DVC Dining: Napa Rose

On our most recent trip to Disneyland this past December, Paul and I stumbled into Napa Rose. The word stumble seems a strange term for one of Disneyland’s more signature dining experiences. The truth was, we had no original plans of dining there. It was a cold night, and we had originally planned to grab some quick service. We quickly realized how little indoor seating Disneyland has at its quick-service locations and decided to seek out any indoor dining reservation we could find. The pickings were slim, and although we didn’t feel we were dressed appropriately for Napa Rose, our desire to be warm won over and we grabbed the reservation with little time to walk over.

It’s hard not to compare Napa Rose to one of our favorite Disney restaurants, California Grill at Walt Disney World. Both restaurants are themed to celebrate California’s rich wine culture with a menu heavily inspired by the sunshine state. Aside from that, we found Napa Rose and California Grill to have very little in common.

The Service

We were surprised to quickly get a reservation here when every other table service restaurant was completely booked. We also noticed they were not even close to being busy. Throughout our entire meal, there was no one seated around us. Our server was friendly, but not overly interested in us. The service didn’t come close to matching what we are used to receiving from California Grill. Also, unrelated to the service, Napa Rose does not take DVC discounts, which is surprising at Disneyland, where DVC discounts are more prevalent at most dining locations.

The Food

Like most signature restaurants, the food at Napa Rose changes seasonally. Our options were geared towards fall and winter flavors. Here are the dishes we chose and what we thought about each one.

Bread Service (included): This was honestly my favorite part of the meal. The basket presented to us had a variety of breads- a sourdough, a sun-dried tomato bread, and a cheddar cheese pull-apart. They were warm and comforting and a great beginning to a meal. The crackers in the basket were okay, but could have benefitted from something to dip them it.

Signature Pizzetta ($19.00): This was their version of a flatbread or small pizza. It contained prosciutto, black figs, caramelized onions, and cambozola cheese. The flavors here were unique, and prosciutto is excellent on pizza. The cheese was one of the pungent overpowering types, but the other flavors seemed to balance it out some. The only real complaint we would have about this dish was that it was very salty. I can’t say it was the best appetizer I’ve ever had, but it was tasty.

Harvest Market Paella ($38): with added shrimp ($15): This dish had mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli, other vegetables, rice, and chickpea fritters in a saffron tomato broth. I chose it because I was looking for something to warm me up. I asked to add shrimp since it was a vegetarian dish, and I wanted a little more substance. While the shrimp were good, they were an unnecessary added expense, and a few shrimp were costly. The dish was hearty enough on its own. The only part of this dish I didn’t enjoy was the chickpea fritters, which tasted like something deep-fried at a county fair. They were not as good as other fried chickpea items I have experienced from Disney in the past (like hummus fries, falafels, etc.). Overall, this was like having a comforting bowl of soup on a cold day, and the broth was uniquely flavorful.

Orange Honey and Almond Roasted Duck Breast ($45): Paul ordered this dish, which included duck confit and cranberry essence. He felt is was very seasonally appropriate. Having many duck dishes in the past, his thoughts on this were that the flavors were delicious, but the duck itself was tough, and there was not enough of the glaze to make up for it. Overall, it may not have been worth the cost.

Hearth-roasted organic broccoli ($10): This broccoli was served charred with olive oil, garlic, and lemon. It was a good accompaniment, but we agreed we wouldn’t order it again due to it not being worth $10.

Sticky Toffee Pudding and Date Shake ($15): This was the part of the meal we had wish we went out and grabbed dessert in the parks. The dessert was small, the toffee pudding was dry, and the date shake was nothing special as it tasted like plain vanilla. It’s hard to think about the amazing desserts we have had at California Grill or The Boathouse in Florida and not feel like this one falls short of Disney signature dining.

The Ambiance

The California wine country theme is evident throughout and fits in well with the motif of the Grand Californian Resort. While it can’t compete with the spectacular views offered at California Grill in Disney World, the atmosphere at Napa Rose is warm, inviting, and elegant. We were initially worried about not being dressed well enough, but our casual clothing blended in with most of our fellow diners.

I can’t say that I am eager to return to Napa Rose any time soon. When I compare this signature experience to the many others we have had around Disney properties; it ranks pretty low. I would be much more apt to travel over to the casual Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen for another meal.

With that said, I know many who have sung praises for Napa Rose, so don’t let our one experience deter you from trying it for yourself. Let me know in the comments what you think about this signature restaurant at Disney’s Grand Californian Resort!

