REVIEW: Bar Riva at Disney’s Riviera Resort Offers Some of the Best-Valued Dishes of Any Disney World Lounge
If there’s anywhere to be on the French or Italian Riviera, it’s waterside, and there’s no better place to grab a bite in between bouts of frolicking in the S’il Vous Play water area and swimming in the Riviera Pool of Disney’s Riviera Resort than Bar Riva. This breezy, open-air eatery brings together the best elements of food and drink offerings throughout the resort, making for an easy spot to get a snack, a light meal, and a few cocktails without the hassle of a reservation. While the pools at Riviera are reserved solely for guests staying at the resort, anyone can dine at Bar Riva, so gather up some friends and head over on the Disney Skyliner for a refreshing midday park break or a carefree night out.
Bar Riva is located right by the Riviera Pool, adjacent to the resort’s fast casual restaurant, Primo Piatto.
Despite being semi-outdoors, the space is outfitted with ceiling fans and space heaters, making it comfortable for dining regardless of the weather outside.
There’s high and low bar counter seating, plus some tables and a long wall of bench seating.
One of our favorite touches is this set of hand-drawn murals. On one side, you have the coastline with a Disney Cruise Line ship sailing on the horizon.
On the other side, you have Disney’s Riviera Resort set against the actual Riviera, with a number of sailboats idling along the coast.
The bar features its very own themed menu, along with oval-shaped resort logo coasters.
(We’re suckers for resort-specific or themed coasters of any kind.)
The menu features a selection of drinks that can be found at other locations within the resort like Topolino’s Terrace and Le Petit Cafe, plus some specialty frozen and iced cocktails, wines, beers, and hard ciders:
Food-wise, there are hot and cold sandwich options, plus salads, entrees, and desserts. Bar Riva shares a kitchen with the neighboring Primo Piatto, so you’ll see a lot of overlap with their menus here, which is a good thing in case you’re feeling like a big ol’ bowl of shrimp pasta after working up an appetite in the pool:
And yes, because this is still Disney, there’s even a Kids Meal menu at the bar. Options like Grilled Chicken and a Cheeseburger are served with baby tomatoes, fresh fruit, and your choice of milk or water:
We’ll start out with the drinks and move onto the food.
Le Bourbon Breeze – $15.00
Jim Beam Black Extra-aged Bourbon, Cranberry, Lime, Pomegranate, Ginger Beer
Le Bourbon Breeze was fruity enough from the pomegranate, lime, and cranberry juice, without being cloyingly sweet. If you’re looking for a strong hit from the ginger beer, this isn’t it.
It’s well crafted, but not nearly as special or memorable as the following drink on our review…
Almande Grog – $14.00
Courvoisier VS Cognac, Appleton Estate Reserve Blend Rum, Disaronno Originale, Apricot, Honey, Lemon, Soda Water
Unlike many Disney poolside cocktails which are one-note or two-note, this here is a complex and thoughtful melding of flavor. There’s a story behind this cocktail, and it’s concocted through a special recipe that the manager of Bar Riva came up with. The apricot and honey here make the cognac rum and amaretto smooth and well rounded, despite the strong hit of alcohol. Trust us, you will only need one of these to get your day (or night) started off right. Do note that due to the complex flavors of the cocktail, if you usually order piña coladas or daiquiris, you’re probably better off sticking to those, unless you’re feeling adventurous, that is.
Moving on to the food, we were pleasantly surprised with Bar Riva’s “bar food.” In fact, we use the term bar food in quotes because many of these dishes rival offerings from top restaurants across Disney Parks worldwide, featuring high-quality, fresh ingredients like brie cheese and rainbow carrots.
Grilled Chicken Wings – $13.99
Roasted Garlic and Lemon-Herb Butter Sauce
When we ordered these, the waiter made a point to say that these wings “tasted like summer.” When he said that, we didn’t know what he meant, but the moment we took a bite, it all made sense. As you’ll come to read, these wings are exclusive to this location and exceedingly appropriate as poolside eats.
These wings are not fried, and actually grilled, giving them a fresh taste that won’t make you feel gross after eating them. There’s only so much you can do with wings, but these are seasoned perfectly with the lemon-herb butter sauce giving them a fantastic flavor.
You will have to put some work into eating these, as they’re full wings you have to rip apart, but there’s lots of meat on them, making this the perfect serving size. While wings are a bar staple wherever you go, these really feel like something you’d grill up at home poolside, the ideal summertime food. Something about grilled chicken wings after a day at the pool just feels right and these really hit the spot.
Baked Brie in Puff Pastry – $10.99
Fruit Preserves and Grilled Sourdough
If you’re a brie cheese fan, this dish is c’est tres delicieux! While it’s a bit weird that this bread-encased baked cheese came with additional crispy bread, it was good to spread on for a carb-on-carb cheesy overload.
While the strawberry preserves were good and tasted homemade, it felt repetitive since the same jam accompanies other items on the menu.
Compared to other dishes we had here (which were phenomenal), this doesn’t sit high on the recommended list unless you’re a cheese fan, specifically a brie fan.
Monte Cristo – $12.49
Ham, Turkey, Gruyere, Brioche, Strawberry Preserves
Simply put, this Monte Cristo puts Disneyland’s to shame. Not only is it considerably cheaper, we’d go as far as to say it’s the best value counter service dish on Walt Disney World property. It’s a giant serving, too. Two people can share this and both be full from it.
As far as the structure of the sandwich, it’s interesting because they don’t just include berry dipping sauce as an accompaniment, but there’s also a thin layer of jam between the meat and fried bread, making it all very flavorful.
The tomato soup it comes with is the same that’s served at Primo Piatto, and it’s truly excellent. It’s well-seasoned, very flavorful, and pairs well with a lot of the sandwiches, like the Croque Monsieur next door, but especially the Monte Cristo at Bar Riva. We’ll be coming back to Disney’s Rivera Resort many times this winter just to enjoy this soup.
Overall, this is a big fried sandwich that’s easy to share, a great value, and delicious. If you try anything here at Disney’s Riviera Resort, make it this… and the tomato soup. They’re likely going to raise the price on this sandwich in the coming weeks, so enjoy it while it’s still a steal at under $13.
After your meal, your check is brought to you inside of a themed booklet. The restaurant currently only takes Annual Passholder and Disney Vacation Club discounts, so you can’t apply a Tables in Wonderland discount towards alcohol, but it’s a great location to check out regardless, and one that won’t break the bank.
Bar Riva is open daily from 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM at Disney’s Riviera Resort.