This week I was sent on the tastiest mission ever – to taste and sip my way through the Italy Pavilion at EPCOT! Of course I was excited – who doesn’t love Italian food?!) but I had no idea what I was in for. Hopefully the description below helps you get the best experience when you attend the Food and Wine Festival at EPCOT!
We started with my favorite offering of the day – Limoncello and Orangecello cocktails! Due to tradition, limoncello is always a popular choice in this pavilion. The drink contained a delightful combination of fresh fruit purees and alcohol – it was the perfect drink for a hot Florida day. My FAVORITE drink of the day was the Orangecello – hands down. They added a fresh strawberry puree to this drink and it was every bit as delicious you could imagine. This was the most popular drink of our group as well. Consider this your insider scoop to the good stuff:apparently no one orders this one because they opt for the more traditional choices – but this was the most recommended from the actual Italians and I can see why! Simply divine.
I also got to experience the infamous Italy Pizza Window – tucked way in the back of the Italy Pavilion. They are rarely open, but I received confirmation they will be open from now through January offering their special fare. I will say that the pizza is entirely different from that of Via Napoli, but it is just as divine. The crust is a thicker texture and is similar to a pan pizza but without the grease. It was a really good find! (PS: if you want to give the crust a spin at home, check out the recipe below!). They also offered meatball heros that were a HUGE hit! I personally would go with the pizza – it is what the pavilion is known for, after all – but if you’re in the mood for something different it was really popular!
Finally, we got to sample the Italy Food and Wine tent fare. The Italian Cast Members universally recommended the Chicken Parm, Moscato, and Chocolate Cannoli – so of course I got all three! They were all incredible. The cannoli held a special place in my heart as I am spoiled by NYC Italian cannolis and usually smell a fake from a mile away. This one had a chocolate dipped shell and the cream was both fresh and sweet. I really loved it.
Overall, I learned a really important lesson during this visit! I often overlook the “standard” offerings during Food and Wine in favor of the booths, but found that when you actually duck into the pavilions you find the rare gems! They up their menus during this time (for example, the divine Orangecello cocktail I mentioned is a seasonal add at the Donkey Cart) but people often overlook these thinking the only “new” stuff is at the tents. I encourage you to journey into the pavilions – the lines are shorter, the food is better, and there are some really cool seasonal offerings that you won’t get later in the year!
Thanks for reading along on my Food and Wine journey!
Hope to sip and stroll with you again soon!
Bake-at-Home Pizza Recipe from Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria Compliments of executive chef Charlie Restivo
This recipe will create two 8.5oz balls of dough that will make (2) 12-inch pizza crusts
3 cups flour (00 or King Arthur bread flour)
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons yeast (fresh brewer’s yeast or dry active yeast)
1 1/4 cup room temperature water
To Make The Dough
1. Add the yeast to the water and mix
2. Add the salt to the flour and stir
3. Transfer the water/yeast mixture to a mixing bowl then add the flour and salt to the bowl. Mix
with your hands until it starts to come together.
4. Once the dough starts to come together, transfer to a floure
d work surface and knead with your
hands for about 5 minutes until it starts to become elast
5. Divide the dough in half, form each into a ball, dust with
flour and cover with plastic wrap.
Let it rest at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours then refrigerate overnight.
To Make the Pizza
1. Take the two dough balls and let them stand until they get
to room temperature (about 20
minutes). At the same time place a pizza stone into an oven and preheat to 500 degrees.
2. Transfer the dough balls to a large floured work surface.
3. Stretch the dough from the middle to the edges until you get
a 12inch pizza crust. Repeat for
the second pizza.
4. Place one of the crusts onto a lightly floured pizza
peel and add your favorite toppings.
5. When ready, carefully slide the pizza off the peel an
d onto the pizza stone, quickly closing the
oven door (to reserve the heat).
6. Bake the pizza until the bottom has a nice golden brown
color and the cheese is melted but not
scorched (about 8-10 minutes depending on the oven).
7. Remove the pizza and let it cool slightly (just a minute
or two) so the cheese and toppings set.
Using a pizza wheel or very sharp chef’s knife cut and enjoy.
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