on golf club rentals. Juniors (17 years and under) get a discount only at Oak Trails. I had a pleasant time with the staff at both Pro Shops as I watched them give a deep discount to someone late in the day. Do not be surprised if you get a deeply discounted round of golf if you arrive late in the day. They charge for non-playing guests who ride along. Area residents can check out the $29 a month club that gives free use of driving range and $15 for cart rental (no other fees) during certain times of the day. The Oak Trail course for is free for members.

The Unofficial Walt Disney World Golf Guide

Mar 20


Laurie has news for us on Easter and Mother’s Day dinners at Portobello……..


Portobello News – Easter and Mother’s Day dinner, local beers, Easter dinner is Spring themed with Caprese salad; lamb chops, creme risotto, and mint gastric; and carrot panna cotta.

I hope the Easter Bunny does not find out about the carrot panna cotta. Their $39 per person Mother’s Day menu will be treat mothers to Arugula, and citrus vinaigrette; lobster ravioli with brown butter and pine nuts; and creme brulee bread pudding. Come by for Orlando Brewing’s certified organic beer that is made locally. I highly recommend Portobello for their dedicated chefs who work hard to offer gluten free pasta, vegan dinners, and accommodate special diets. My last meal there seemed normal instead of plain rice and meat with veggies. Few, if any, would see the modifications the chef made to meet my dietary restrictions. Portobello is a warm, friendly Italian villa that has opened her kitchen and home to guests. It has good lighting, a patio, full bar, and disabled friendly.

Mar 20

The Perfect Meal!

Laurie had THE Perfect meal!  See where she went for that meal.  Sounds delicious to me!

I parked next to the Pro Shop at Lake Buena Vista Golf Course without knowing what was in store for me.  I had been exploring WDW and wanted to see the Pro Shop.  I was told about a very nice restaurant upstairs so I went out the door, past the snack stand, up some stairs, and finally up a long winding ramp to a building full of windows and a patio where I found at lounge and a seater’s podium.  I was in The Turf Club at Saratoga Springs which is a DVC resort themed after Saratoga Race Course and Saratoga Springs in New York. Truf ClubThe horse racing theme can be seen in the restaurant’s hunter green carpet with leaping steeple jumpers and winner’s wreaths as well as the numerous framed ephemera, memorabilia, and jockey silks.  As early as the 1830’s the rich headed to Saratoga for gambling, dining, posh resorts, and vacations from city life.  The society column, potato chip, and club sandwich were born there.  The restaurant has clean low pile carpet with a horse theme, wood chairs, banquettes, and decorations that give this restaurant a warm, comfortable feeling.  Most guests will not have a problem with the seating, lighting, noise, or access.

Turf Club7I had a two top table against the glass so I could look out at the heated patio, lawns, water, and ferry boat.  On the walls are picture frames with various horse racing memorabilia.  The seating is wood chairs without arms and booth type seating at tables that are spaced sufficiently to not feel crowded.  Chef Omar came out to speak to me about my dinner.  Turf Club6Turf Signature Grilled Romaine Salad with lightly grilled hearts of romaine with Caesar dressing, balsamic vinegar reduction, roasted cherry tomatoes, and Parmesan cheese.  Everything in this salad is dairy, soy and gluten/wheat free.  They offer gluten/wheat free rolls with real butter or margarine if you prefer.  The balsamic reduction with its sweet and tangy notes was thick and gooey like honey.  The Caesar dressing has flecks of a hard cheese which is imitation cheese that is dairy, soy, and gluten/wheat free.  It is so yummy and creamy with Italian dressing notes that make me want to come back for more salads.
Turf Club4They brine their pork chops for 24 hours in root beer.  Out came a perfect pork chop with salt, pepper, brown sugar, and root beer brine.  OH MY, it was delicious tender white meat with earthy root beer notes and just a tiny touch of sweetness.  The sweet potato hash was soft cubes of sweet pure bliss.  I stared at a round yellow disc not knowing what to expect from the polenta cake.  I could not stop eating the polenta cake as each bite had notes of thyme, onion, corn bits, and very finely ground polenta.  The polenta was so smooth that it could have been used as a spread on bread.  Three of my favorite foods on one plate put me into a euphoria of sheer joy.  The chef used to work at Kona Cafe and has been in the business long enough to know how to turn fresh ingredients into mouth watering taste sensations.

