Yesterday was the official kickoff of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival – it is earlier than ever this year! We were invited to try some of the new food and drink items in the Italy pavilion. There is not only a Festival kiosk, but new items within the pavilion at the Via Napoli Pizza Window and drinks at the Donkey Cart. Here is a look at items we tried.
Before talking about our experience yesterday, I wanted to mention that Via Napoli is our tradition for almost every Epcot festival opening day. Even during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, we almost always take a break with a pizza during the mid-afternoon for a late lunch. The pizza here has spoiled me for almost any other pizza since it opened in 2010 and the tropical flavored iced tea is my favorite at Epcot too.
Our Italy adventure yesterday started just after World Showcase opened. There are two restaurants here – Via Napoli and Tutto Italia Ristorante, plus the Via Napoli Pizza Window and Donkey Cart. Oh – and Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar as well, which is attached to Tutto Italia. Tutto Gusto specializes in wine and small plate dishes. A friend from Belgium calls me “pasta lady” because I love Italian food, so this pavilion is one we visit frequently.
We started off yesterday at the Via Napoli Donkey Cart, which serves a variety of drinks as well as gelato and sorbetto. Almost 20 years ago, I discovered an Italian wine during the Festival that became my overall favorite – Rosa Regale. We didn’t have it yesterday, but it is like…dessert in a glass. And it pairs so well with chocolate.
We learned about newer drink options that are available. One is the Orangecello Cocktail, which is what we tried. It has orangecello, orange juice, pineapple juice, and peach puree.
The Orangecello was perfect on a hot day – the heat index was about 105 yesterday, and this was light and refreshing.
The Via Napoli Pizza Window has some newer items as well.
Chef Charlie Restivo brought out the Pizza Bianca for us to try, with pomodoro, prosciutto, argula, and fresh mozzarella. I will note that the pizza here is not the same as the pizza inside – so you can have both and enjoy two totally different experiences. The Pizza Bianca is also served at room temperature. And there is Pizza Pepperoni and Pizza Margherita at the window.
Here is a close up on the pizza, it was individually sliced but on trays for our group.
With the pizza, we enjoyed the Limoncello Mule and a Menabrea Bruna beer. Menabrea is the oldest continuous producing brewery in Italy, founded in 1846. The mule includes Wild Sardinia vodka, pineapple juice, peach puree’, lime juice and ginger beer – and was another great option for a hot day.
Next up was the Polpette E Mozzarella Parmigiana, also found at the Via Napoli Pizza Window. Honestly, these beef and veal meatballs were highly addictive. They come with tomato sauce, mozzarella, parmigiano, fresh basil and bread. It was a nice portion size.
Here is a closer look at the meatballs. Of everything we tried yesterday, this was probably my favorite.
This is the bottle for the Menabrea Ambrata beer.
The Crispy Calamari was up next, and this is at the Italy Epcot Food & Wine kiosk. It has spicy pomodoro sauce on top.
Prosecco is also sold at the booth, and it went very well with the meal.
Another of our favorites was the Absolut Penne, which comes with vodka sauce and shrimp. I don’t eat shrimp, but the penne was solid.
By the time we got to the Spezzatino con Polenta, I was ready to say “basta” (the food here is delicious but oh so filling) – I wish I had saved room for the full portion of beef stew. The beef was very tender and it comes with a parmesan creamy polenta. I expect to order this during the Festival. This may be my second favorite item I tried.
But there is always room for dessert, and the Cannoli al Cioccoloato isn’t too big – it’s a nice portion when you have up to 35 booths to conquer at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. I don’t eat a lot of cannoli, so it is a treat when I do. This comes with sweet ricota, chocolate and candied fruit.
Here is a closer look at the cannoli.
We highly recommend stopping at Italy during your visit to the Epcot Food & Wine Festival! This is the pavilion we dine most in all year round, and especially during the different festivals.