Lunch at Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano in Disney's Hollywood Studios

Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano has been a table service staple at Disney's Hollywood Studio for decades. Tucked in the far back of the Muppets Courtyard, past 'PizzaRizzo' and 'It's A Wonderful Shop', the brightly colored awning and streamers of overhead flags welcome hungry guests to come inside and enjoy a meal. My son and I recently stopped in to try Mama Melrose's for lunch.

Mama Melrose's Ristorante ItalianoMama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano

Walking into the lobby feels like just what you'd expect from a family owned Italian Restaurant just about anywhere in the America. The atmosphere is kitschy yet comforting, cheerful Italian music plays in the background, pictures of the celebrities that had eaten there are placed with honor on the wall, and figurines of putti dance playfully amongst the vines of plastic grapes. The painted wall declares "In Vino Veritas" which is a is a Latin phrase that means "in wine, truth."

We checked in at the podium a few minutes prior to our reservation time and were handed a pager by the customary friendly cast member. They hadn't begun seating yet and the lobby was quickly filling with families milling about while they waited. We took a seat by the window and waited until the buzzer went off. From my spot I could see into the open kitchen, and when the brigade noticed my camera, they insisted they pose for a picture.

Mama's Lobby Podium Is a Bustling PlaceMama's Lobby Podium Is a Bustling Place
In Vino VeritasIn Vino Veritas
Mama's Kitchen Brigade Poses For A PictureMama's Kitchen Brigade Poses For A Picture

Soon the pager buzzed and our server Dori lead us through the restaurant. The theme continued into the seating area with its low hanging trellis design covered in grape vines and fairy lights. The booths were covered in red, and checkered fabric curtains helped to divide the room, cheese and sausage hangs in the rafters right along side pink flamingos and vinyl records.

We were seated at a table towards the back of the restaurant, and even though it was fairly full by the time we left, the space never felt overcrowded. There was a friendly energy that pervaded the restaurant, it reached back into my childhood memories and mingled with every Italian family restaurant I had ever been to.

Booths By The Window Are LovelyBooths By The Window Are Lovely
Comfortable and Kitschy Interior DecorComfortable and Kitschy Interior Decor

Dori asked for our drink orders while we looked at the menu. I ordered the White Sangria. It was light and fruity, a very drinkable choice for sweltering heat we were experiencing.

The bread service was nothing special, in fact it made me question very quickly if I had made the wrong choice in eating there at all. Non-descript vaguely cibatta shaped rolls, accompanied with a mound of dried Italian herbs covered in the most bitter olive oil I ever tasted. To her credit, Dori realized that something was wrong and pressed me to tell her what was up. She quickly brought is a new bread basket and fresh bottles of vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper. The olive oil that they were using was still very bitter, the balsamic vinegar is pretty fantastic, so be sure to ask your server for some.

Light and Fruity White SangriaLight and Fruity White Sangria
Bread Service For The TableBread Service For The Table

Being on the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan we were in for a lot of food at this meal. Kirk and I both decided to start with a fresh salad. He ordered Mama's Caesar Salad with Romaine Lettuce, Parmesan Dressing, and Herb Croutons. It was a pretty basic caesar, rather bland and unremarkable, but at least a step up from the bread service.

I ordered the Fresh Mozzarella and Vine-ripened Tomatoes, Balsamic Drizzle, Olive Oil, and Sweet Basil Leaves. I always love the simplicity of this dish, it's made for showcasing the best ingredients in a pure form. The tomatoes were super ripe and fresh, the mozzarella average, the balsamic highlighting it all with just the right pop. Overall both of our starters had a real lack of seasoning to them. More kudos here to our server Dori who had earlier made sure we had salt and pepper on the table.

Mama's Caesar SaladMama's Caesar Salad
Fresh Mozzarella and Vine-ripened TomatoesFresh Mozzarella and Vine-ripened Tomatoes

At this point my son and I were a little uneasy about what the next course would hold. As we waited for our entrees to arrive, I finished my sangria, content in the mellowing effects that it was having. Dori brought our plates out from the kitchen, and the delicious aroma that wafted up from the table gave me hope.

