Polpette Al Forno, $12; Manicotti, $24; Spaghetti Carbonara, $22
Walt Disney World has some of the most awe-inspiring resorts you will ever see. A lot of people, ourselves included, resort-hop when they visit Walt Disney World, so they can experience all that these resorts have to offer. Many resorts are accessible by monorail, and others by water taxi from various parks. Whether you travel by monorail, boat or bus, you’re sure to have seen the enormous resort hotels topped by what look like swans and fish. The Swan and Dolphin Resorts are among the oldest located on the property.
Now most of the deluxe-level resorts will blow you away when you enter. Try walking into the Animal Kingdom Lodge without your jaw hitting the floor, or entering the Grand Floridian Resort and not be taken in by the smell, the live music or the sheer magnitude of the lobby itself. The Dolphin Resort is definitely large in stature, but it doesn’t really have the jaw-dropping appeal of the afore-mentioned resorts. The exterior views, out by the boat docks, are lovely late at night when the lights in the palm trees dance to the music, but the resort does feel a bit dated. It’s the restaurants, though, that definitely draw people. Some of the most famous restaurants on property reside here. Shula’s Steak House and Todd English’s Bluezoo are very well known by Disney enthusiasts. But it was another restaurant that drew us in during this trip. We have always enjoyed the Italian cuisine throughout Disney property (we are especially huge fans of Mama Melrose’s) so this time around we decided to make a stop at Il Mulino.
The elegant styling of the restaurant is evident from the moment you walk into the lounge area. Huge ceilings and a vast bar with comfortable lounge-type seating give you a wonderful place to rest while your table is readied. This restaurant is definitely a fine dining establishment. It’s spacious (and was quite empty on the evening we were there), though it may seem a tad stuffy depending on your expectations. We felt a little uncomfortable; the servers were so focused on appearance that when a member of our party got up to go to the bathroom, they came to push her seat back to the perfect location, and even refolded her napkin in her absence. Though we eat at fine dining establishments often, this was something we had never experienced before. That being said, the serving staff were the most attentive we have ever had, and that’s a huge compliment with Disney’s already high standards.
We started with the Polpette Al Forno, and were thrilled to enjoy the most tender meatballs we’d ever had. Calling them a tasty starter really doesn’t do them justice. They definitely set a precedent that the rest of the meal had to live up to. My partner ordered the Manicotti, which she enjoyed immensely. I ordered the Spaghetti Carbonara, and was less than impressed. I wish they had put on the menu that the dish was served al dente. For those who are like me and aren’t used to this, the best way to describe it is very undercooked pasta. I found the dish very chewy and difficult to get through. After a very short while it became clear that it was not something that I was enjoying, which is where the impeccable service came in. The serving team came and asked about the meal. At that point, I described what I thought of the dish and even said it was my own fault for not clarifying any questions I had in advance, but staff insisted on removing the item from the bill and offered to find an alternate dish for me. I wasn’t feeling up to another meal and passed, but my partner did sincerely enjoy her dish and the appetizer was delicious.
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F-Food: The starter was to die for, and my partner’s dish, the Manicotti, was very enjoyable. Pricing was a tad high for what you get, though, and I would warn that if you are not an Italian food connoisseur, you should ask questions to make sure you are getting what you want.
A-Atmosphere: This is a very open and comfortable restaurant, seating-wise, but maybe a bit stuffy and too focused on perfection looks-wise. Might make a family feel a bit uncomfortable.
S-Service: The service really was beyond compare. Attentiveness was beyond anything we had seen anywhere on property or anywhere else for that matter. They have a team serve you during your meal, so someone is always paying attention and will be there whenever you need anything.
T-Tips: This is a restaurant you probably don’t need to make a reservation for that far in advance. It is a bit on the expensive side, and if you are a fan of Italian fare, there are other restaurants on property that are cheaper and may be more family-friendly from a comfortability standpoint. If you do eat at Il Mulino, just make sure to ask a lot of questions about the dishes you are ordering or maybe even ask the server’s advice.