REVIEW: Great Drinks, Good Appetizers, Terrible Entrees, and $15,000 Pasta Disappointments from Topolino’s Terrace Dinner at Disney’s Riviera Resort
Topolino is the Italian name for Mickey Mouse, and the new, signature table-service restaurant perched on the rooftop of Disney’s Riviera Resort is aptly named Topolino’s Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera. We spent opening night here to take in some views, watch some fireworks, and eat half our weight in pasta, steak, and seafood. If you’re in the mood for lighter fare, we also enjoyed Breakfast à la Art with Mickey & Friends here as well, but tonight, we’re putting away the cargo shorts and dressing up for some fine, signature dining.
Evening dining takes place at Topolino’s from 5:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and counts as two table service entitlements for dinner on the Disney Dining Plan. Discounts for Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members are also available.
Topolino’s Terrace Dinner – Atmosphere
The overall design for Topolino’s Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera takes inspiration from the cliffside restaurants of France and Italy, a modern interpretation of the textures, colors, carved details and stonework found in ancient villages along the Riviera. If you’re getting Gran Destino deja vu again, that’s because the expo kitchen and open grill are very similar here. I wish they would’ve taken more chances with the design here––I’m thinking themed volcano ovens like Via Napoli––yet instead we get spaghetti chandeliers… but it still somehow works.
When you arrive at Topolino’s Terrace, there’s one central check-in desk. Do note that you can only reach Topolino’s Terrace using the East Wing elevators. If you’re staying over on the West Wing, we recommend cutting through the lobby and taking the elevators up to the 10th floor.
The check-in desk is flanked on both sides by fridges with long strands of pasta (and trays of pasta nests) and large cheese wheels. (If you’re looking to use the restroom at any point, there’s men’s and women’s restrooms, plus a companion restroom down the corridor to the left.)
Much like Toledo in Disney’s Gran Destino Tower, Topolino’s Terrace follows the rooftop dining trend, offering stunning views thanks to the floor-to-ceiling windows. While characters are the main draw at breakfast, at night, the restaurant’s main selling point is the ability for guests to view the nearby nighttime spectaculars at EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Topolino’s Terrace – Rooftop Bar
If you want to start out your night early, Topolino’s outdoor terrace bar opens at 5:00 PM, and we were able to walk past the restaurant and over to the outdoor lounge area without a reservation.
Do keep in mind that space is limited here, and they do cap it after a few people, so you may not always be able to be seated. Still, it’s one of the most relaxing experiences you can have, as the sunsets are perfectly breezy and gorgeous on a clear day.
The outdoor terrace has its very own drink menu, although there is a lot of overlap with the menu inside.
Beverages include alcoholic cocktails and spirits, plus specialty coffees, teas, and even a few non-alcoholic mocktails.
Wines are separated and categorized by type and region.
There are also a number of beers on tap and bottled, plus some hard ciders and sparkling water.
As you can see, the views here at sunset are extremely vibrant, thanks to a landscape of resorts, Skyliner gondolas, and park sightlines.
As the sun sets behind the Hollywood Tower Hotel…
Move over, Oga’s Cantina. Topolino’s has these adorable themed paper coasters with the restaurant logo on it.
With some afternoon drinks underway, it was time to start our four-hour meal…
Topolino’s Terrace Dinner – Menus
We were given a corner 8-top table by one of the entrances to the outer patio. While this corner was somewhat dark and dimly-lit compared to other parts of the restaurant, access to the outdoor patio for fireworks and photos couldn’t have been easier.
Dinner begins with these large, wood-covered menus featuring the restaurant logo. We love when logos get used across all mediums, and seeing it everywhere from the napkins, to the menus, and the coasters harkens back to a time when resort theming was consistently taken to the next level.
An expansive cocktail, wine, and beer menu graces the first page.
And then on the second page, you have the entirety of the food menu, which consists of Antipasto, Starters, Hand-crafted Pastas, and Seafood & Meats.
Topolino’s Terrace Dinner – Bread Service
Dinner begins with complimentary bread service, which is comprised of tear-and-share Epi bread, and two kinds of cold-pressed olive oil from regions of France and Italy.
The two olive oils are poured into lovely wooden dipping bowls which are beautiful to look at, but clumsy to shuffle around the table.
While the shape and backstory behind the bread is interesting, the bread itself is pretty plain, and the olive oil, while high quality, didn’t really come through in terms of flavor. (I knew I should’ve brought some Spice Packs from Little Caesar’s, but I digress.)
