Welcome to our next edition of “Around WDW”! Today we’re going to continue our “stroll” around Magic Kingdom as we visit our first place to eat, Tony’s Town Square Restaurant! Now please remember, the order in which we write entries in this series is NOT a ranking, but we try to move along as you would physically encounter these locations in the parks. Therefore, Tony’s is not necessarily our “#1” place to eat (it may or may not be), but rather, it is literally the first location to grab a bite to eat upon entering Magic Kingdom.
Tony’s Town Square is located almost immediately upon passing under the train station to the right-hand side in the “Main St. Town Square Theater building.” Upon entering the main entrance of this building, you’ll be met with the waiting lobby to the restaurant on your left. Here you will find a few couches and chairs to relax in while you wait for your party to be called, a tv playing Disney classics (and very often the film that this location is based on), and the restrooms for the restaurant. Head up to the podium to give your name and as is the case with most sit-down dining locations in WDW nowadays - BE SURE TO HAVE A RESERVATION BEFORE SHOWING UP! Occasionally they might be able to accept walk-ups but that’s becoming harder to get each day - not so much because the location is so popular, but really because EVERY restaurant is like this.
Before we go into the restaurant, let’s talk a little about the location’s history. Originally opened in 1971 (with the park), the restaurant went by the name The Town Square Cafe and was actually a more open-aired courtyard/patio of sorts. This spot was originally sponsored by Oscar Meyer and served traditional theme park food (think hotdogs and fries). The 10-year sponsorship was not renewed and Disney found a new partner with Hormel adding more typical BBQ fare to the menu. It wasn’t until this second sponsorship ended in the late ’80s that Disney changed the restaurant (drastically). It becomes an enclosed eatery, changes its name to Tony’s Town Square Restaurant, AND….gets its new menu/theme!
If you don’t know what this new theme is already (from the name), once your name is called by the host and you enter the main entrance of the actual restaurant, you will. First, the smell of tomato sauce and garlic should let you know you’re in an Italian eatery. Second, the large fountain in the center of the room featuring two beloved Disney canines will emphasize exactly where you are about to eat…the one and only Tony’s Restaurant from the animated classic, Lady and the Tramp! (yes the very place Lady and Tramp shared their famous spaghetti kiss, but don’t worry you won’t have to sit in the back alley to enjoy your meal). While there are nods to the film (and a large fountain to boot) around the restaurant, it is not overly done. Instead, Imagineers wanted to create the feeling of being in a classic, family-owned Italian restaurant. As you wait (or even when you’re inside the restaurant) be sure to check out the artwork on the walls by Don “Ducky” Williams, the famed Disney animator.
(photo cred: kingdom cuisine)
Now that we know a little about the history of this location and its influential theme, let’s talk about what we’re really here for…the food! Tony’s is a sit-down restaurant (the traditional make a reservation, sit a table, and a server brings you your food type of place) as opposed to a quick-service location. If you’re planning on eating at Tony’s just remember it takes up some time and comes with a larger price tag than grabbing a hot dog and fries from a counter. And again, we want to stress the importance of making advanced reservations for Tony’s, just like EVERY OTHER sit-down restaurant in one of the Disney parks. As for the food, the menu has been designed to emulate a traditional Italian-style trattoria.
The current menu (which can change over time as Disney tends to do with their dining locations) is filled with recognizable Italian appetizers, entrees, and desserts. Although when you look up the menu online it gives you the option for the “lunch” or “dinner” menu they are the same. Starters (called Antipasti on the menu) include some typical Italian-American staples like fried mozzarella and Caesar salad, as well as, some different choices such as: Five Alarm Wings and Spinach Dip. Antipasti offerings average about $14 each (aside from the $9 soup of the day). For your Entree selections (or Secondi Piatti) you again find a selection of expected Italian-American dishes. Pastas like: Ravioli, Fettuccine Alfredo, and of course Spaghetti (it wouldn’t be a Lady and the Tramp-themed restaurant without it) are available. Other dishes such as Roman-style steak, grilled pork chop, seasonal fish, scampi (seafood) pasta, pizza, and of course chicken parm round out the entree choices. If you’re having a hard time deciding just what to try, don’t worry, ole Tony’s got your back with the Italian Trio which includes chicken parm, fettuccine alfredo, and spaghetti with meatball! Entrees here start around $20 and go up to $36 for the Roman-style steak.
(the Italian Trio - photo credit chaotically yours)
To round out your dining experience (and since we all know calories don’t count in WDW) Tony’s will tempt your sweet tooth with 4 dessert options. Ricotta doughnuts, Tiramisu, Italian strawberry shortcake, and gelato are currently available to finish off your meal and range from $7-$9 each. For the little ones, a Kid’s Meal menu is available just like all other dining locations around the park. Grilled chicken and potatoes, spaghetti and meatballs, pizza, and mac n cheese are there for even the pickiest eater and come with your selection of 2 sides. A kids meal will run you $10-$11. Tony’s is also now offering adult beverage options (wine and beer only) to go along with your traditional non-alcohol ones like sodas and coffees. For those members of our Ohana with food allergies, fear not, Tony offers allergy-friendly options, and just like with all other dining spots around WDW, you can always speak with your server and chef to ensure they know what you need.
To wrap up, we’ll offer our humble opinion on Tony’s Town Square Restaurant. First, we’ll say coming from New Jersey and growing up in a traditional Italian-American family (Matt), we tend to be a little harsher when it comes to our Italian food. Every good Italian will tell you their nonna’s (grandmother’s) food is the best (Grandma if you’re reading this it really is!). Also, it has been a couple of years since we’ve visited Tony’s as we prefer to eat at some of the other Italian options around property. We will say that the food here isn’t bad, but rather just kind of plain and underwhelming (think Olive Garden). The menu offers a variety of typical Italian dishes you’d find at many local pizza places rather than what you’d actually find at a fine dining experience in New York/Jersey or even more so in Italy. It’s made in a kitchen trying to pump food out as quickly as it can to serve as many waiting guests as possible and the quality can suffer a little because of that. If you’re looking for just a faster Italian dish while you’re visiting Magic Kingdom instead of grabbing a counter-service hamburger, then Tony’s will hit the spot. But if you’re looking for “GOOD” Italian food, this might not be the place for you, especially with some of the other options in WDW (like Via Napoli or Il Mulino’s) a short drive away.
We will say though, that heading to Tony’s, ordering the spaghetti, and recreating the famous scene from Lady and the Tramp is a cute, fun experience and is a photo that most Disney fans should have in their collection. While Tony’s might not be the best Italian food in Disney World, the location, theme, price point, and overall menu options make it an ok place to stop in during your park visit if you don’t like the other options at other MK locations. Thanks for reading along and as always we want to hear from YOU! Head over to our Facebook page and IG account to let us know what YOU think about Tony’s!
See Ya Real Soon,
Matt, Krystle, and Lincoln - Married to a Disney Addict