The one sour note in the entire meal was the port wine ice cream.  I have never been a fan of alcohol not even before my religion and stomach said no to alcohol. Turf Club5 I was repulsed by the ice cream but that is me not the restaurant.  There was a very dark wedge of flourless chocolate cake with chocolate sauce on bright red raspberry sauce that was topped with half a ripe strawberry and whipped cream.  I started with the cutest little cup of port wine ice cream then went for the whipped cream to cleanse my palate.  On the cake were blueberries and bright red raspberries that gave a change of pace to my palate.  The cake was like a thick, rich mousse that made for one of the best desserts I have had in a long while.  The combination of berry tang with sweet decadent chocolate made for one happy diner.

Turf Club2The menu is small but the food is big in taste.  They offer lamb, chicken breast, pork chop, prime rib, salmon and pasta.  The fish of the day was corvina that was right off the docks.  They offer no sugar added Berry-Misu as well as buttered toffee pot de creme and cheesecake.  The chef will do substitutions such as mashed potatoes instead of broccolini.  Babycakes will deliver a gluten and soy free vegan cake to the restaurant for a fee.  The chef can offer vegans sweet potato hash, asparagus, romaine salad, coucous, rice, broccolini, sauteed greens, seasonal vegetables, sorbets and other dishes but most important was that the chef wants to please guests even if he has to make a dish from scratch.  With advanced notice they can offer vegan cheese and tofu as well as other special diet items.

On your right as you enter The Turf Club there is a window that serves drinks to guests in the lounge.  They have a sports channel on the television, a pool table, and comfortable seating.  Turf Club7Guests of the retaurant can order anything from this full bar right from their seat.  They feature Blue Point Toasted Lager that comes from Long Island just 200 miles south of Saratoga Springs in New York.  They offer mint juleps as well as themed drinks such as Travers Stakes, Three Minutes to Post Time, and The Preakness Cosmo.  Down the hall from the restaurant and lounge is Artist’s Palette that has quick service food, a DVC type market, and a gift shop.

At this point I sum up the good and bad points of a restaurant.  Except for the port wine ice cream and the ramps I have nothing bad to say about this restaurant.  I hate alcohol most of the time and hate ramps so that is my issue not the restaurant’s issue.  PERFECT DINNER, GREAT RESTAURANT, TOP RESTAURANT IN FINE DINING!!!