Heritage Hog Terrine – $18.00
Brioche, Heirloom Apple, Celery, Endive
I don’t expect this dish to last very long on the menu. It’s far too bizarre for the average guest, and even the most adventurous of eaters at our table likened it to “cat food.” (I should have brought Gordo along…) A tartare or pate would’ve been a finer option here, as opposed to the much chunkier terrine, which was essentially a slab of ham hock and assorted pork meat.
Olives Marinées – $9.00
Lemon, Garlic, Marjoram, Bay Leaf
Disney’s go-to appetizer for the plant-based crowd seems to be olives… but honestly, they’re so good, I’m not even mad about it. All of the olives included in this dish are extremely flavorful, rich, and salty, making it a perfect pairing with any cocktail on the menu. It’s also very shareable, so for $9.00, it isn’t a bad option.
Gnocchi – $16.00
Duck Confit, Pesto Bianco, Garden Kale, Pine Nuts
If you get anything when you come to Topolino’s Terrace, make it this gnocchi. If the chefs at Topolino’s are reading this, please make the gnocchi an entree, because I could eat my weight in it.
The handmade, pillowy potato pasta swims in a silky, creamy sauce studded with pine nuts for crunch. Even the greens tasted amazing in this, and that’s coming from a few of us at the table who are kale-averse. I’m not big on duck, but you can’t even tell it’s there since all the ingredients meld so well together. $16.00 is on the pricey side for a tiny bowl of pasta, but it’s worth every penny.
Ricotta – $14.00
Tomato, Aged Balsamic, Cracked Pepper, Basil, Epi
The ricotta is served on a layer of olive oil that’s dotted with aged balsamic and a slightly tangy tomato reduction, with a stalk of Epi bread. This was incredibly fresh and light, and if you’re a cheese fan, you’ll like this, but you’ll love the next dish…
Burrata con Panna – $18.00
Black Winter Truffle, Italian Olive Oil, Seed Lavosh, Sea Salt
Besides the duck confit, this is the next must-have on the Antipasto menu. Between the black truffle shavings and a full sphere of fresh burrata, this is a dish with high-end ingredients to merit its price.
This isn’t your average ball of mozzarella, neither. Burrata is extremely soft and tender since the outer shell is solid mozzarella, while the inside contains stracciatella and cream. That means when you break into the shell with either a fork or the crispy lavosh, it oozes salty, creamy goodness that will have everyone at the table clamoring to scrape it up. Definitely get this!
While not an escargot connoisseur myself, I know a number of people who go nuts over these, and they aren’t easy to find, especially in the shell as they’re prepared at Topolino’s. If any number of people in your group like escargot or are even curious about trying them, get this for the mere novelty of it.
The extraction process may not be for everyone, but once you get past the concept of eating snails, you’ll realize that these tender morsels of butter and garlic are well worth the effort.
The story behind the pastas at Topolino’s Terrace is that they are all made in-house with the use of a $15,000 pasta machine that was imported from Europe. Based off of the pastas we tried, we hope they kept the receipt.
We’re starting off the hand-crafted pastas with the best one out of the bunch. This bowl of warm, creamy goodness caught the attention of everyone at the table, mainly because you could smell how amazing it was, even from afar.
The taste of the dish was well balanced with the combination of the sauce and the braised chicken. The dandelion greens were big and just mixed into the pasta, but didn’t do much for the overall flavor of the dish. The sauce is really the thing that made this dish. It was thick and creamy, and coated the pasta and chicken perfectly. Unlike the soggy linguine that followed, the rigatoni was cooked perfectly al dente.
Linguine Scampi – $36.00
Shrimp, San Marzano Tomatoes, Garlic, Lemon, Italian Olive Oil, Verbena, Bottarga
As I present you with the image of these beady-eyed shrimps, a bit of backstory: I wanted to love this dish from the moment the full menu was announced for Topolino’s. As the kind of person who unapologetically always orders the shrimp pasta in virtually most restaurants, I’ve spent the past few weeks leading up to the resort’s opening daydreaming of al dente pasta and well-seasoned garlic shrimp.
I imagined tender pasta cooked to perfection, a slightly silky, but not too heavy scampi sauce, and thick, plump shrimp with a bit of a snap… and I was sorely disappointed. Even when the dry, sauceless noodles were set before me, shrimp staring vacantly back at me from the plate, I clung to the hope that the dish would still taste good. After all, even the worst pasta dish can be saved by asking for some parmesan shavings… right? Wrong.
