You ever just crave Italian food? I know I do. When you’re in the Park having a great, busy day, sometimes you just want to slump down in an air-conditioned booth and be served a great meal. Am I right? Mama Melrose’s Restaurant Italiano is just the place. A family-friendly restaurant with amazing flavors, this place has it all. Here are 8 things you’ll love about it:
1. Hollywood Studios
Hollywood Studios is my favorite of the Parks. I know, I know, I’m in the minority. But it’s true and no one can make me change my mind. However I’ll be the first to admit that HS does seriously lack good sit down dining options. I mean, it has Brown Derby, 50’s Prime Time, etc. But most of the time, we head out to eat. Here’s where Mama Melrose’s comes in. Mama Melrose’s is a great Italian restaurant that often gets overlooked! It’s a shining spot in good old Hollywood Studios.
That being said, you’ll love Mama Melrose’s location within Hollywood Studios itself. It’s completely tucked away, quietly settled into the set. I think this is why it so often gets passed. Mama Melrose’s sits in the backlot, right across from the exit to Muppets. It’s along that same stretch as the Muppets gift shop and the Christmas store (did you know there was a Christmas store in HS?). I really love this because it feels hidden and special. It’s definitely a hidden gem.
You will absolutely love how this restaurant looks. It is so unique from all the other restaurants on Disney property. The walls and ceiling are completely covered in lights, grape vines, and knick-knacks galore. The dining room seats guests in wooden chairs and tables and overstuffed booths. Brick walls stretch from floor to wooden beamed ceiling in traditional Italian fashion. The decorations range from old Hollywood signs to records of Mama Melrose’s favorite singers from back in the day.
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4. The Story
I didn’t know this when I first visited Mama Melrose’s, but there’s actually a really cool story to go along with the restaurant. According to the story, Mama Melrose started as a young girl from Sicily who moved to Hollywood to become an actress. As it turned out, she was actually more of a star in the kitchen. So she started making meals for her starving actor friends, who eventually encouraged her to start her own restaurant. She got so popular that the Hollywood royalty of the time dubbed her Mama Melrose!
5. Fantasmic! Dining Package
Disney has shifted to promoting these dining packages in recent, and they’re pretty great. With the Fantasmic! Dining Package, you get a full (although fixed) meal at Mama Melrose and guaranteed reserved seating at Fantasmic! that night. You can add on a dessert package for the show that’s VIP and even more special, but you don’t have to. I love this dinner and a show option. It makes for such a fun – and delicious! – night out.
As the story says, one of the reasons Mama Melrose got so popular in Hollywood was because of the way she melded the flavors of Italy with those of California. She took her heritage, her culture, her papa’s recipes and turned them into something perfect for the Californians she was serving. And the menu at Mama Melrose’s really reflects this. It includes standard Italian dishes that are accessible for guests of any background. Tip: get the calamari.
7. Open Kitchen
I always love when restaurants feature an open kitchen. What this means is that the full kitchen is right in the dining space, available to watch, ask questions, and sometimes even sample. Mama Melrose’s kitchen is super cool because of its huge brick oven and large counter. It gives off such a rustic vibe. You’ll also love the bar area with its seating and view. From these stools right up at the kitchen, you can watch all the action!
8. Casual Dining
Mama Melrose’s is also amazing for its casual dining. When at Disney, especially in a Park, it’s really important to have restaurant options suitable for the whole family in the midst of a busy day. This restaurant is perfect for that. It’s conveniently placed in the middle of the park, has a delicious yet tame menu, has a fun/family-friendly vibe, and is reasonably priced. It’s the perfect combination.