Mar 12

The Truth about Shades of Green

Laurie had the chance to head over to the Shades of Green and she gives us her input.  Even though I cannot book Shades of Green for you, I wanted to be sure to let those know that qualify to stay here, what it was like.  Looks great to me.
Over and over I have heard people direct someone away from Shades of Green.  I popped in there and was shocked that I did not see quonset huts with one mess hall, a PX, and a parade ground.  I had heard a few good words about Shades of Greens but not much praise.  I knew what I should be seeing based on her history.  I decided to write this article to let everyone know the many good things about Shades of Green and why I wish I could stay there a week.Shades of Green
The resort was built of volcanic rock and wood to give the feel of a Southern country club.  It opened in 1971 as a 2 story clubhouse for the golf courses and in December, 1973, it was opened as the Golf Resort.  The goal was to provide guests with 490 square foot suite like rooms in a quiet and relaxing atmosphere.  In 1986, the resort was renovated with a Snow White theme and was called The Disney Inn.  In 1994, the Department of Defense took over the resort and has been operating at near capacity since then.  They remodeled, doubled the number of rooms, added a parking garage, added meeting rooms, and added a fitness center while retaining that elite country club look.  This is extremely exclusive so that anyone not eligible may not walk the grounds, eat at restaurants, or buy a cup of coffee unlike other WDW resorts.  The only way someone not eligible can do those things if they are a guest of someone eligible or have someone eligible with them.  I went across the street to Kona Cafe to eat mushroom soup, baked chicken, roasted squash, roasted purple potatoes, and cinammon gelato that came with bacon brittle.  
Shades of Green is cracking down on outsiders coming into their resort.  Currently anyone can walk into the lobby and walk around the grounds.  I read that they are going to change it so that one must be eligible, with someone eligible, or have a room key that shows they are staying onsite with an eligible member.  I was checking out a store when a woman was denied her purchase but a nice guy said she was with him.
She did not have proof of eligibility so the young man was the answer. Shades of Green9The eligible person must be a registered guest of the hotel, must check in and out on the same day as sponsored guests, and be responsible for sponsored persons. Eligible persons not staying at Shades of Green may visit the resort and partake in the dining and some other stuff.  Only registered guests may use the pool, yoga studio, and gym. I am not trying to explain who is eligible.  There are 3 tiers for room rates based on rank or grade.  A cadet pays tier 1 for the first room and tier 2 for the second room which you see is part of the complexity of the rules for the resort.    
Kids under 6 eat free at the buffet.  The buffet has Build A Cookie once a week, Build A Pizza once a week, and a weekly Carnival Night. Kids will enjoy the free wifi, cable television, and Raytheon Family Technology Center that offers free use of computers.  Magnolia Pool is the quiet pool with shallow entry.  There is a kiddie pool and playground as well as pool activities.  Pools are heated to 84 degrees and have a lifeguard.  Planned for the warmer seasons are outdoor movies.  The arcade has cards for sale that give up to 33% in bonus credits.  Magnolia Spa offers children ages 4-12 beginning facials, massages, pedicures, and manicures.  Guests aged 12 – 18 may use any of the adult procedures if accompanied by an adult. The Princess Makeover offers 3 hair styles, makeup, tiara, and glitter for $30 and there is a discount with receipt at the Exchange on a princess gown and tiara.  
I drove to the resort expecting a one-star motel.  I was shocked to see what seemed to me to be Cypress Gardens type of landscaping.  For $5 a day there is the parking garage and for $10 guests may use the valet.  They let guests drop off passengers in front of the lobby. Shades of Green3 I was taken aback by the beautiful rock waterfall that greets you before you enter the lobby.  The lobby has high ceilings with heavy use of beams.  There are comfortable places to rest especially by the fireplace and windows that face the gazebo area.  Shades of Green tries hard to provide for everything a guest may need or want during their stay.  Shades of Green1They offer Alamo car rental, scooter and power chair rentals (fee), Raytheon free computer access, airline check in, shuttle to the street where one can walk to Polynesian, shuttle around the resort, package delivery from parks, Early Magic Hours that provides extended hours in parks on certain days, banquet rooms, laundry, and large rooms.  Anything one could need for a vacation is at this resort.