This was a bowl of overcooked (albeit housemade, I’ll give them that) pasta sitting in a watery, tasteless scampi sauce. The predominant flavors here were just plain, flavorless pasta and overwhelmingly fishy shrimp, which appeared to have been poached, and the water leeching out all of the fishiness and the flavor. The blanched, peeled Roma tomatoes were an odd accompaniment, but they too had been robbed of all their flavor. At one point, I figured I’d pick out the shrimp and just eat those… until I realized there were just five of them, and none of them very large.
You may see reviews out there, from this same opening night, stating that this dish was “rich”, even vaguely “spicy” by some standards… this was not that pasta. This was the dish that was passed around the table not because of how good it was, but because of the sheer amusement we all got from seeing people’s reaction after tasting it. I haven’t given up on Riviera pasta just yet. Try the Shrimp Linguine downstairs at Primo Piatto for a taste of what this dish should have been––and like the lovely Cast Member said, it’s far more delicious when the shrimp don’t stare back at you.
This was one of the recommendations from our server, so we were somewhat excited to see what one of the premier pasta dishes at the restaurant would taste like.
While the pasta wasn’t bad, it was also generally flavorless. There was a slight spice from the Calabrian chilies, and the whole dish was coated in quality olive oil, but those were essentially the two main flavors that came out from this dish. Call us simpletons, but the giant slivers of Pecorino Romano at the top were arguably the best part. In fact, we wished there were more cheese shavings.
Unlike the Linguine, which was borderline inedible, this dish was fine, it just needed more flavor… Also, if you’re expecting some kind of protein here, do note that this dish is just pasta. No chicken, seafood, or anything. It’s also along the smaller serving sizes, given that the bowls are deceptively small. This dish would be good for someone looking for simple flavors, but if you’re capable of making spaghetti and coating it with olive oil and red pepper flakes at home, you’re in for disappointment.
Seafood and Meats
King Salmon Mi-Cuit -$46.00
Artichoke Risotto, Sauce Vierge, Upland Cress, French Olive Oil
This was another server recommendation out of the seafood options. The salmon was served steak style, with the skin still on. It was stacked on top of a puddle of risotto, olive oil, and roasted tomatoes.
The fish here was cooked medium rare, according to the chef’s suggestions, but because of that, it wasn’t the tender, flaky salmon we had in mind. It was actually rather mushy. Some bites had a nice grilled flavor to them, but overall, it was still rather bland.
The risotto was kind of flavorless too, unless you mopped up some sauce with your forkful. While awkward to cut in a bowl, the artichoke stems were rather tasty, especially mixed in with the rest of the ingredients in the dish. While this wasn’t a bad dish, we’d still consider it a poor value against other items.
Bouillabaisse – $48.00
Provençal Fish Stew-Seared Black Cod, Turbot, Cockles, Mussels, Fennel, Saffron Rouille
This was another recommended dish, and the way it’s plated and presented leads you to believe that this is the stand-out dish of the menu… however, this dish also suffered from “Scampi Syndrome”, in that everything in it was overly fishy. This was Tom’s dish, and I don’t know him to shy away from seafood, but all of the flavors in here were just way too strong and overpowering, and not in a flavor-bomb kind of way.
Again, you get an oversized bowl of seafood in briny, pungent broth, plus some more Epi bread, and a mollusk shell with saffron rouille sauce. It’s a beautiful presentation that’s wasted on one of the worst dishes at the restaurant, linguine aside.
Watching this arrive at the table is somewhat obscene, with a large bone sticking out of the plate and possibly over to the other side of the table. The giant veal chop takes up most of the large plate, with a tiny cast iron La Cocotte pot keeping the potato gratin wonderfully warm. It’s cooked expertly, with extra flavorful crevices by the seared tops and edges.
No one expected the veal to be this good, but it was extremely flavorful and juicy, and compared to everyone’s lackluster pasta, it really stole the show. We all got a slice to try, and we all kept begging the proud wielder of the veal chop for more throughout our meal. The potato-onion gratin, while unassuming, is also delectable, and pairs beautifully with the veal. If you decide to dine at Topolino’s for dinner, we cannot recommend the veal chop enough, in terms of both value and taste.
The filet is always the safe option at restaurants (except, of course, if you’re at Toledo), so this was another easy showstopper.
The filet comes sliced in half, and cooked to a perfect medium. It wasn’t gristly or chewy in the least––in fact, it was extremely tender and soft. The potatoes were slightly grainy, but had a nice garlicky flavor to them, which was a nice touch.
If you’re looking for meat––and Topolino’s has proven they can make a mean steak––the filet is a good option, but unless you’re strongly opposed to veal, I’d still recommend getting the veal. You can split that dish easily with an extra side, but not the filet.
