Tony’s Town Square Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom tends to get mixed reviews. Today, guest author Rebecca Elliott shares her family’s first-time experience at this Disney World restaurant.
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Like most families, my husband, daughter, and I have favorite restaurants in Disney World that we like to visit again and again. On our most recent trip, we decided to break out of the box and dine only in restaurants we haven’t tried before.
Tony’s Town Square Restaurant hasn’t been on our list mostly because I grew up in New Jersey and regularly prepare Italian-American dishes at home. Also, reviews for this spot have been mixed at best, so we weren’t sure we wanted to risk our meal plan credits. But, we were committed to our plan and chose to give Tony’s a shot. Besides, who can say no to a Lady & the Tramp theme?
The restaurant space on Main Street that houses Tony’s has been around since the park opened in 1971. Unlike the incredible theming of Disney restaurants today, previous dining venues in this space were sponsored by Oscar Meyer and Hormel. In 1989, Disney completely remodeled the restaurant and incorporated a Lady & the Tramp motif. Since the movie takes place in a Victorian-era American city, Main Street is the perfect backdrop.
The restaurant in the movie is famously Italian, and the atmosphere of Tony’s reflects this. From the black and white tiled floors to the dark wood banquettes, Disney does its best to deliver on this point.
The walls are decked with the artwork of Ducky Williams, a senior character artist at Walt Disney World. They are all original paintings.
There was a nice effect by our table – a painting of Lady & the Tramp appears behind a faux window, giving you the impression they are outside, about to kiss.
The centerpiece of the main dining room is a sweet fountain featuring Lady & the Tramp. It’s lovely to see older Disney movies and characters celebrated in this way.
There is a beautiful sunroom off the main dining room with lots of natural light that offers fantastic views of Main Street. I can see how this would be a terrific viewing spot for parades. Be sure to request this area if you plan on eating a meal during parade times.
As with all Disney restaurants, when you enter, you must first check in at the host stand. It is easy to see and well staffed. There is a small waiting area that loops the movie Lady & the Tramp on a TV to keep anxious children occupied if you have to wait. There was also a cast member with a Tony puppet entertaining would-be diners. We arrived a little early for our Advanced Dining Reservation, and they happily sat us.
We were led to a table that had two seats on a banquette and two chairs. When my husband sat on the banquette, we were disappointed to find that it was too low to comfortably enjoy his meal. The server quickly brought him a chair, and the problem was resolved.
The menu features loads of Italian-American favorites. We each chose to try something different. Since my life’s mission is to find the perfect meatball, I went with the meatball sliders. I was expecting smallish bland sandwiches with a little sauce. Boy was I wrong!
Instead, I got three medium-to-large sandwiches and a heaping portion of potato chips. The meatballs were a balanced combination of meat (beef and sausage), breadcrumbs, cheese, and herbs with no single component overwhelming the others. They were topped with house-made marina, provolone cheese (melted just enough to make it soft but not gooey), and a little arugula (for a spicy kick). All this on focaccia rolls that didn’t get mushy or fall apart, even with loads of sauce on them.
My daughter ordered the spaghetti and meatballs – an Italian-American classic. A very large portion of pasta arrived, with the same marina and meatballs as my dish, only with smaller meatballs. I’ve read in many sources that people wished the dish came with more sauce. I would have to agree with that observation. It was accompanied by a piece of toasted bread sprinkled with cheese. Not a fussy dish, but satisfying and plenty to eat. My daughter enjoyed it.
My husband tried the shrimp scampi with sundried tomatoes and asparagus. I make shrimp scampi pretty regularly, so I had a preconceived idea of what this dish would be. It is a diversion from the familiar, but still delicious. The shrimp is not dredged in flour and sautéed. Instead, it appears to be poached in a broth of wine, butter, garlic, lemon, and parsley.
The flavor profile of the original is there, but is lighter and with more liquid to coat the large portion of spaghetti it is served with. The veggies (asparagus and sundried tomatoes) round out the dish and give it an earthy flavor.
On to dessert! Again, we all tried something different. I had the pistachio crème brulee. The delicately browned top had a nice crack to it as I broke through to the creamy center. The pistachio flavor wasn’t noticeable, but it still tasted good. The portion was generous.
My daughter had the chocolate gelato. Two scoops of smooth and creamy ice cream were served with a piece of biscotti. Very yummy.
My husband chose the chocolate cake. Two layers of chocolate cake smothered in a hazelnut chocolate frosting and garnished with chopped hazelnuts and a piece of chocolate. It looked more chocolatey than it tasted, but was still enjoyable.
There’s a lot of mixed chatter on the internet about this restaurant. I think people should approach it with a different mind set. If you want authentic Italian cuisine with bold flavors and every component made to order, you’re best bet isn’t a theme park restaurant. If you’re looking for a place with satisfying Italian-American dishes (served quickly so you can get back to the park) in a clean and well-themed environment, Tony’s is for you.
We were pleasantly surprised by our experience, from the food, to the service, to the way the staff handled our complaint. And you can’t beat the location. It’s a restaurant everyone should try at least once.
And when you’re leaving, be sure to take a peek at Lady and the Tramp’s paw prints in the cement outside the restaurant!
Rebecca Elliott writes and hosts the food blog Home Cooks Unite! She is a dedicated foodie and Disney enthusiast whose latest trip to the Magic Kingdom included some incredible dining experiences.
Have you had a delicious meal at Tony’s? Let us know any dishes that your family enjoyed at this restaurant!