The quiet Magnolia Pool has shallow steps for guests to walk into the pool and a hot tub with disabled transfer seat.  They are remodeling the Mickey Mouse head shaped Millpond Pool that has disabled access, nearby playground, kiddie pool, and Evergreens.  Shades of Green6Evergreens is a sports bar, with pool tables and games, that serves hot dogs, sandwiches, nachos, wings, pizza and burgers.  The Fitness Center offers weight machines, treadmills and steppers.  The Yoga Center offers free Zumba and Yoga classes.  There are meandering paths for jogging and strolling.  Kids can feed the koi at the pond or run around the lawns.  There is the Arcade in the Magnolia wing where you can find arcade games, pool tables, and air hockey games.  There are tennis courts that nobody uses, so call ahead on equipment availability.  The laundry rooms have drinks, microwave, and soap but it is cheaper to buy the soap at the Exchange.  There is a golf cart to take guests to the main road or around the resort.
The AAFES Exchange shop is tax free and offers groceries, sundries, and Disney gifts.  The exchange offers everything one needs to set up their own bar including beer, wine coolers, wine, Kahlua, brandy, Maker’s Mark, vodka, Southern Comfort, and those little mini bottles.  They have cigars in a display case and cigarettes behind the counter.  The inventory is limited for babies as they have one type of baby food, Enfamil, Destin, diapers, and other baby items.  For your home away from home they have foam plates, plasticware, cups, laundry powder, softener, and dish soap.  The fridge has milk, juice, power drinks, soda pop, and water.  They carry cereal, peanut butter, Pringles, nuts, chips, saltine and snack crackers, Pop Tarts, animal crackers, candy and mints, gum, jelly, cup of soup, and Entemanns to name a few of the items in stock.  Shades of Green2These are the largest regular rooms on WDW at around 500 square feet instead of the 265 square feet for a value room.  Standard rooms include 2 queen sized beds, separate vanity with two sinks, mini fridge, cable television, wifi, safe that is larger than normal, and tasteful decor.  Some suites have a king sized bed, 2 sofa sleepers, and a murphy bed to sleep 8 guests.  Suites have a microwave, mini fridge, hair dryer (on request), iron, ironing board, separate dining area, balcony or patio, kitchenette, 2 bathrooms, and separate living room.
The resort is tax free even the shops and restaurants.  There are no resort fees and cars are charged $5 a day for parking.  They regularly offer early bird discounts with one for the end of August, 2014, one for Spring, and one for May at $89 to $115 a night.  Survivor Family Program offers 50% discount to the family of an active service man and have DB or URW status.  Sunrise Package offers a room and breakfast for two persons for $111 to $143 per day average cost (best to aim for other discounts).  Shades of Green5DOD and Military staying on an OEF/OIF for 270 or more consecutive days receive 20% discount on rooms and some restaurants.  Red, White, & Blue offers breakfast, dinner, server tips, and room for 2 guests at $140 to $175 per day on average.  It might be cheaper to get a short term discount such as the early bird as the $50 to $60 might be better used on WDW dining.  They have a ticket sales desk that offers tax free discounted tickets throughout central Florida.  Mangino’s offers specials such as all you can eat prime rib with sides for $21.95 and shrimpfest for $18.95.  
Shades of Green10I would rather stay at Shades of Green than a moderate resort at WDW as it offers similar amenities as the Grand Floridian resort including tax free shopping, large rooms, arcades, bars, restaurants, beautiful grounds, pools, peaceful resort, well guarded, well maintained, spa, and a covered parking garage.  $89 to $150 a night versus the $350 plus a night for other deluxe hotels.  It makes me wonder why someone would give up luxury for a value resort.  April 4, 2014 is the Shades of Music event and there are chef dinners that are above what is normally served at Mangino’s.  The money saved each day could be used on Disney dining, souvenirs and character meals. I am adding this to my wish list and hope to stay here someday.  So, have you stayed at Shades of Green?  What are your thoughts?  Leave us a comment if you have stayed here.

