REVIEW: ‘Fantasmic!’ Dining Package at Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano

“Fantasmic!” dining packages are now available at five restaurants in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and we’re in search of the best bang for your buck. So this time, we booked a package at Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano to try it out!

Interior

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Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano is themed as an Italian restaurant you would find in Southern California. Think Buca di Beppo vibes.

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As such, there are lots of Californian touches to the Italian decorations, such as street signs.

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There’s even a Dodgers vs. Yankees pennant and graffiti.

“Fantasmic!” Dining Package at Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano – $54 for Adults, $22 for Kids

Bread Service

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Although they aren’t nicely browned like we expected, the rolls are warm, soft, and delicious. The olive oil accompaniment is very herby and lightly salted. We enjoyed this as a simple starter.

Appetizers

Fried Fresh Mozzarella – $11

with Marinara, Ricotta Salata, and Lemon Oil

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This is a basic fried mozzarella, not unlike your average mozzarella stick. There’s nothing special about it, and the portion size is smaller than expected. It’ll please the kids but there are better options.

Vine-ripened Tomatoes and Fresh Mozzarella – $12

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We didn’t have these today, but we reviewed these in the past at Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano. We’ve included our overall thoughts for every item we’ve reviewed so you can plan your Fantasmic! package visit, but click through the item name for the in-depth and video reviews.

Crispy Calamari – $15

Served with Spicy Pickles, Spicy Aïoli, and Fresh Lemon

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We expected these to be rubbery, but to our surprise, they were not. The seasoning is fine, although all in one bite, it’s slightly mushy. There’s not a ton of crispiness from the breading, and the sauce adds a mild kick. This is a large portion size, easily sharable between 2 or 3 people. These aren’t great; the mushiness is somewhat off-putting for a calamari dish.

House-made Italian Meatball – $13

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The meatball was surprisingly good. Twelve dollars is a lot; however, the tomato sauce was inoffensive (a shock for Disney-operated Italian), and the meatball itself would please any meat eater.

Mama’s Caesar Salad – $11

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It is lightly dressed, and there’s not an obnoxious amount of cheese — which is a nice change of pace. A fine choice.

Margherita Flatbread – $16

Mozzarella, House-made Marinara Sauce, Fresh Basil, and drizzled with Extra Virgin Olive Oil

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The crust wasn’t crispy despite being baked in a brick oven, and the sauce was bare. The basil adds a little sweetness, but there’s not much happening here. It’s a decent sharing size, but since you’re paying individually for the package, not even that makes it worth it. If the kids want an appetizer to share, this will fit the bill, but otherwise skip this.

Entrées

Charred Strip Steak – $36

Four-Cheese Macaroni with Pancetta, Aged Balsamic-Shallot Butter, and Chianti Wine Reduction (Contains Alcohol Product)

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The steak is not tough or chewy and has good flavor, and was cooked medium-rare as we requested, all of which is rather surprising for a non-steakhouse at WDW. The sauce on top almost ruins it though. The wine reduction is much too sweet for our liking, it mostly reminds us of a bad version of Lea & Perrins. we’d recommend asking for it on the side. It’s pretty hard to get an adult version of mac & cheese at Disney, but this four-cheese macaroni is creamy and delicious. We think it should be offered as an appetizer; it would beat most of the current ones.

Shrimp Campanelle – $31

Sautéed Shrimp and Campanelle Pasta tossed in a Four-Cheese Sauce with Cauliflower, Sun-dried Tomatoes, fresh Spinach, and Sweet Onions

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It tastes slightly off with an almost chemical aftertaste. We wouldn’t order this again under any circumstances.

Mama’s Italian Pasta – $23

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The crostini was the hardest thing we’ve ever eaten. The cherry tomatoes were ripe and well cooked, bursting with flavor, but they were the only redeeming part of this dish.

Mama’s Italian Pasta with Chicken – $26

Fettuccini tossed with Roasted Tomatoes and Garlic, Artichokes, Butter, and White Wine Sauce (Contains Alcohol Product)

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This is also flavorless. It’s a large portion size, but that’s the only thing going for it. The white wine sauce added nothing. This was one of our least favorite options.

Polenta Cake, Mushroom, and Herb Cauliflower – $23

Polenta layered with Sautéed Mushroom, Spinach, and Red Pepper with a Cashew-Cheese Sauce (Plant-based)

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This is definitely a more interesting dish. There’s really no flavor in the polenta, and it’s got the texture of very moist cornbread. The cashew flavor in the sauce is prevalent; it taste nothing like cheese although it looks like and has the consistency of an alfredo sauce. There are plenty of mushrooms, and we really liked them as they have some kick. The roasted cauliflower was great.

Spaghetti and Meatballs – $26

with House-made Marinara, garnished with Pecorino Romano Cheese and Parsley

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The same noodles and red sauce that are in the chicken parmesan are in this dish in a somewhat bigger portion. The four large meatballs were surprisingly good. We enjoyed this, and the pickiest eater in your party should too.

Oven-baked Chicken alla Parmigiana – $27

Breaded Chicken Breast with Marinara Sauce topped with Melted Mozzarella over Spaghetti

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While there is nothing special about this, the chicken is crispy, and the portion is filling.  There’s a good amount of sauce, and it has a decent flavor. The chicken isn’t as dry as we thought it would be, either. It’s a classic that they actually got right.

Desserts

Tiramisú – $8

Layers of Mascarpone and Espresso-soaked Lady Fingers topped with Cocoa Powder and Whipped Cream

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While this looks like a decent tiramisu, for some reason there’s so much chocolate in it that it’s overpowering. It could have been good, but the chocolate simply ruins it.

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The biscotti was tough, and it would’ve been nice to have some coffee with it. Otherwise, it was just a hard cookie.

Mini Cannoli Trio – $10

Orange Cream, Caramel-Butterscotch, and Traditional Cannoli with Chocolate Chips garnished with Chocolate Sauce and Powdered Sugar

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The cannoli shells are squishy instead of crispy, and the filling in all three is chalky, not smooth and creamy. The traditional chocolate chip cannoli was the best of the three, which is unfortunate. The orange has a slight zing, but it was hard for us to tell if the orange is coming from the cream or just the swirls of whatever is stuck to the ends. The caramel butterscotch was overly sweet. They should have picked either caramel or butterscotch and it likely would have been good, but the combination just doesn’t work. These are ok, but really nothing to write home about, and they’re not even good for sharing since there are three different flavors.

Fantasmic! Seating

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Your server will give you the vouchers used to enter the reserved seating sections. It will have your showtime and date on it.

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Seating opens 90 minutes before showtime, and you have to arrive at least 25 minutes beforehand, or they will start to seat other guests in the reserved area. We arrived 30 minutes before showtime and the two reserved sections were pretty full.

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The queue for dining package guests uses the old FastPass queue.

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There are Cast Members stationed with directional signage to ensure you get to the reserved area.

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The reserved areas are in the center, namely the Mickey and Scar sections. This is the view if your seat is in the center of the area.

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And this is a view if you are stage left in the reserved area.

Overall

We pretty much got what we expected. There’s nothing gourmet or special about Mama Melrose’s. The portion sizes are decent and great for sharing, so there was plenty of food to go around.

We thought the package was worth it for the view, especially if you go with some of the pricier items on the menu to get the full value. We recommend arriving about 45 minutes in advance of your showtime. You’ll still have to wait, but it will be while seated in the amphitheater rather than enduring standby. If you want Italian, or if it’s the only option available, it’s not terrible, but if you want a dining package with a good meal, we’d recommend one of the other restaurants.

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