Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Dining Review: Momma Melrose's
When you think of dining at Disney Hollywood Studios a few places come to mind. Most people would think of the Brown Derby, the SciFi, and the Prime Time Café. Most people would not mention Momma Melrose’s.
Momma Melrose’s is an Italian restaurant that’s somewhat hidden away near the Muppets. It has a sign but that sign doesn’t stick out. In fact if you were not looking for Momma Melrose’s you would possibly walk right by it and not even notice it.
The bottom line is this. Momma Melrose’s is forth on most people’s lists because of it’s out of the way location. Momma Melrose’s is a far better value than the Brown Derby, has better food than the Prime Time, and has far better food and is more laid back than the SciFi.
As far as park food goes. Momma Melrose’s has some of the best you’ll find at Disney Hollywood Studios. Granted the food is not as fancy as the food you’ll find at the Brown Derby but it’s still excellent. For example – for an appetizer I ordered the minestrone. Granted there were some better options and the minestrone was the cheapest option but if you order the soup you will find out what kind of place you are dealing with. A lot of restaurants use cheap premade soup and just reheat it. If Momma Melrose’s did that I could not tell. The soup was good. If they are using canned soup they are not cutting corners on quality.
For an entrée I ordered the Charred Strip Steak. Another test of a restaurant is to check and see if they can cook a steak to order. Momma Melrose’s can cook a steak to order. That’s all I was really looking for but that’s not all I got. There was something else that comes with the steak that is shocking. I’m now going to say something that is going to irk a lot of people.
Jiko does not have the best macaroni and cheese in Disney World. In fact it’s not even close. Momma Melrose’s serves a macaroni and cheese that puts Jiko’s to shame. I’ve had both. Jiko’s was cold and bland compared to the one at Momma Melrose’s. I did not expect to find something like this tucked away inside a theme park.
The deserts are what you would expect at an Italian restaurant. It’s hard to go wrong with any of the classics. The Panna Cotta, Chocolate Cannoli Cake, and the Chocolate Amerettini Cheesecake are all worth trying.
The service at Momma Melrose’s is up to Disney Standards. In fact it was a little better than our average Disney dining experience. Our server wanted to make sure we were informed and easily answered any questions we had. She even took the time to make sure I knew all of the ingredients in my order. She wanted to make sure I knew that they used pancetta to make their mac and cheese. This might sound odd but I guess they have run into problems with this. I guess some people have issues with pancetta.
The atmosphere at Momma Melrose’s is odd. It’s basically a warehouse with a lot of junk hanging everywhere. On the surface you would think that the Imagineers just cheesed out on this place. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Momma Melrose’s has one of the deepest back stories you can find. On top of that the actual history of how this restaurant came into existence is rather interesting. I’ve heard the history from both Jim Korkis and Jim Hill. If you Google them you should be able to find the detailed history. I’ll put the short story here.
Momma Melrose’s moved to Hollywood to try and become an actress. She couldn’t find any work so she started cooking for the actors out of a warehouse right next to the studio lots. The actors started giving her random gifts to help spruce the place up. She also just grabbed whatever she could find to decorate the place so it wouldn’t look like a warehouse.
When you know the back story the decor makes more sense and it actually becomes fun. You will start noticing all of the tiny little details that are packed into this place.
Now the actual history is much different. Momma Melrose’s was not on the original plans. It came about as a scramble to find something to stick in this building. The original plan was to have a Muppet’s themed restaurant. The Swedish Chef was going to be in the kitchen. Rizzo and his buddies would deliver food on a little track built into the place. It was going to be one crazy place to eat.
The Muppet’s idea ended up falling through and the Imagineers had to scramble. Sometimes great things happen when you don’t over plan something.
Momma Melrose’s is a hidden gem of a restaurant. Sadly in some ways it really is hidden. Don’t let that stop you. Try this place the next time you are in the Studios and want to hit a table service location for lunch.