Mar 12

World Wide of Sports……latest info on the Playstation Pavillion

Just heard this from a friend of mine……

Wide World of Sports has closed its Playstation Pavillion as of today. The pavilion offered Playstation device rentals at about $5 per half hour so that guests could play Playstation sports themed games. Staff has no clue to what is going in there but it will be either a private room or entertainment of some sort.

Mar 05

Italian Cuisine Showdown – Tutto Italia vs Portobello

Laurie gives us the showdown on the two Italian restaurants.  See what she has to say and what she experienced.  I must apologize for the spacing on this too.  I can’t get it to space correctly to save my life.  🙂

I have avoided Italian cuisine until I ate at Portobello in Downtown Disney at WDW.  I finally was convinced that I could eat safely in a restaurant that made pasta because I cannot eat gluten/wheat and soy. Comparing the two restaurants is like comparing poodles to greyhounds.  Tutto Italia gets many customers from guests in Epcot who want a sit down restaurant meal in the park. The restaurant needs high turn over of guests as they have a constant supply of guests.   Portobello is a Downtown Disney destination for locals as well as WDW guests.  They must stand on their own as if they were in Downtown Chicago or Downtown Peoria.   Portobello has to work harder to get and keep customers through high reputation, word of mouth, and guest experiences. Definitely two different types of restaurants even though they both have the same cuisine.
Tutto Italia is hidden on the left side of the courtyard in Italy pavillion in Epcot.  The first problem was the greeter who told me to go over there and wait for someone.  SCOOTER!!  She immediately turned away in preparation for anyone that might come up to her podium.  Finally, vaguely she pointed to the ramp which took me by the wine cellar that serves a bar menu and Tutto Italia cuisine.  I was faced with a sea of red velvet ropes so I moved one out of my way.  I was confused as there was nobody to assist me since I came from the side.  As I went to the rope blocking me from entering from the side a party of 4 passed by me.  A grumpy old man came out to wait on them and I spoke up.  He said that they went first as the restaurant had a 4-top available.  I do not like grumpy staff and I do not like being ignored.  He said all scooters have to sit out in the rain..  I had to pack my park bag with the scooter charger, round up stuff, and ended up carrying a lot of stuff.  I was seated in a side room which is between a main dining room and a dining area that overlooks the courtyard.  The manager came up after finding out I was gluten/wheat and soy free.  I was handed only the gluten free menu but I prefer all menus so I can see if the chef can adapt something.  The best thing was the perky Italian speaking waitress who through the night kept things moving along, knew her menu and made the storm clouds go away.
Portobello has no stairs or terrace, guests are welcomed at the greeter station inside the restaurant, and when possible scooters are parked indoors.  Staff welcomed me like family, explained where to wait, and made the visit go smoothly.  The greeter’s station is in the foyer that is tastefully decorated with Italian knick knacks and decorations.  I quickly was escorted to a table in a warm rustic dining area with tasteful Italian decorations.  Portobello is a Tuscan style villa whereas Tutto Itallia is a Disney version of Joe’s Spaghetti House.  Tony’s Town Square Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom looks more like an Italian restaurant than Tutto Italia.  The side dining area in Tutto Italia has terra cotta colored walls, dark wood moulding, and framed prints.  The main dining room has murals on the walls, dark wood, comfortable seating, chandeliers, and big vases of glass. They do keep the dark floral carpet clean and use a broom under tables.  There is excellent lighting with easy disabled access.  It was rather quiet and my neighbors were seated far enough away.  It is nice not to have a waiter squeezing in to speak to you or having to hear everything someone says.
The way the two restaurants handle special diets shows how one is driven by turn over of guests while the other is driven by customer satisfaction and experience.  The chef at Portobello came to my table to discuss my dinner and would have made me a dish off the menu just to make me happy.  Tutto Italia has managers doing the special diet orders thus keeping the chefs in the kitchen. IMG_2950 Unlike the warm buns at Portobello the Tutto Italia manager brought out 3 slices of warmed bread (not toasted) and individual pats of butter.  I asked if it was because of my diet and he said that they serve all guests individual pats of butter.  They do not provide butter knifes so you have to lick the knife clean so you can use it on the salad and entree.  Two different types of gluten free bread were from Lo*Pro which were extremely dense that were not worth eating.  I ate one a bit with butter and stopped.  I rather use GNI and Udi products or corn tortillas.  The raisin bread smelled like cinnamon raisin bread but was very dense, sorry, I did not get the brand.  I wish they had GNI, Udi’s, or even French Meadow dinner rolls.  The gluten free offerings were not good for sopping up the yummy juices and sauces in the entrees.
