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RESTAURANT REVIEW - Tony's Town Square @ Magic Kingdom

For those people who grow weary of the non-stop kidmosphere in Walt Disney World's flagship park, Kevin reviews this somewhat grown-up, sit-down restaurant.

Written by Kevin Baxter
Published: August 1, 2004 at 10:02 PM

From the official Walt Disney World website: Who can forget the memorable animated scene when Lady and the Tramp share the same piece of spaghetti? Relive the magic of that moment at this Italian trattoria inspired by the Disney animated classic. Enjoy antipasto, specialty pastas, sandwiches and pizzas. As the song goes "this is the night, it's a beautiful night," so split a meal with someone you love!

Wow. Relive the magic of that moment??? Yeah, we really need people rolling meatballs around with their noses! Or sucking on the same friggin' noodle!

While this blurb strains the whole Lady and the Tramp connection, at least there is a connection to be made. The Tony in this restaurant's name is the one who gives that famous spaghetti dinner to the pooches, for those who don't remember. Though that's about where the similarities end. Yeah, there's a fountain and pictures of the animal stars on the walls, but that doesn't have anything to do with the movie.

As for the romance angle mentioned in the blurb... PLEASE! Maybe romantic restaurants can be found somewhere in a theme park, like maybe Epcot, but not in the center of Kidtown USA. But due to its sit-down nature, and the fact that this one is situated between the main gate and Main Street, this is usually a good place to get away from the kids, for those that need to.

Not that the location is good for much else. If you happen to get a table near the front windows, you'll quickly find there isn't much to see through them. Except for meals eaten during parades, the only thing you'll see outside are people speeding to or from the front gates. It's no fun to people-watch when those people are on a mission.

There isn't much to the restaurant otherwise, but I do enjoy the back area more as it offers booths, which are a major improvement over the al fresco ambience they are trying too hard for in the front area.

As for the food, take a wild guess what direction the menu takes! Sushi! Unless you skipped over the first paragraph you already know Italian staples are predictably featured. Not that there's anything wrong with that, if done right. And, for the most part, they are done right here. The Calamari Fritti appetizer is fine and the pizzas don't disappoint, which is rare in a theme park.

There are a few surprise options on the menu, with the delicious Pomodori con Formaggio appetizer topping that list. Of course, most MK guests probably wouldn't touch corn-flour-encrusted goat cheese, but those people are missing out. The Pasta Ripieno con Pollo, a spinach-and-ricotta tortellini dish with chicken and veggies isn't a very surprising entree, but its creamy sauce is, at least when tomato-based sauces rule the menu.

In fact, most of the surprises are smaller in nature but they are sprinkled throughout the menu. Caper aioli here, saffron-fennel sauce there, kalamata olives over there. The cheeses also range far beyond the usual mozzarellas and ricottas. Joining the aforementioned goat cheese are tasty additions like feta, asiago and fontina. Mmmmmm... cheeeeese!

Speaking of which, on a subsequent visit I had the Bistecca ai Ferri, a NY Strip steak with something called a chiati glaze. That wasn't what interested me though, as the side dish for the steak was gorgonzola macaroni and cheese. I luuuuuvs me some mac 'n' cheese. The steak was okay, but I'm not much of a steak eater, so my friend ate half of it while I pigged on the macaroni. (It was good, but not spectacular.)

Not eating half the steak allowed me plenty of room for dessert, which I have found to be exceptional at most WDW sit-down restaurants. No different here, as the Dark Chocolate Cheesecake featured more than its name suggests, namely poached fruits and white chocolate shavings. My companion's Banana Bread Pudding held small surprises too, featuring chocolate gelato and candied walnuts, which I certainly could have done without. A walnut-free bite was tasty, but it couldn't compare to my cheesecake.

Prices here are probably a dollar or two too expensive for the Second Piatti section and the pizzas are probably three dollars too expensive. And that's just for lunch. The Seconds on the dinner menu are more extensive as well as more inventive, but they are about five bucks over where they should be. Plus, dinner probably is not a good idea for families because the menu is a little more adventurous and it doesn't appear that pizzas are even offered at night.

If you are too lazy to venture outside MK for a spectacular sit-down meal at one of the MK-area hotels, you'd do well to try out Tony's Town Square. On the TPI scale, I give it a 7 - Good.

Readers' Opinions

From Christian Nicely on August 2, 2004 at 5:23 PM
I had some pizza a believe here once. I don't go here ofen but it's ok.
What do yall like more pizza or spagetti?
From Joe Lane on August 2, 2004 at 10:27 PM
I'm fond of anything smothered in tomato sauce myself. Pizza, spaghetti, lasangna, meatball subs.

I ate at Tony's once upon a time and I can't quite remember the experience, but I don't doubt I enjoyed it--because Italian food is just the kind of stuff I dig.

From Kevin Baxter on August 3, 2004 at 2:08 AM
Now I'm NOT into the tomato sauces, which are basically the staples of Southern Italian cuisine. Northern Italy - basically from Rome north - features a lot more cream sauces, like Alfredo and, my personal favorite, alla panna. This menu is definitely a Southern Italian menu with hints of Northern Italy thrown in here and there.
From Deborah Davis on August 3, 2004 at 6:17 AM
This was always my favorite restaurant in MK (not that there's much competition). As AP holders we could get a free kids meal or desert with each adult entree, so it often came out cheaper than hot dogs and fries at Casey's. I don't know if they still offer that discount (we let our passes lapse this year).

I can't believe none of you mentioned the bread dipping sauce. That stuff is awesome! When I told the server that they should bottle & sell it, she gave me the recipe. It has a sh*t-load of expensive ingredients, but if you want it you can email me and I'll send it to you.

From Kevin Baxter on August 4, 2004 at 2:34 AM
Okay, I totally forgot about the bread sauce! I don't even recall it that well, but I totally remember enjoying the bread portion of the dinner. Another reason why eating only half the steak wasn't so bad.

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