I ask you, what better place to enjoy Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival then at the Italian Pavilion. As part of the festival you can pre-purchase a reservation at many great food and wine tastings. This review is about the Italian Food and Wine Pairing Luncheon event at the Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria, where the executive chef created southern Italian specialties paired with fine Italian wines. This event sold out quickly at $65.00 a head with 46 in attendance.
First we checked in with maître d’ outside the restaurant and entered into a special dining room attached to Via Napoli. We were seated by the serving staff at pre-assigned seats. My first impression was, “I think we are going to have a lot of wine to drink!”
What a nice setting. I think I’m getting hungry.
OK, I think I have enough glasses here!
Our handsome host, Gabriele, is explaining what to expect during the next two hours.
All the guests are settling in and making new friends.
Our culinary adventure map (otherwise known as the menu).
First up was this incredible Parmigiana alle Melanzane. It consists of baked Eggplant topped with Tomato sauce and Buffalo Mozzarella, with a sprig of Basil and a touch of Olive oil. I have to say I am not a big fan of Eggplant but this dish was a delight. It was just the right texture, not mushy like most Eggplant dishes. All the ingredients worked together nicely and was a great dish to start the luncheon. It was paired with NV Bosco del Merlo Prosecco Tappo Spago Frizzante D.O.C. from the Veneto region of Italy. I found it an excellent choice.
Next was Pizza Bicolore, a Neopolitian style, wood-fired pizza with Margarita on one half and Quattro Formaggi on the other half.
How can something this simple be so good? Paired with Paladin Pinot Grigio, also from Veneto, was a favorite of everyone at my table.
Now came the entree. Filetto di Sogliola alle Mandorle is an Almond coated fillet of Sole with steamed Spinach and baby Carrot. It was topped off with a cream sauce that had a touch of lemon. The fish was cooked to perfection and with its delicate corn flower and herb crust, was a delight to look at. It was paired with a 2009 Bosco del Merlo ‘Campo Camino’ Merlot Lison-Pramaggiore D.O.C. from the Veneto wine region in north-eastern Italy.
Our Italian Sommelier Gonzalo, shares his knowledge of Italian wines with his guests. Notice everyone at the table is talking with their hands. I wonder why?
It seems everyone is very happy with the chosen wine parings.
Now it’s time for our desert. This is called Zeppole al Limoncello. A Zeppole is a deep fried fritter, popular in Rome and Naples. This version has a Limoncello (Italian lemon liqueur) cream filling and topped with powered sugar. This was paired with 2009 ‘Soandre’ Verduzzo IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) from Bosco del Marlo wineries in the Venezie region of Italy.
This event was the highlight of my seven day trip to Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival. The food was much better than I expected, and the wines chosen were perfectly matched to each dish. I should also add that they didn’t skimp with the wine. Many of us had second helpings! I really appreciate the time taken to orchestrate this event and plan to return this October to enjoy more great food and wine from Italy!
Many thanks to Gabriele, Ludovica and Floriana. What a great team. Grazie!
If you would like to try these wines, drop us an e-mail at: Info@DisneybyMark.com and we will have Gonzalo give you a call!