Below you will find my review of Mama Melrose’s Ristorante dinner, an Italian table service restaurant located in Hollywood Studios.
Disney World has no shortage of Italian restaurants, and if you happen to be in Hollywood Studios and looking for Italian you’ll find Mama Melrose. I’m going to be honest – if you’re looking for pasta or pizza and you’re willing to go outside of the theme parks (resorts and Disney Springs) you’ll find many better Italian options. But I had a day planned in Hollywood Studios and needed 4 nights of pasta so I could do some serious carb loading for the Dopey Challenge. So the night before the 5k we planned a Mama Melrose dinner.
The atmosphere of this restaurant is rather interesting and has a whole made-up backstory. According to Disney’s website, “Once upon a time, a young girl from a small Sicilian village moved to Hollywood to become a star. However, she soon found that cooking was her true calling as she re-created her papa’s secret recipes for her starving actor friends.” As a result Mama Melrose’s Ristorante has a very Hollywood feel to it, with caricatures of celebrities on the walls and random “props” from various movies. It’s also decorated with pretty string lights.
We’d had a really wonderful dinner at Mama Melrose’s once before, I think way back in 2013. Then we had another decent experience there a few years later, so it seemed time to revisit it.
The meal started with your typical rolls and olive oil. Nothing super interesting but warm, soft rolls are always welcome at the beginning of a meal, especially if you’ve been walking around a theme park for awhile and have worked up an appetite.
We started with an appetizer of Vine Ripened Tomatoes and Fresh Mozzarella (Balsamic Drizzle, Olive Oil, and Sweet Basil Leaves):
This was fine. Nothing special but it fit the bill. Tomatoes can really make or break a dish like this and these weren’t super flavorful tomatoes but it worked.
My friend had the Spaghetti and Meatballs (with House-made Marinara, garnished with Pecorino Romano Cheese and Parsley):
Honestly, if you’re going to eat here this is probably the type of dish you should get, rather than anything more “fancy.” This was a solid dish of spaghetti and meatballs. It was also a huge portion so if you’re hungry you’ll probably get your money’s worth.
I ordered the Shrimp Campanelle (Sautéed Shrimp and Campanelle Pasta tossed in a Four-Cheese Sauce with Cauliflower, Sun-dried Tomatoes, fresh Spinach, and Sweet Onions):
I love pasta, and I feel like it’s really hard to have a “bad” pasta dish. There are some great ones, but for the most part you can’t really mess up pasta and sauce, right? Wrong, because this was pretty bad. The four-cheese sauce was just not good. In retrospect I almost have to wonder if there was something wrong with this batch of sauce. I like sharp cheese flavor but this was so sharp it was downright bitter. I’ve since looked at other photos of this dish from people who dined there and the color of my sauce looks different than other dishes. I probably should have sent it back, but I just ate about half of it and a bunch of rolls instead.
Jason went with the Saltimbocca (Pork Tenderloin topped with Prosciutto, Sage, Fontina Cheese, Tuscan Mashed Potatoes, Broccolini, and Lemon Caper Sauce):
While this one wasn’t bad, it also wasn’t anything amazing. I guess you the plus side you can see that they definitely didn’t skimp on the cheese here. I always ask Jason to comment on the dishes he eats so I can include them on the blog. If he likes something you can tell because he will give me detailed information. For something like this all I can get out of him is “it was fine.” So that probably speaks for itself.
I think it will be a long time before we eat at Mama Melrose’s again. It is just nothing special and in this case I experienced an entree that was downright bad (and I’m not super picky. I may not love something but it’s hard to get me to really dislike a dish). It’s really mediocre Italian food at prices that are too high. If you’re looking for good Italian I recommend Maria and Enzo’s at Disney Springs, Via Napoli at Epcot, or Trattoria al Forno on the Boardwalk. If you’re looking for a reasonable table service meal in Hollywood Studios I think Sci-Fi Dine In and 50’s Prime Time Cafe are both better options.
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Have you tried Mama Melrose’s Ristorante? How was your experience?