Mama Melrose Ristorante Italiano (“Mama Melrose”) sits at the bottom of a brick building just past Pizza Planet, on the way to the Streets of America at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It blends in with the facades in that area to the point that I’ve encountered several people over the years that didn’t realize an actual restaurant is in there. Just be on the look-out for the bright red and yellow doors for entry into the building.
When you first walk in, you’ll notice two things. One is that the lobby for Mama Melrose is fairly small and gets crowded easily with patrons waiting to be seated. The other is the wonderful smells emanating from the kitchen. If you weren’t hungry when you first entered, you probably are now.
Our group of four (two adults, two children) checked in at the podium, and even though the lobby was standing room only, we only had a short wait before our name was called. We were taken into the dining area, which features a cliché of Italian restaurant theming including dark wood, checkered curtains, twinkling lights and faux grapevines overhead. However, the décor also trends a bit to the eclectic with various knick knacks scattered about and the names of previous patrons scrawled in crayon on bricks of the interior. All put together it’s somewhat of an odd combination, but it seems to work.
Once seated, it was just a few moments before our server appeared to tell us of the specials and to take our drink orders. We both opted to start with one of the Mama Melrose specialty cocktails, the “Italian Surfer”, which is a blend of coconut rum, Amaretto cranberry and pineapple juices. The drinks arrived shortly thereafter, and while they were pleasing to the eye and tasted good, neither of us could tell there was any alcohol in it. Our server also brought us a basket of rolls with an olive oil and herb combination for dipping, as well as plain butter for the children at our table. Not a lot to say about the rolls, just your basic bread service.
For lunch I decided to try the “Chicken Campanelle,” which consisted of wood-grilled chicken and campanelle pasta tossed in a four-cheese sauce with broccoflower, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh spinach, and sweet onions. (Note: I requested the dish be made without the broccoflower. It’s also worth noting that you can get this dish made with shrimp instead of chicken if you like.) My friend decided on the “Grilled Chicken Flatbread” with ricotta cheese, spinach oil, and sweet onion relish, and the children at our table ordered spaghetti and a cheese pizza of the kid’s menu.
We received our food quickly, and it was nice and hot which made me happy as I can’t stand a luke warm pasta dish. I found the pasta to be tender, and the chicken cut easily with the edge of the fork. The four-cheese sauce was creamy with a bit of a bite, but not an overwhelming one. I was curious what four cheeses were included as it had not said on the menu, so I asked our waiter, who provided me with a copy of the recipe for it. (For those that are curious, the cheeses are Parmesan, Reggiano, Asiago, and Fontina.) I thought the dish was very good and quite filling, as I was only able to eat about half the contents of the bowl it was served in. I would definitely order it again.
The flatbread my friend ordered was of ample size for one person. She said the combination of flavors went well together, with no one ingredient standing out over the other. Also, sometimes with an oil based pizza/flatbread it can turn out too greasy, but that wasn’t the case here.
The children at our table both ate their meals without complaint. While I did not try their food, on appearance alone their meals looked to be of better quality than their food court counterparts. The portions were ample as well, particularly with the spaghetti.
We viewed the dessert menu and while the tiramisu and cannoli cake were tempting, we agreed we were just too full to eat another bite. We notified our server we were ready to go and he was quick to get us our check and return after taking our payment.
I really enjoyed our visit to Mama Melrose. The food was good and we received prompt and attentive service from from start to finish. I look forward to going back and will make sure to save room for dessert next time.
Mama Melrose accepts Disney’s Tables in Wonderland discount dining program.
Mama Melrose Ristorante Italiano – map & links
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