REVIEW: Is Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano at Hollywood Studios Really That Bad?

The team and I recently visited Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I had never heard wonderful things from people regarding the food. Now I can tell those people they are wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed the meal and the atmosphere of the restaurant. It’s not the most perfect place on earth, but it’s great for anyone who wants a simple meal and fantastic for picky eaters.


The interior of the dining location felt cozy and as if I had just been invited into someone’s home. I loved the decor, especially the Christmas lights hanging from the wood panels. If you have time after your meal, I highly recommend walking around the restaurant and looking at all the decor on the walls. Anyway, enough of that. Let’s get into the food!

Allergy friendly Menu


Before we got our appetizers, our fantastic server brought us bread with olive oil and Italian seasoning. I love when there’s bread service at a restaurant, so this made me very happy. The bread was very good, giving me high hopes for the rest of the meal.

The minute I was handed the allergy-friendly menu and saw that the Crispy Calamari was free from dairy, I knew that was what I would order. This appetizer costs $15. I don’t regret it one bit. My biggest worry was that it would be chewy and rubbery, but thankfully that wasn’t the case. The dish was cooked to perfection. They fried them perfectly. We could tell because there wasn’t any extra grease, making this a pleasant appetizer. I was also impressed with how well it was seasoned. The dish came with a dipping sauce and I didn’t even need to use the dipping sauce.

Panda ordered the House-made Italian Meatball with Marinara, Fresh Ricotta, and Basil. This dish costs $13. He thought the dish tasted excellent overall but was firmer than he expected it to be. But he was comparing it to what he makes from scratch at home. He did share it with Craig, and they both agreed that the marinara sauce was delicious, which is great for them because they use it on everything in the restaurant. As you guessed, this is an excellent dish to share.

Craig got the Fried Fresh Mozzarella served with Marinara, Ricotta Salata, and Lemon Oil. This elevated take on mozzarella sticks costs $11. Craig enjoyed it but wished the cheese was more melted, but the way this was cooked, you could tell the mozzarella was fresh. It’s a great basic dish for those that want to enjoy this classic food item but on a different level.


For my entree, I ordered the Polenta Cake, Mushroom, and Herb Cauliflower, the plant-based option on the menu. This dish consists of Polenta layered with Sautéed Mushroom, Spinach, and Red Pepper with a Cashew-Cheese Sauce, costing $23. I thought the food was plated beautifully, and they looked like they really thought about this item.

It reminded me of what I had at Citricos because of how it was presented. The cashew-cheese sauce was phenomenal. I prefer dairy-free cheese made from cashew because the flavor is richer than others. The vegetables tasted fresh, and the polenta cake was out of this world. The texture reminded me of cornbread, and maybe that’s why I loved it so much.

Panda ordered a classic, the Oven-baked Chicken alla Parmigiana. This food item comes with Breaded Chicken Breast with Marinara Sauce topped with Melted Mozzarella over Spaghetti and costs $27. His biggest complaint was that the chicken was too thick, and Craig agreed with him. Overall he said that it was okay, but it wasn’t anything special and that it wasn’t horrible.

Craig ordered the Lasagna, which wasn’t listed on the menu. The Lasagna is 16oz of delicious red sauce, meat, and mushrooms. I felt like I blinked once, and the dish was done when I opened my eyes. That’s how fast it disappeared. Panda tried a piece of it and said he enjoyed it and that the flavors mix well. They both stated that the different cheeses were noticeable, making the dish even better.


That’s right, folks, we did a full three-course meal in an Italian restaurant at a theme park. I took a full lap around the park afterward.

For dessert, I ordered the Cherry-Chocolate Cake which is a Plant-based Chocolate Cake with a Morello Cherry-Pomegranate-Molasses Sauce and costs $8.50. I have tried a handful of plant-based cakes and most of them have weird textures and tend to be dry. Not this cake. The texture was perfect and the cake was thick but not dry. I loved the contrast that the cherries added to this chocolate-heavy dish.

Panda ordered the Mini Cannoli Trio which comes with Orange Cream, Caramel-Butterscotch, and Traditional Cannoli with Chocolate Chips garnished with Chocolate Sauce and Powdered Sugar. The trio cost $10. He wasn’t blown away by this dessert but he did love the dessert that Craig ordered.

Craig got the Tiramisú which is Layers of Mascarpone and Espresso-soaked Lady Fingers topped with Cocoa Powder and Whipped Cream and cost $8. It’s important to note that this dessert is made with alcohol, Kahlua to be exact. This information is not marked on the menu so just be aware when ordering this. From the look on Craig and Panda’s faces, this was the best dessert at the table. It was also the prettiest one too.

Photos of the Interior

Watch our full review here!

Hi, I'm Erica, and I write about all things Disney. Before working for The DIS, I was a theme park performer at SeaWorld, but I also performed at Disney. I have such an immense love for theme parks to the point I studied them in college.


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