Downtown Disney at Disneyland has been busy refurbishing some of its restaurants and shops and Naples is one of the recent dining establishments to receive a makeover. Its location is in a prime spot where it is right next door to the Mickey and Friends tram loading and unloading, but with it being an original Downtown Disney restaurant it needed a few changes to fit the ever-changing resort.
Room With a View
A few of us got to taste some of the menus for the newly renovated upstairs dining room and patio. I’ll get to the menu shortly, but first some thoughts on the new seating area.
Formerly, the upstairs was an open-air roof patio. In California, it is not uncommon to have something like this. Weather is quite pleasant most of the year. But, there are the times that it gets quite chilly, or there can be some strong gusts especially through a second story patio. Naples now has an enclosed upstairs dining room, but also a patio to keep some ambiance to a great restaurant.
It is bright inside the room, with a very stark white color to the walls. But, it allows for some nice warm sunlight reflection during the day. Overhead are nests of lights that look like wire clouds. They sparkled amidst the already bright room providing a starry sky look. From where we sat I kept gazing at the elevator, which provided a view of the gears. It seemed steampunk to me, yet modern with a black and white paint job.
Outside on the patio was one of the best views of Downtown Disney. You can enjoy the hustle and bustle of those below while elegantly sipping wine. On the back wall of the patio was a Roman-like water feature. It completed the Italian theme of both the menu and restaurant and was surprisingly not out of place for a modern looking venue. It brought sophistication to the simple decor of the rest of the patio. As for possible bad weather, the windows are typically halfway up but can be cranked to nearly make a wall. Yet, it allows guests to still take in the view.
Tickling Taste Buds
For now, the menu for the lounge area downstairs is pizza and salads. To select from the pasta and other entrees, one must go upstairs. Because of this, our party tried selections from the pasta and entree portion of the menu.
Before we took in these dishes we had the appetizer, or Piccoli Piatti, of Panzerotti. It is a fried pizza dough filled with mozzarella, ricotta, Parmesan, and comes with marinara to dip it in. The other appetizers sounded great, but I think we chose the best. Even though it was fried it was not greasy. Having a number of cheeses inside didn’t have any overpower each other. It was a delicious dish to whet the appetite.
In our party of 3, we picked different plates to try out. Among them, we tried the Barramundi Alla Livornese which is a Seabass with spinach, tomato, capers, olives, garlic, onions, and chili flakes, the Pollo Parmigiana which is a breaded chicken parmigiana, and the Garganelli which is quill shaped pasta with cream, chicken, broccoli, chili flakes, and Parmesan. The Garganelli was my choice and I can mostly speak to it. It had one of the best cream sauces I’ve ever had on pasta! I liked the spiciness of the chili flakes with it to give a contrasting taste. It was not too spicy but had just enough kick to it. The chicken was tender and cut to easily eaten bite-size pieces. The broccoli was cooked to perfection as well, and that can usually destroy a dish if cooked wrong.
Even though I didn’t try the other dishes, the presentation was photogenic enough to impress me. Hearing from the others they were delighted with their choices. The bass was recommended to us and it sounds like it did not disappoint.
We did have dessert and picked specific dishes because of their originality to the restaurant. The Patina Group is the head company of the restaurant, and some others in Downtown Disney and Disney Springs. They do dictate certain items even having some ingredients sent from a central location. I don’t want that to deter anyone from trying the food or thinking that it’s just microwaved. These are all still cooked and put together in the restaurant. One of the items, the Cannoloni, has dough sent from The Patina Group but is cooked at the restaurant. Inside the Cannoloni is an original to the restaurant cream filling that includes chocolate chips. It was not our favorite dessert but was still delicious with a not too sweet flavor to it.
The other two desserts were hard to put away from our full stomachs. We had the Tiramisu and the Panna Cotta, which are two signatures to the restaurant. The Tiramisu is an espresso flavored lady finger dessert sliced a bit into a cake. The Panna Cotta is a light custard dessert. The Tiramisu is delicious and has a nice balance of the sweet and bitter coffee flavor. The cake is light for it absorbing some of the liquid and flavor. The Panna Cotta was a nice light end to a meal. It had a great orange flavor that would be appreciated by those that don’t like citrus items for dessert. And that comes from a chocolate lover that almost picked a chocolate gelato instead!
Our Italian Experience
Something a bit unique to our time at Naples was being able to converse with Gabriele, the general manager. He is from Italy and provided a great background to why the menu has certain items on it. We were entertained by his stories of the big meals his family would prepare for weekends, which is a common occurrence in Italy. It sounded like how we Americans will prepare grand holiday meals and spend the day eating through it all. This happens on one day each weekend for Italians! We also learned about what weekday meals are like for Italians. It’s more about eating small portions every couple of hours (also at times with wine in the evening). We enjoyed the great cultural lessons he explained and was such a joyful and excited host. He even gave a great tip that I’ll have to try the next time I go: one of the desserts is an Affogato which is espresso and a scoop of vanilla gelato. But, you can ask for chocolate espresso and it makes for a rich mocha dessert!
Gabriele and the staff made this seemingly one-of-a-kind experience. I say seemingly because this food and service is available anytime you go! The ambiance is terrific! The menu is definitely something to try! It is practically a new restaurant for Downtown Disney yet has been there all along! I’m looking forward to the next time I eat there!