I was at Disney World this time with my parents and my mom had no desire to go into a theme park and since she didn’t it seemed ridiculous to spend all that money to get her a park ticket just so we could go into Epcot and eat. Initially, I was peeved and upset by this but since we were staying at the BoardWalk it seemed we had a lot of dining options that didn’t require getting my parents on and off multiple methods of transportation just to eat somewhere.
In all the times I’ve been to Walt Disney World, I’ve never eaten in the Swan or Dolphin hotels. In fact, it wasn’t until my January trip that I spent any time at all in them. Coming back from races, it was easier to get off at the Swan and walk to the BoardWalk than take the bus all the way around to five hotels so I walked through the lobbies.
And honestly, as a cost saving measure, I would totally stay at those hotels.
So when my mom was reticent to go back to Beaches and Cream or the Captain’s Grille on our second night in Disney, I suggested Il Mulino as an option. And she loved it so much we ate there three nights in a row.
I would say Il Mulino is comparable to Via Napoli but a lot more pleasant and if I were picking between the two I would suggest the former over the latter for a couple of reasons:
1. The service is infinitely better at Il Mulino. The waiters are really attentive, you don’t have the sense that your food got lost and my entree never appeared with my appetizer still at the table.
2. The overall atmosphere is much more conducive to having a relaxed meal than Via Napoli. I don’t know who designed that restaurant and thought it would be a good idea, but you can’t hear a damn thing in that restaurant unless you’re the only person in there and you never will be because of the high ceilings and tiled floors. We took my mom and she hated it.
3. No park admission required. If you don’t want to spend extra money on a park hopper pass or waste admission on a day when you plan on spending most of it by the pool anyway, I love hotel restaurants for this reason.
4. No reservation required. Now that Disney has their cancellation penalty ($10/person if you cancel within 24 hours of your reservation) I don’t make reservations anymore and if I can’t get in, I can’t get in so I appreciate that each of the 3 times we went to Il Mulino we were seated almost immediately without a reservation.
Having said all of this, I should add at this point that the food was delicious. They started us out with this sample dish that had one of my favorite things in the world, caponatina, and slices of salami. We asked for a second dish and they happily obliged and we didn’t even have to beg for subpar bread like we did at Via Napoli! I’d already started eating it. For those of you that don’t know, caponatina is an eggplant dish with tomatoes, big chunks of garlic, onion… oh it’s delicious and I loved every last bite.
We got seconds. We got thirds. Loved. It.
I also ordered the caesar salad, which was good, but the show stopper was the mushroom risotto which I loved. I love mushroom risotto so I was excited to see it on the menu and ordered it each night. I wouldn’t get it before a race because of the truffle oil and how heavy it is, but the pizza looked delicious so I’d be willing to go that route.
It was just so damn good. My mom got the gnocchi, which she said was delicious, and then she also got the parpadelle with a pink (cream/tomato) sauce with mushrooms and peas. They were really accommodating with modifications because my mother can’t ever just order anything off the menu the way it is, and everything came out perfectly. Also, the rice balls were very good.
So basically, this trip taught me that I’d be cool staying and dining at either hotel. I know there’s an Il Mulino in New York, but whatever I don’t live in the city anymore and there are a bunch of cheap places in the City I’d rather go eat.
Thoughts on the Swan and Dolphin? Ever eat or stay there?