I had ordered the Charred Strip Steak (well done) with Four-Cheese Macaroni with Pancetta, Aged Balsamic-Shallot Butter, and a Chianti Wine Reduction. It looked and smelled fantastic, as I cut into the steak however I noticed that it was not well done like I had ordered. I took a bite anyhow, the shallot butter melted into the nooks and crannies of the steak mingling with the char seasoning, the whole thing blended beautifully. I give the kitchen brigade this - that steak would have been tough as leather if it had been cooked the way I ordered it. It may not have been well done, but it had been done very well. The four-cheese macaroni (actually penne) was rich and bursting with flavor as well, the whole plate combined to make a truly exceptional entree.

Charred Strip Steak With Four Cheese MacCharred Strip Steak With Four Cheese Mac
This Is Not Well Done, But It Was Done WellThis Is Not Well Done, But It Was Done Well

Kirk ordered the Oven-baked Chicken alla Parmigiana, which features Breaded Chicken Breast with Marinara Sauce topped with Melted Mozzarella served over a plate of Spaghetti. The chicken was cooked to juicy perfection inside, with a crisp crust that he said melted in his mouth. The marinara sauce is sweet and mild, letting the tomato shine through when paired with the al dente spaghetti. He said it was much better than the chicken parm he'd previously eaten over at Tony's Town Square in the Magic Kingdom.

Our entrees brought redemption for the experience we were having at Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano. Our stomachs were happy and we had saved just enough room for dessert.

Oven-baked Chicken alla ParmigianaOven-baked Chicken alla Parmigiana

For dessert Kirk ordered the Traditional Cannoli, which came out as three adorable two bite minis. The mouse-made Cannoli Filling was rich and creamy with just a hint of citrus and chocolate. The shells were crisp and had just the right snap when you bit into them. If you're there and you don't think you can handle dessert, order up a plate of these to share, they are the perfect hint of sweetness to finish off your meal.

If you want to be more indulgent - then you need to order the Ghirardelli Chocolate and Cherry Tort. The moment this touched my lips I thought I had died and gone to chocolate heaven. Creamy deep chocolate is infused with Morello Cherries, and served with a tart Cherry Coulis then topped with whipped cream. It may honestly be one of the best chocolate desserts I have ever had. Any bite alone was overpowering, but when you had bits of the chocolate, cherries, and cream all on one fork they combined for the most blissful experience.

Traditional Cannoli Minis Had The Perfect SnapTraditional Cannoli Minis Had The Perfect Snap
Ghirardelli Chocolate and Cherry TortGhirardelli Chocolate and Cherry Tort

When Dori had brought us the dessert menu, we had also ordered a Limoncello digestif. Though Kirk had said he was "all boozed out" for the trip, I wasn't going to miss the chance at doing limoncello shots with my son. The 2 ounce pours came to the table, and 1... 2... 3... Salute! All that was left was a smooth and sweet lemony burn.

In case I hadn't mentioned it, our server Dori's service was impeccable. She really went out of her way to make sure that we were enjoying our meal. Even though by the end of our time at Mama's we were delighted, she felt bad that we had a rocky start. Being on the Disney Dining plan she said she was unable to comp our food, and that she always finds it difficult to do something to make the experience better for folks on the Disney Dining Plan, she did however bring us a couple of souvenirs to take away. Little did she know how much a little light up Buzz Lightyear cup clip would make my 22 year old son's day.

2oz Limoncello Shots2oz Limoncello Shots
Our Server Dori Went Above And Beyond For UsOur Server Dori Went Above And Beyond For Us
Kirk With His Prized Glow In The Dark Buzz LightyearKirk With His Prized Glow In The Dark Buzz Lightyear

Overall Kirk and I really enjoyed our lunch at Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano. Our bill came to a total of $123, which for us came to $28 in alcohol, and 1 table service credit per person on the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan. While we've never had trouble getting a reservation here, it's always best to have an ADR when a restaurant is on your list. The entrees and desserts were wonderful, and we would happily go back again, we'd just skip the starters and pay out of pocket.

Have you been to Mama Melrose's? What did you think? Leave a comment and let us know!

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly. If you have a Gravatar account associated with the e-mail address you provide, it will be used to display your avatar.

More information about formatting options