This September, Hurricane Dorian left us with extra time at Disney World and no real plans. Paul and I decided to check out available last minute dining reservations. Since we could easily walk a few steps from our BoardWalk villa, we agreed to try Trattoria al Forno. Reservations here were pretty wide open, and the restaurant was empty, but this could be because of the hurricane. I don’t know that our experience speaks to the norm for getting into dinner here late-notice. Nonetheless, we walked on down and found ourselves seated immediately.
I was very pleased with the service here. I know the restaurant wasn’t busy, and that helps, but the difference here was our server’s attitude. It seemed very obvious she enjoyed her job, greeting us in Italian, offering advice and information about the dishes, and was just overall a very happy and upbeat person. She checked in on us often throughout our meal, and we never had to worry about getting refills or anything else we needed promptly.
Disney labels Trattoria al Forno as a casual Italian eatery. The dinner menu has a nice variety of pastas, pizzas, and a few non-pasta entrees, such as a strip steak and a whole roasted fish. Since we were here to enjoy some Italian food, we both ordered a pasta dish and shared a few appetizers. Here are our thoughts on the drinks and dishes we enjoyed:
Peach Bellini – $10.25: This drink was light and refreshing. I enjoyed the muddled peaches in the bottom, and it was not too strong on the alcohol, which for me, is good.
Italian Manhattan – $11.25: Paul ordered this drink and said it could have used more liquor as he found it to be surprisingly too sweet.
Garlic Knots – $7.00: The garlic knots are an off-menu item you can ask for. They came highly recommended to us from a friend. Served piping hot in a cast-iron skillet and covered with cheese, they’re accompanied by Sunday gravy, which is essentially their version of a marinara sauce. This was more flavorful than most marinaras I have had. We both enjoy garlic but found the knots to be a little overpowering. They were also very greasy. I can see why people enjoy them and their presentation, but I would spring for a different appetizer next time.
Insalata di Stagione – $12.00: This was labeled on the menu as a seasonal salad with ricotta and vinaigrette. The salad itself came out with some greens, fruit, and shaved parmesan. The menu didn’t specify as to the flavor of the vinaigrette, but I’m convinced it didn’t matter because the salad had very little flavor aside from arugula (which I do like). The dressing was nonexistent. I don’t know if I was spoiled by a very flavorful salad at Olivia’s Cafe earlier that week, or if I just should have asked for some extra dressing on the side. What I can say is that the vegetables were fresh, but it definitely looked tastier than it was.
Minestrone – $9.00: This was Paul’s appetizer, and he loved it. We agreed the broth was well-seasoned and flavorful, and there was no shortage of vegetables. The only disappointment here was that the bowl was quite small. Paul said he would order this dish again.
Parmigiana di Pollo – $26.00: Paul ordered the chicken parmesan as his entree. The chicken was well-cooked and of perfect crispness- not soggy as some tend to get. The side of spaghetti was served al dente. If there was any drawback here, it was the lack of sauce. They served more sauce with the garlic knots than with a dish that felt like it deserved more. If you like sauce with your chicken parmesan, I would suggest asking for extra on the side.
Pasta alle Vongole – $26.00: This pasta dish usually combines tomatoes, white-wine butter sauce, and littleneck clams. Since I’m not a huge clam person, I asked to substitute shrimp, which they did without hesitation. I absolutely loved this dish. If there were a reason I would come back to Trattoria for dinner, it would be to eat this pasta again. It was light, the shrimp were large, and everything was cooked perfectly. At my request, our server added a very generous portion of freshly grated cheese, and the flavors went together wonderfully. I would, without a doubt, order this again. It would even be good without any protein as a vegetarian dish.
The open-kitchen concept is always a cool restaurant design since it’s fun to see what the chefs are making. The decor here is very old-world Italian with warm colors, dark woods, and lots of wine. The only turn off we had with the space is that we were swatting gnats the whole evening. I don’t know if we came on an off day, but this was the first time we had experienced that many gnats inside of an indoor Disney restaurant. Unfortunately, by the end of dinner, we opted to skip dessert to get outside, where we ended up at Ample Hills Creamery for some gnat free ice cream.
Paul and I agreed that Trattoria al Forno was decent, and although it will probably be a while before we return to dinner, we are interested in trying the Bon Voyage Breakfast in the near future. I especially want to try the breakfast calzone or King Triton’s Shipwreck al Forno as it’s called.
Share your experience at Trattoria al Forno with us in the comments below and let us know if you would recommend this BoardWalk Italian eatery!