There are lots of choices in Hollywood Studios to grab a bite to eat. Some revolve around great Disney storytelling (dining in a car at a retro drive-in, or sitting in a 1950s diner to enjoy a meal like mom used to make), and others have a Hollywood feel, right down to the name, look and feel of the restaurant. Most locations focus more on buffet or quick options like a great burger and fries. Tucked right in the back of the park is a gem of a table service restaurant that has become a hit with guests at this park, for good reason: Mama Melrose’s. Make sure you book your reservation as far in advance as possible!
5. Fantasmic Dinner Package
The dinner package, available at three restaurants in Hollywood Studios including Mama Melrose’s, is the best way to do Fantasmic. Arguably the best show on Disney property, Fantasmic has an absolutely enormous theatre and seating area. If you get there too early or too late without the dinner package, you will be sitting in areas that are off to the side. Viewing won’t be hugely affected, but fair warning – when the show is over, everyone will be trying to leave at the same time, and it will take some time to exit. With the dinner package, you’ll be able to reserve a VIP spot in the centre of the theatre, which is not only prime viewing location, but also right near the entrance (and more importantly the exit) for when the show is finished.
4. Charred Strip Steak
This one is going to sound a little strange. Mama Melrose’s is, after all, an Italian restaurant, probably best known for its pasta dishes. But this dish cannot be beat. The side dish that comes with the meal is a five cheese macaroni and pancetta. I have had pasta dishes all throughout Walt Disney World, and even across the globe. My grandmother also had a recipe for some of the best mac and cheese I have ever had. This dish definitely gives my grandma’s mac and cheese a run for its money. Even the steak is delicious – ok, it may be a strip steak, but it sure doesn’t taste like any strip steak I’ve been served before. A word of advice: when you order this dish, people in your party WILL want to sneak a bite…don’t let them. Make them order it themselves next time.
3. Catering to your every whim
Every restaurant in Walt Disney World caters to guests with dietary restrictions, and this is probably one of the safest places in the world for people with food allergies to grab a meal. Side note: if you are ever at a quick service restaurant, don’t be afraid to mention your dietary restrictions to a cast member – they will all have options for you. Back to Mama Melrose’s, though. If you are eating at one of the fine dining establishments on property, you can expect impeccable service including a table-side visit from your chef for those with dietary restrictions; the chef may even design a menu or dish specifically for you. At other Disney restaurants you may get a visit from the chef if you have allergies, but they won’t create a dish for you – except here at Mama Melrose’s. Not only has a chef visited each and every time we’ve been there, but they will actually ask exactly what you were hoping to eat for dinner, and will design a meal that you’ll love, making sure every piece of your meal is prepared and cooked in a special section of the kitchen to avoid cross-contamination. Both times I have visited this restaurant with people with dietary restrictions, the chef has gone completely off menu to design something that would work within their restrictions, and it has been one of the best meals for them each time.
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Mama Melrose’s is nestled into one of the few quiet corners of Hollywood Studios, which looks especially beautiful at Christmas time (it helps that the Christmas shop next door is open year round, and that Santa is forever climbing a building nearby). It’s also near the Muppet Shop which holds a close place in my heart. It’s also nice to be able to come out of a restaurant after a meal late at night, and feel like you have the park all to yourself. We have actually come out of our reservation when the park was closed, and we got to walk all the way through the park with no one around. It makes for some absolutely stunning photo opportunities.
Everything here just tastes fresh and delicious. The quality of every menu item, from appetizers of freshest seafood to salads of crisp, delicious vegetables, is simply superb. The flatbreads aren’t just another pizza. The dough is not too doughy and has just the right crispiness to hold all of your toppings without getting that cardboard feeling. The tomato sauce is delightfully savory, and the flatbreads have a taste to rival the concoctions emerging from the wood ovens of Via Napoli in Epcot. It’s the reach of Mama Melrose’s menu that really shows their attention to quality, though. Not feeling like pasta, but your family is? Well, you have chicken, steak and fish to choose from as well, each of which is deserving of being the star of its own specialty restaurant. Everything leads back to the chefs; you can tell how much effort and heart goes into each one of their dishes, something clearly appreciated by the increasing number of guests who flock to Mama Melrose’s.