= Cara's Favorite
Princess Storybook Dining; Scandinavian cuisine at the Norway Pavillion. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
German cuisine in the Germany Pavillion. Lunch and dinner.
French cuisine at the France Pavillion. Dinner only.
Upstairs from Chefs de France is Monsieur Paul, a tribute to Chef Paul Bocuse who achieved three Michelin stars at his famous Lyon restaurant for 48 straight years. With a menu created by Chef Francesco Santin who worked with Chef Paul, the restaurant has been updated and modernized since its last incarnation as Bistro de Paris serving classic French dishes, or at least modern interpretations of them, served. Gone are the old traditional red banquettes and white tablecloths; what's in now is a more casual, updated Art Noveau space with grape purple and asparagus green décor (more tasteful than it sounds), fun bubble lighting, and a lovely, understated look. But never fear, the same classic French service is still in place.
Make your first bite an updated twist on typical escargot encased in ravioli with a sublime cream of parsley sauce. Follow that with a phenomenal layered salad of shaved white asparagus tossed in a remoulade dressing topped with Serrano ham, then a layer of frisee and baby greens, all sprinkled with dill and curls of salted red beets. Very different is the gorgeous truffle soup with its dome of puff pastry that is almost too pretty to eat…I said almost. Oh, and can we talk about the bread here…five types, all so perfect, the best being the mushroom and bacon roll, or perhaps the braided sundried tomato and basil.
Only five main courses are available, several offering their own dramatic presentation: a grilled beef tenderloin with a thick mushroom crust surrounded by rich, dark bordelaise sauce; or an even lovelier red snapper topped with golden brown potato “fish scales”, served with braised, tender fennel and a somewhat overwhelming, yet delicious rosemary sauce. If it’s seafood you're craving a better choice might be the delectable scallops, seared and served in a pool of ginger lobster consommé surrounded by crunchy vegetables and cream of cauliflower puree. And for dessert a sable Breton pastry cream topped with citrus segments and a side of citrus sorbet is the choice—all else pales in comparison.
Cara's Tip: Those dining a deux should request a window table (most are only for two) to receive a nice view of the lagoon.
South-of-the-border cuisine at the Mexico Pavillion in World Showcase. Lunch and dinner.
A romantic ambience where it is perpetual nighttime alongside the inky Rio del Tiempo (River of Time) combined with a much improved menu is a great recipe for one of Epcot®’s better dining choices. The historic ambience of the original San Angel in Mexico City scores bonus points for a more refined feel than some of the other Epcot restaurants. Start with a specialty margarita like blood orange or passion fruit, or one of the more classic varieties, but beware that all are quite sweet; if a tart margarita is more to your liking ask for extra lime to be added. Good starters are tlacoyos de chilorio, corn cakes topped with refried beans, savory pork, queso fresco, a touch of sour cream and tart green tomatillo sauce; or tostadas de tinga, crispy tortillas topped with grilled chicken, black beans, and tasty queso fresca.
Entrees such as pollo a las rajas, grilled chicken breast served over red peppers, an overload of onions, chile poblano, chorizo, and melted cheese fits the bill for those who crave rich flavors, but meat lovers might consider the tacos de carne with tender strip steak, avocados, whole grilled green onions, and chipotle sauce in soft flour tortillas. Seafood seekers will enjoy the Veracruzano fish, a savory combination of fresh fish topped with a capers, olives, bell peppers, onions, and tomato sauce. Or, if it’s a kick you’re seeking, then the piquant shrimp a la diabla with cascabel chili sauce served over a creamy yuca puree is the way to go. An authentic dessert choice is the helado del dulce de leche, a vanilla ice cream mixed with delicious Mexican caramel sauce. If you’re in luck the fabulous Mariachi Cobre will be performing during your meal.
Japanese cuisine in the Japan Pavillion. Lunch and dinner.
Italian cuisine at the Italy Pavillion in World Showcase. Lunch and dinner.
With an obligatory charming maitre d’ and no less than three flirty waiters to serve you, this is one of the better restaurants in World Showcase. The décor is one of glittering chandeliers and walls of murals depicting ancient Rome; definitely a slightly formal, Old World ambience. And from my place at a window table overlooking the piazza and its fountain, with Italian arias playing in the background, I could almost swear I was smack dab in the center of my much-loved Rome.
On the menu is a mound of mozzarella di bufala paired with sweet red peppers then drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with fresh basil and sea salt. Or a Grand Antipasto platter served family style with an assortment of meats, cheeses, and peppers is a definite winner. Pasta is Tutto Italia’s best asset and a stellar tonnarelli, perfectly al dente hand-made egg pasta similar to spaghetti, burrata-studded, tossed with cubed zucchini, and plenty of fresh mint and basil, was one of the best pastas I’ve had in years. And I know that every Italian restaurant west of the Tiber claims their lasagna is fabulous, but here it’s the truth,—superb with a meaty
ragu and a creamy béchamel.
Filet of sole is an another excellent option at dinner, lightly dusted with flour then sautéed and presented in a lemon and caper sauce, swirled with butter, and served with a surprise of tender white asparagus; this same dish can be had at lunchtime only made with chicken breast. But a must-have is the Polenta Valsugana, creamy and delicious, smothered in Fontina cheese and enlivened with meatballs and short ribs in a robust tomato sauce. A side of whatever vegetable is being served is always a good bet, my last taste being that of crisp-tender green beans glistening with fruity olive oil and sprinkled with ripe cherry tomatoes and fresh tarragon.
Dessert might be best spent on the torta di nocciole "cortemilia", a heavy hazelnut polenta cake adorned with dabs of Nutella and whipped Piemonte cream. Simply dreamy!
Italian cuisine in Italy Pavillion. Lunch and dinner.
You must plan a meal here if only to try the best pizza I’ve had in ages. More like a neighborhood trattoria, I almost prefer it to its next-door neighbor, Tutto Italian, although both have their assets. On beautiful days you might want to choose the outdoor patio, but it would be a shame to miss the entertaining hustle and bustle of the main dining room with its open kitchen, frescoed walls, and the massive faces of the three pizza ovens appropriately named Stromboli, Vesuvius, and Etna after Italy’s active volcanoes. There’s even a huge communal dining table perfect for those eating solo.
To start, the Fritto Misto platter gives you a sampling of the fried appetizers on the menu including the calamari, zucchini, mozzarella, asparagus, artichoke hearts, even the arancini, all served with a zingy pomodoro sauce. And speaking of arancini, these fried risotto balls are quite the delicacy with a touch of meat ragu filling on a bed of light tomato-basil sauce. But don’t neglect to think about ordering the gamberretti fagioli, a cold antipasto with plump shrimp and cannellini beans tossed in olive oil, red onions, chopped fresh tomatoes, a plethora of rosemary, and a good squeeze of lemon. In fact, you really could make a fine meal just from the starter list.
Your best pasta choice is probably the candele, a baked dish of pasta tubes, sausage, tiny meatballs, ricotta, mozzarella, and a delicious, fresh ragu. When it comes to pizza it’s a tough decision, but I would go with the Carciofi Bianca, a white pizza (sans the tomato sauce) topped with freshly grilled chopped artichokes and sprinkled with heady truffle oil. Wood-fired, thin yet chewy, and cooked to smoky excellence, it's topped with a tasty blend of fontina and mozzarella cheese and just a touch of garlic. This is the stuff dreams are made of! And no question about it, order the zeppole for dessert, crispy ricotta cheese fritters served with whipped cream and oh-so-good chocolate sauce!