Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tutto Gusto (pics)

Tutto Gusto wine cellar, a new small eatery in the Italy pavilion at Epcot, opened a week ago.

First, the prices. Yes, it’s expensive, but this is not only a Disney vacation, this is a top-quality place to relax with wine and small food items, so the entire set up kind of feels like a place where you should expect to spend a lot. The external menu hangs in front of the nearby Tutto Italia, rather than directly in front of the wine cellar.

In some ways, Tutto Gusto looks and works like a bar that you might see at Olive Garden, a holding place before the main restaurant (Tutto Italia). But I doubt many patrons are treating it as such, since the wait times can be long here, and the prices high.

You’ll find cheeses and cold cuts on the menu ($8 each, or $14 for a three-item combo), as well as small sandwiches ($12 for two is the better deal). All of the food items have that high-quality fine dining vibe to their presentation as well as gustatory payoff (they certainly TASTE expensive, and fresh, and unusual), so despite the prices you’ll pay for what looks like meager portions, you are not likely to feel ripped off.

The wine list dazzles and amazes. The term “shock and awe” comes to mind for those unprepared for the hefty binder that holds the entire wine list. I’m about the furthest from a oenologist that you can imagine, so I’ll just leave my ignorance out there twisting in the wind and move to the next subject. My wine-knowledgeable friend who came along was delighted, though, in what he saw, and he was happy indeed with the $45 bottle of Merlot he ended up buying.

The mood and atmosphere evokes that of a wine cellar, as the name implies. That’s not meant to sound dismissive. The places reeks of authenticity, and you’d swear it’s been here for a few decades. They spent money on things like brickwork arches, and an impressively intricate ceiling. Yes, it’s cramped inside, but once you’re ensconced in your table, you feel right at home. I know that Gemütlichkeit is a German term, not an Italian one, but the coziness of Tutto Gusto is definitely part of its charm. It’s expensive, but I’ll be visiting here again.

Kevin Yee is the author of numerous independent Disney books, including the popular Walt Disney World Earbook series and Walt Disney World Hidden History.