It was small, creative touches that really wowed us throughout the meal. Once you’re done inhaling that giant veal chop or picking through head-on shrimp, you’re presented with these fascinating refreshers. These are compressed napkin tablets which you drop into the tiny corresponding vat of rose water, and then watch in amazement as they expand. There were lots of jokes at the table about grow-your-own-dinosaur toys and such, but it was a great way to freshen up after the main course and prep for the next chapter in the meal.
Topolino’s Terrace Dinner – Dessert Menu
The dessert menu is presented in a smaller version of the larger main menu, still with wood accents, and even an adorable metal embossed logo:
A variety of coffees, lattes, and teas are available if you’re looking to caffeinate after dinner.
A total of six dessert options are available, with a plant-based offering, as well as a savory cheese board, which comes fancifully delivered in a cheese cart. We didn’t get the cheese board this time around, but given how “extra” it is, we’d recommend it if you don’t mind cheese for dessert.
Warm Valrhona Chocolate Cake – $14.00
Caramel Center, Chantilly, Raspberries
Much like the filet, there’s little that can go wrong here. This is your usual lava cake offering, leveled up with the addition of deep, dark Valrhona chocolate. This dessert was the first to be polished off, especially given how familiar and comforting the mix of warm cake, tart raspberries, and vanilla ice cream is. It may not be the most creative of desserts, but it certainly checked off all the right boxes. The center of the cake oozes caramel, the raspberries are coated with additional raspberry sauce, and the vanilla gelato is creamy and perfect. My favorite component has to be the vanilla bean-speckled dollop of cream with a chocolate disk.
Apple Tarte Tartin – $12.00
Vanilla Gelato, Chantilly, Blackberries
This dessert came highly recommended, and while it was well executed, it was still rather plain and forgettable. Similar to the chocolate cake, the combination of warm dessert and gelato can’t be beat.
The blackberries were fresh, and the plating here was also very cute with the chocolate… squiggle, but we wouldn’t necessarily say this is a must-get here.
Pistachio Mousse – $12.00
Chocolate Cake, Lemon Curd, Morello Cherry
I’m the wrong person to ask about any mousse dessert on property. They’re so overdone by now, it’s practically a theme park dessert trope at this point. That being said, if you aren’t tired of shiny mousse desserts yet, this would be good for a true pistachio aficionado.
The filling is incredibly creamy and zesty with lemon notes, and if you grab a sweet morello cherry, it adds an interesting twist. Overall, not a must-get… unless you really love pistachio.
These were quite popular with the table, and are easily shared. The gelato here comes from the local Muse Gelato company, which is based in Orlando, and it’s absolutely silky and perfect. The pistachio gelato here is the real stand-out, but the chocolate and salted caramel are also excellent. Definitely get this if you’re unsure which dessert to opt for.
Fruits of the Forest – $14.00
Black Currant Mousse, Blueberry Sorbet, Macerated Berries, Hibiscus Cake
I knew we had to get this to do right by our vegan readers, and I’m glad we did. While the lava cake was the gratuitous winner, this dessert really stands out on basis of appearance and flavor. Each component was delicious, from the tiny merengues, to the lemon curd, and the sorbet. A word of warning on the sorbet, however… while billed as simply blueberry sorbet, it is paired with basil, giving it a strong, herbal zing you definitely won’t see coming.
If you’re looking for a dessert that’s bright, refreshing, and zesty, this is for you.
French Rose – $14.00
Grey Goose Le Citron Vodka, Combier Crème de Pamplemousse Rose Liqueur, Raspberry, Agave, Lemon, Soda Water
For its name, appearance, and ingredients, we had high hopes for this cocktail. However, this tasted almost identically to pink lemonade. (Specifically powdered Country Time lemonade.) We could barely taste the alcohol in this one, and while it was certainly pretty, it was hardly worth the price.
Midi Spritz – $14.00
Magellan Gin, Aperol, Grapefruit, Saint-Hilaire Blanquette de Limoux Brut
This tasted more akin to a wine spritzer. While I wouldn’t necessarily get this again, it wasn’t bad, and was a fairly large drink––enough to last throughout most of the meal as the ice slowly melted.
Terrace Negroni – $14.00
Malfy Original Gin, Campari, Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth
With all of the more straightforward cocktails, you’re looking at strong blends of alcohol, so tread carefully if you’re more into the first few drinks we reviewed.
