By: Amy Krieger and Paul Krieger
When it came to our most recent trip to Walt Disney World, it was never a question of whether we would eat at Topolino’s Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera at Disney’s Riviera Resort. The hardest decision was whether it would be breakfast or dinner!
In the end, menu changes as a result of the pandemic and our resort hopping schedule led us to reserve dinner for one of our most anticipated dining experiences. After hearing so many amazing things about Topolino’s, we were excited to give it a try!
When the elevator doors opened to the tenth floor of the Riviera Resort, the first words out of Amy’s mouth were, “It looks like Disney got a two for one deal on noodle lights.” The glass lighting fixtures throughout the restaurant look very much like those hanging above the bar at Grand Floridian’s Enchanted Rose. However, the noodle lights are much more fitting at Topolino’s and play off the restaurant’s Italian cuisine.
Since we arrived early, the host invited us to relax at the bar. This time allowed us to explore the restaurant and its decor fully. Due to its rooftop location, it was hard throughout the evening not to compare Topolinos to California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. While the views from the restaurant and terrace were great, we felt Topolinos could have benefitted from higher ceilings and larger windows to showcase its signature location.
Dan at the bar promptly welcomed us and chatted about some of the signature drinks the restaurant was known for serving. This same level of kindness and professionalism was exhibited throughout the entire service staff at Topolinos. Our server, Dustin, was very knowledgeable about the dishes being served and the ingredients utilized throughout the menu. Overall, the level of service we experienced that evening was among the best we’ve encountered at Walt Disney World.
As we took in the views from the bar, we each decided to enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail. Amy chose the Pomegranate Paradiso, which included Figenza Vodka, Pomegranate, Lemon, and Pineapple. She felt the drink was perfect for her since it did not have an overly “boozy” taste. The pineapples dominated the palate with subtle hints of pomegranate. I opted for the Spirited Seasonal Cocktail, which included Elijah Craig 12yr Small Batch Bourbon, Courvoisier VS Cognac, Cointreau Noir, Spiced Orange Reduction, and Bitters. The alcohol prevails in this drink with the orange cutting through subtly to complement these flavors. Fans of an old fashioned will definitely want to give this one a try.
Once seated at the table, our server Dustin, brought French Pain d’Epi Bread served with Reserve Jean Reno Black Fruity Olive Oil. The bread is a twist on your classic French baguette and was served warm with a nice crunch and fluffy pillow-like interior. The olive oil provided a wonderful flavor, with the olives used in its making speaking very prominently. As Amy exclaimed, “The olive oil tastes like olives!”
Since we got our fair share of olive taste with the bread service, we decided on the ricotta for an appetizer. The ricotta is served with tomato, aged balsamic, cracked pepper, basil, olive oil, and additional bread. The flavors together made this an appetizer that is much more than it appears and one we can’t wait to have again. The sweet crushed tomatoes paired with the creamy ricotta was heavenly. These same tomatoes are featured on the Bucatini that we can’t wait to try when it returns to the menu.
For my salad, I ordered the Beets Barigoule, which is featured as a plant-based menu offering. The dish includes white beans, watercress, garden radish, and lemon meringue. You need to like beets if you are going to order this dish (which I do), and should consider that as basically your lettuce. The best plan of attack is to cut the beets up and try them separately, with each accompanying flavor, and then together with everything. The lemon meringue was surprising sweet addition that, while shocking at first, grew on me throughout the dish.
The other salad choice on the menu was the Romaine Insalata, which Amy enjoyed. This dish included ricotta, watercress, acciuga (anchovy), lemon, and olive oil. Many similar flavor profiles and ingredients featured in the ricotta were in this dish, including those mouth-watering tomatoes. While Amy usually dislikes lemon in her food, she felt that it was used well to compliment the plate and was not overpowering.
It’s worth noting we felt that while we had a lot of food already in the meal, the dishes at Topolino’s were not incredibly large, leaving plenty of room still for our main courses. That, or we were just really really hungry…
The Braised Lamb Shank was my choice for dinner served on a bed of polenta, including charred carrots, dehydrated pickled pear, and jus. The lamb was some of the best I have ever had, being incredibly tender and falling off the bone with ease. The star of the dish was the jus reduction that was both sweet and meaty, giving the polenta a fantastic taste. I think they should add a menu item called polenta and jus and serve a giant bowl of this. Amy is typically not a fan of lamb, and although good still felt it tasted a bit gamey.
Amy chose the Rigatoni for her meal, which consisted of braised chicken sugo, dandelion greens, and parmesano-reggiano. Using housemade pasta elevates this dish to another level making it extremely comforting. The noodle’s doughy texture was perfect for absorbing the creamy sauce. The sauce was reminiscent of a stroganoff only using chicken instead of beef. When combined with the parmesano-reggiano, it was very flavorful. Amy said she would gladly eat this dish again, but is excited about trying the other kinds of pasta on the menu.
The desserts we chose were the Warm Valrhona Chocolate Cake and the Pistachio Mousse. They were both great options. The cake had an oozy chocolate and caramel center. It was rich, sweet, and the berries complimented it perfectly. The mousse sat atop a chocolate cake layer with a nutty flavor reminiscent of pistachio ice cream. We would both gladly order these desserts again. I also chose to end the evening with coffee and a side of Bailey’s. A word to the wise; $12 is an insane price for a shot of Bailey’s to enjoy in your coffee. Just use cream.
We were completely content with our dinner at Topolino’s Terrace. Currently, in our eyes, it ranks among the best places to dine on property. Everything from the service, food, and atmosphere was a home run, and we seriously can’t wait to eat there again soon.
We would love to hear your experience at Topolino’s. Share your thoughts in the comments and let us know if you enjoyed it as much as we did!
*Please note that this dining review was conducted during Walt Disney World’s initial reopening period. We ask that you take into consideration that any negative impacts may be a result of situations surrounding the ongoing pandemic, and may not accurately represent the restaurant once the resort has fully reopened.