5 thoughts on “DVC Dining: Napa Rose

  • April 30, 2020 at 10:37 am
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    Oh no! I’m sorry to hear you had a bad experience. But I really disagree with this review. Napa Rose is one of the best signature dining experiences we’ve had. I rate it second only to Remy aboard DCL. And we’ve eaten at Victoria and Alberts. In fact I’d say Napa Rose is on par with other higher end restaurants we’ve dined at off property. And we’ve eaten at many truly fine dining experiences as well – including Eleven Madison Park in NY, the French Laundry in Napa, and Diner by Heston Blumenthal in London. I wouldn’t say Napa Rose is on par with those restaurants specifically. I offer them as examples of our range of experience. But we’ve eaten at many other fine dining restaurants that would sit at the same tier as Napa Rose. We’ve also eaten at Ralph Brennan’s. As a frequent guest to DLR (we are AP holders and Grand Cal owners), I would never suggest folks might be better served by a meal at RB’s (since they can’t actually eat at California Grill at DLR – the other restaurant in your comparison) over Napa Rose. I also would encourage comparing Napa Rose to the alternative on-property offerings at DLR – Steakhouse 55, or Cathay Circle (we’ve eaten at both). I would also never base my own public review off a single bad experience. I’d go back. Especially if my review was out of step with the experience of others. That’s why professional reviewers don’t base their reviews off a single experience. We dined at the Chef’s Table at Napa Rose and loved it (we have a video review on our YouTube channel and also discussed in a Dining episode on our Podcast). We also dined at RB’s on a recent trip (and have been there several times) and while the food is adequate and the atmosphere is fun, having been to New Orleans dozens of times I wouldn’t hold it out as great, especially for the price. I’d much rather eat at Napa Rose for its regional cuisine, than experience the attempt at authentic New Orleans cuisine at RBs. I do agree California Grill is on par with Napa Rose. In all, I think your readers should go what the weight of positive experiences at Napa Rose from a multitude of other diners, than a single less than stellar experience. But I’m truly sorry you had a bad experience. As Napa Rose really shines in Disney’s signature line-up, in my opinion.

  • April 30, 2020 at 11:05 am
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    I own at the Grand Californian but I was not impressed with the Napa Rose. I’m not sure if it was our server or the time of day, but my families experience was less than stellar. We arrived early to the reservation and wanted to get a drink at the bar. That was an endeavor unto itself, because we were sat at a table in the bar for drinks, we were not allowed to order directly from the bar where 3 bar tenders sat idle. Our cocktail waitress was in the weeds and took 30 minutes to get our order. The drinks came just as our table was ready for dinner. They actually told us we could not take them to our table and our waitress would bring them to us. I declined repeatedly until they relented.

    As we sat at dinner, we were not given the allergy menu for my wife’s gluten issues. We had it on our reservation and told our hostess. Still a miss. I assume she our waitress thought we were indigent because she tried to point us to the cheapest stuff on the menu. FYI, we were dressed casual but not wearing jeans or t-shirts. I had a button down and slacks, wearing a $12K watch too. My wife and daughter were in nice dresses also. Our waitress commented that she thought we were on a budget.
    I ordered a steak and was not very impressed with it at all. Maybe it is because I am from Texas and have had my share of great steaks but this was a typical California steak, over cooked and tasteless. I have never been impressed with the quality of meat when going to California. For the cost, I would have expected more. We did have two decent wines with our dinner but not spectacular. I was expecting more knowledge or at least a bit of attention from the sommelier. I had to research the wines on my phone before I chose the pairing.

    Our waitress seemed to be paying more attention to the two couples in flip flops and canibus apparel at the table next to us with bad table manners that were being drunk and loud. For a table of 3, a check of $345, I found the experience underwhelming.

  • April 30, 2020 at 10:13 pm
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    Hi Amy, I think I am more disappointed hearing your didn’t like Napa Rose than you were in your experience! I was hoping for a glowing experience as it was on my list of “must dos” on the next trip to Disneyland. Sorry to hear that it was such an underwhelming experience!

    • May 1, 2020 at 11:35 pm
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      I’ve dined multiple times at the Napa and have to say it’s always impressed me.

  • May 3, 2020 at 6:43 pm
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    I’m really sorry to hear that you and others had a negative experience at Napa Rose, but I really wouldn’t let one experience there go against the overwhelming and consistently positive feedback from others. My wife and I are DVC owners at Grand Cal and visit DLR frequently. We recently dined at the Chef’s Table at Napa Rose, and it was one of the best meals we’ve ever had. My wife still raves about it. We watched first hand as the chef and his staff prepared customer orders and saw an attention to quality and detail that we’ve only ever experienced at other high-end dining. We actually posted our own video review of the restaurant we enjoyed it so much. My wife and I are very experienced with dining having eaten at Michelin starred restaurants like the French Laundry in Napa, Eleven Madison Park in New York, and Diner by Heston Blumenthal in London. We’ve also eaten at many signature dining restaurants at Disneyland and Disneyworld including Carthay Circle, Steakhouse 55, and many of the WDW offerings. We’ve eaten at California Grill, mentioned in the review – and it is amazing. We’ve also eaten at Victoria and Alberts. I’d rank Napa Rose easily on par with California Grill, and second only to our experiences at Palo or Remy aboard the Disney Cruise Line. We found the staff to be attentive, the service to be lovely and the food to be wonderful. The chef even took time to chat with us and answer questions, and changed my wife’s entree at they were making it based on her feedback about earlier dishes. The wine sommelier came through with some really great pairings. I found the price of the meal to be on par with other high-end dining experiences, even at the Chef’s table, and the value to be consistent with high-end dining, rather than inflated Disney prices for more run-of-the-mill food. I do quibble with the suggestion that visitors might be better served visiting Ralph Brennan’s. While the food there is OK, and the atmosphere is fun – having been to New Orleans over a dozen times, I’d much rather eat the California inspired regional cuisine at Napa Rose than experience the attempt at New Orleans cuisine at RB’s. And, while Napa Rose is comparable to California Grill, if you’re visiting DLR, you really don’t have the option to eat there. I’d more likely compare Napa Rose to Carthay Circle – the chef for Napa Rose actually oversees food at that restaurant too, or Steakhouse 55 as the other out-of-part signature dining option. I think Napa Rose shines as against both. I hope you’ll give it another try, and am sorry to hear it disappointed this time. But that’s not the norm, in my experience.

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