Patina Restaurant Group, the folks who operate the dining venues at Epcot’s Italy pavilion, recently opened a newly renovated Tutto Italia, the big,full-service restaurant in the space that used to be occupied by Alfredo’s. They also debuted a new space, Tutto Gusto, a wine bar with small-plate nibbles.
Patina’s founder, chef Joachim Splichal, and CEO Nick Valenti were on hand to help Mickey and Minnie cut the ribbon amid streamers and confetti. Afterwards, invited guests toured the new wine bar and sipped prosecco and sampled some of the eats.
Tutto Gusto occupies a space that was previously part of the larger restaurant’s lobby, which was also where the restrooms were located. (Don't get nervous -- they found another place to put the restrooms.) The design is very grotto-like, with stone walls and a nook with a fireplace. For a comparison, I found it similar to the tequila bar space that was added a few years ago to the Mexico pavilion.
After the reception, I had a chance to sit down in Tutto Italia with Splichal and Valenti for lunch featuring dishes from both Tuttos (Tutti?)
Highlights included a duo of appetizers featuring Gusto’s white asparagus coated with pesto and insalata di mare Trapanese -- shrimp, squid and octopus with potato, red onions and capers. We also sampled 24-month-aged Parmigiano Reggiano, smooth textured with a wonderful salty taste, and a plate of affettati (cured meats), including finocchiona from Tuscany, salametto from the Veneto, and cacciatorini from Puglia. It should also be mentioned that the bread basket was impressive. Delicious, freshly baked breads.
The pasta course brought Tutto Gusto’s featured pasta: cavatappi, which is corkscrew shaped. (Wine bar. Corkscrew pasta. Get it?) This is a looser curl than the more commonly found fusilli, and it is tubed, sort of like a screwy macaroini. It was served tossed with arugula, pecorino cheese, pancetta and potatoes. Tasty.
The meat course was a braised short rib, a little too chewy, served on a pluff of creamy polenta, which was perfect.
Dessert, from the Italia menu, was a hazelnut polenta cake topped with nutella and cream cheese. I appreciated that it wasn’t overly sweet. It would have been perfect with a double espresso.
And, of course, we sipped an array of fine Italian wines, all of which are available by the glass in the Tutto Gusto space, with or without the foods. It’s nice to have another dining option, and the Patina group is proving to take great pride in their Epcot restaurants, which also includes Via Napoli, the critically acclaimed pizzeria next door.
Tutto Gusto does not take reservations (although it is part of the Disney Dining Plan, if that matters to you), but do plan on stopping by and having something to eat and drink the next time you’re in the park.
Patina's founder, Joachim Splichal, left, and CEO Nick Valenti, with Epcot vice president Erin Youngs.