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PALIO at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel
by Kevin Klose

Swan & Dolphin Disneyland is celebrating its golden anniversary this year. In honor of that, the Disney Company is holding a global celebration beginning on May 5 th, 2005. Disneyland’s actual anniversary isn’t until July 17th. If you are wondering why the party begins on May 5th, think about this…….if you write it a different way, it’s 05/05/05…and backwards…..it’s 50/50/50. This celebration is named The Happiest Celebration on Earth.

You are probably wondering what this has to do with the Italian restaurant, Palio located inside the Walt Disney World Swan Resort. Be patient….it will make sense soon.

Beginning on Tuesday, May 4th and lasting two days, Walt Disney World is throwing a BIG party for the press in order to show off all of the new attractions and changes that have been made. This party is by invitation only and luckily, you get to be there…..well sort of….

There are several of us who will do everything we can to bring you information, pictures, video, reviews and such as soon as we possibly can. In order to accomplish this, we had to have a base of operation. The requirements for this home base were that we must be conveniently located, we had to have several rooms and we needed them during a VERY busy time. The Walt Disney World Swan came through with flying colors. It’s within walking distance to Epcot, we can easily grab a Friendship boat to MGM Studios and there is transportation to the Magic Kingdom. Perfect for covering the entire press event.

After checking in on May 3 rd, we had a meeting to discuss the logistics of covering all segments of this huge event. We are all primed and ready to rock and roll. (Catch up on all the festivities on the DIS) After our meeting, we were all very hungry and looking for a place to have dinner. It was decided that everyone liked Italian food and what could be easier…..ta daaaaa…..eat in the hotel. It was a unanimous decision, we were off to Palio.

DiningPalio is a large, gracious restaurant just off the lobby of the Walt Disney World Swan. The restaurant derives its name from the cloth draped over the winner of an enormous horse race held in medieval Italy. The large dining rooms are decorated with cloth banners reminiscent of horse racing silks. These patterns are carried out in the table linens and china patterns.

 

Palio’s main menu is divided into six categories. They are Antipasti, Insalate e Minestrone, Pizza, Pasta, Pesce and Specialita Del Palio. Each of the category names and the names of each dish are in Italian, but there is a description of each dish in English as well.

There were seven of us for dinner and we were hungry. Several of us had recently attended an event held in Orlando named the Bacchus Bash. It’s an annual event where many of the local restaurants, hotels and resorts set up booths and for a very small amount of money offer tastes of their best dishes. The dish that everyone remembered from the event was offered by Palio, who also went on to win the prize for best dish.

The item in question is an appetizer with the cumbersome name Fiocchi Al Gorgonzola In Salsa Di Spinaci. or pasta stuffed with Gorgonzola in a garlic, spinach cream sauce. Three out of seven ordered this as their appetizer and were hesitant to share with the poor fools who didn’t. This dish is sinfully rich and decadently delicious. It’s really heaven in a bowl. There were also two orders of Bruschetta MIsta or garlic toast with fresh tomatoes, Toggiasco Olives, mushrooms, melted asiago cheese, fire roasted peppers and Italian herbs. This was also wonderful, but because I wasn’t sharing my Fiocchi, I had just a bite.

As for our dinner entrees, several of us had the chicken stuffed with prosciutto and parmesan cheese in Pinot Grigio sauce, there was an order of fettuccini with sundried tomatoes and broccolini in a parmesan cream sauce, another one had veal scaloppini with Marsala sauce and sage gnocchi and two had the special of the day, which was a seafood risotto with mussels.

Each member of the party had nothing but wonderful things to say about their respective entrees and those lucky enough to get a taste of someone else’s….well, they raved about them as well. Our dinners came with a wonderful selection of breads and a olive oil/ herbs dipping sauce.

I must also mention the wait staff at Palio. Our group was the epitome of professionalism. They anticipated our every need and graciously filled every request.

In addition, there was a very nice gentleman wandering the restaurant playing requests on his mandolin. As in every group, there is one wise guy. Ours requested Inna Godda Davida, a rock song from the 60’s. Without blinking an eye, the gentleman played the obscure request and was greeted by a huge round of applause from our table. He seemed very pleased with himself, and as well he should be.

As this was a continuation of a business function, there was no alcohol ordered, just a few soft drinks and some bottled water.

Palio is a wonderful place for a relaxing dinner. As in any resort location, prices are on the steep side so go and take your time. You can’t help but enjoy yourself in this wonderful restaurant smack in the middle of the Happiest Celebration on Earth.

 

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