A good twist on a classic cocktail. The drink is very whiskey-forward, but mixes well with the rum to give it a unique, yet familiar taste for an Old Fashioned. The vanilla seems to add a pleasant aroma to the drink as well. This is a mellow old fashioned, and worth a try… but there are still better whiskey drinks on the menu.
Euro Manhattan – $16.00
Gentleman Jack Whiskey, Amaro Averna, Coca-Cola®, Aromatic and Orange Bitters
I took one sip of this, made a face, and handed it over to someone else. Unless you like the strong herbal notes of Amaro Averna, steer clear of this Manhattan.
Boulevardier – $17.00
Knob Creek Disney Select Single Barrel Bourbon, Campari, Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth
The Boulevardier was my favorite cocktail, with the bourbon and vermouth mixing perfectly. (The fancy goblet also helps.)
Pomo d’Oro Cocktail – $18.00
Elijah Craig 12 yr Small Batch Bourbon, Busnel VSOP Pays d´Auge Calvados, Lillet Blanc, Brown Butter Tincture, Demerara Sugar
The Demerara sugar in this cocktail gave it a slight sweetness to offset the strong alcohol taste, making it very smooth.
The Aristocrat – $15.00
Knob Creek Disney Select Single Barrel Bourbon, Campari, Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth
Don’t let the fancy name fool you. It’s a Manhattan. A solid Manhattan, but nothing special. The Campari acts as the bitters and gives the drink a slight fruity taste. There are better pure and specialty Manhattans on property.
The Frizzante Anise Brezza was refreshing and had a sweet and slightly tart flavor, with a small hint of mint. We couldn’t pick up the flavor of the alcohol in this one, but the presentation is superb. Possibly a year-round favorite.
Champagne Cocktail – $21.00
Moët & Chandon Impérial Brut, Aperol, Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth
If you’re in the mood for champagne with a twist, this was a fairly good cocktail, but not a must-have.
Sazerac VS – $17.00
Courvoisier VS Cognac, Ricard Pastis de Marseille, Peychaud’s Bitters, Sugar
This drink is a passable take on a classic cocktail. A true Sazerac has both cognac and whiskey. This offers just cognac, and although it is a good cognac on its own, I don’t think it carries the weight in this drink. I’d actually choose the Scat Cat’s version in Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter that opts for just rye whiskey, but seems to complement the other flavors much better.
Topolino’s Terrace Dinner – Fireworks
While fireworks are advertised as the major draw for Topolino’s Terrace, the views inside the restaurant are marred by glare. If you’re here through firework viewing times (9:00 PM – 9:30 PM), your server will work with you to ensure that your entrees stay warm and your desserts don’t melt while you wait outside. (It’s just one aspect of the incredible service we experienced here.)
The view of the fireworks from the outdoor terrace wasn’t exactly breathtaking, but it does feel special to experience them at this new resort, and because of the vantage point, you can pretty much watch fireworks from Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, and EPCOT in sequence. Do note that while we were told that music from EPCOT Forever would be piped in, it never was. During portions of EPCOT Forever, however, you can see the illuminated kites zooming by in the distance. While I wouldn’t recommend coming here just for the fireworks, the combined experience (e.g.: delicious gnocchi, strong cocktails, dining at an inspired new resort) is worth a reservation here. Much like California Grill, you can also return here with your receipt if you had an earlier reservation.
Topolino’s Terrace Dinner – Overall
While we still vastly prefer Breakfast at Topolino’s Terrace, the service remained impeccable throughout Dinner, and while a lot of heavily-advertised entrees failed to meet expectations, the restaurant still boasts some craftfully made starters and cocktails. Service-wise, we were constantly tended to by a full team of servers. Whenever any of us would leave to the terrace or to the bathroom, we’d come back to our napkins perfectly folded, which is what dining should be like at every Signature Restaurant. We even got a rare look at a flavor infusion smoke gun that the restaurant keeps for special occasions…
Gadgets and $15,000 pasta machines aside, we just want to make sure you have the best Topolino experience for you and your family. If you can only pick one dining experience, go for breakfast. If you’re here for Dinner, stick with starters, cocktails, and steak, and avoid the hyped seafood and pasta dishes.
Also, plan for a lengthy meal. Granted, we took 300 photos over the course of our meal, but three courses and fireworks viewing could easily take up three to four hours of your time, especially if you’re a large group, so plan accordingly.
As the Resort irons out its kinks over the next few months, it’ll be interesting to see what, if any, changes occur to the menu, or whether any improvements are made for optimal fireworks viewing. If you’ve dined here, let us know how your experience was!