They brought out the beautiful Insalata Mista that had me in awe since I was expecting a typical mixed salad.  IMG_2956They thinly slice watermelon radish then immerse the slice in an ice bath so that it curl to mimic a flower.  It looked like a slice of watermelon with dark rind, translucent white center, and various shades of rose pink.  I do not like asparagus and was dreading more chomping on wood stems until I tried the tender white asparagus the size of my pinky finger.  There was a clear flavor with the crunch of a crisp young green onion.  I WANT MORE!!!  There was a fresh blend of radicchio, arugula, and arugula.  This tasty salad was dressed with a basalmic vinaigrette that in spots was broken into oil and vinegar.  Next came the Bistecca de Macellaio which is grilled “butcher steak”, roasted rosemary potatoes, and agrodolce cipoline onions.  One of the most flavorful cuts of meat is the hanger steak which sometimes is known as the butcher steak. Unlike filets this steak should have tender beef as well as gristle, sinew, and fat.  I will eat almost any temperature of steak but order steaks medium well.  The easiest way to tell if meat is done is by poking it for firmness and my steak was very soft.    It was a flavorful steak with proper seasoning with a green onion and tomato salsa on top.  There was way too much gristle and sinew in the meat that most guests would have sent it back.  No amount of pounding and marinade could have saved that piece of meat.  IMG_2963Under the steak was properly seasoned roasted rosemary potatoes and cipollini onions. The onions were cooked to soft sweetness without the harsh notes of a raw onion.  Agrodolce is a blend of oil, vinegar, sugar, and sometimes raisins for one of my favorite side dishes ever .    Overall I could eat this meal every day if they used a better cut of steak and more heat on the steak.  This seemed more fit for an American diner and far better than my American cooking.
I was disappointed that the only item on the gluten free menu was panna cotta.  There was no gelati or sorbets.  IMG_2976Be warned that the amarine cherries are soaked in alcohol and should not be on the panna cotta.  My religion, my stomach, and my palate refuse to accept alcohol which was not noted on the menu.  I learned my lesson from a past experience so I asked for the cherries to be held.  The chef did not add another fruit but just offered a glass of chocolate panna cotta.  HEAVEN, icy smooth chocolate hits your palate and melts away.  I could have eaten a very large bowl.  There was no gelatti or sorbets for me unlike Portobello which offered me creme brulee, gelatti, sorbeti, ice cream, fresh fruit, and panna cotta.  At Portobello I am offered soup, 2 -4 salads, antipasti, 3-5 appetizers, pizza, 2 pork dishes, 2 fish dishes, 2 chicken dishes, spaghetti bolognose and other pasta dishes, and 4 or 5 desserts.  The amount items available for special diets is far greater at Tony’s in Magic Kingdom and Portobello.
RECOMMENDATION:  If you want chefs coming to your table for special diets, authentic rustic themed restaurant, and wider variety of pasta then head to Portobello.  For a cheaper family dinner that has a chef coming out for special diets, has quaint Italian decor, and great food then go to Tony’s Town Square Restaurant.  I was happier at Portobello where the chefs and management rearrange the dishes to meet the customer’s limitations.  Overall the food is excellent, waitress was awesome, and good for guests with disabilities.  I would love to try something else that is more Italian this time.  You cannot go wrong eating at Tutto Italia.
Overall the only problems I had were kitchen issues that any restaurant can have. I had a wonderful meal, I never had to ask for more tea, was asked over and over again if I needed anything, had a perfect waitress, and was relaxed when I left the restaurant.  I recommend this restaurant as the theme is not important, kitchens make mistakes, and any issues are likely to just be because of my diet and attitude.  They can handle 290 pound ladies like me, wheelchairs, and special diets.  This was a lot less noisy than Tony’s in Magic Kingdom.  If you want chefs coming to your table for special diets, authentic rustic themed restaurant, and wider variety of pasta then head to Portobello.  For a cheaper family dinner that has a chef coming out for specia diets, has quaint Italian decor, and great food then go to Tony’s Town Square Restaurant.  I was happier at Portobello where the chefs and management rearrange the dishes to meet the customer’s limitations.  I would love to try something else that is more Italian next time.  You cannot go wrong eating at Tutto Italia and I recommend them for a nice dinner in Epcot.