*This gluten free dining experience took place in September 2020. It includes information about dairy free options, as well as fish/shellfish, peanut, hazelnut, cabbage, and chicken & turkey allergies.
Dinner at Trattoria al Forno
Trattoria al Forno, located at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort, reopened in July 2020 after the Disney Parks & Resorts closed temporarily. We had a chance to stop by the restaurant for a late evening dinner in September. This was the first time Brandon had eaten at the restaurant and the first time I had been there in several years, so we were looking forward to trying out the food and seeing how the restaurant was for social distancing.
COVID-19 & Reopening Notes
On this particular visit, we made reservations for the restaurant a few days before we dined there. I used the My Disney Experience app and found that there was a late evening seating, which we decided to book (the restaurant closed at 10 p.m.). The app worked as it normally does, and we were able to add in our special dietary needs in the app and alert cast members of our needs when we arrived at the restaurant. We also utilized online restaurant check-in when we arrived at Trattoria al Forno. Online check-in includes using your My Disney Experience app to check-in yourself. It’s super easy, and I hope Disney keeps this going forward too.
The Boardwalk Resort itself featured many mechanisms to provide sanitization, social distancing, and safety for both guests and cast members. All cast members wore facial masks and some cast members also wore protective shields, as well. All servers in the restaurant wore both facial masks and protective shields. In addition, there were many portable hand sanitizer stations for guests to use. We also saw cast members regularly cleaning surfaces and restrooms throughout our visit.
As a note, at the time of writing this review, we have been to several of the Disney Resorts, including the Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort, Contemporary Resort, Grand Floridian Resort, Old Key West Resort, Polynesian Village Resort, and Riviera Resort. All locations have the same protocols, as far as we have observed. Be sure to check with restaurants and the official Disney World website for additional information about current guidelines and recommendations.
Trattoria al Forno is inspired by the different regions of Italy. The restaurant building itself has changed a lot over the years — as it used to Spoodles, Kouzzina (a former favorite of mine), and now Trattoria al Forno. The actual restaurant itself has been retrofitted over the years. And, it currently reflects the modern Italian theme.
You’ll find bright pops of color, including lots of reds and greens, alongside dark wooden beams, tables, and seating.
When you walk into the restaurant’s lobby area, you’ll be greeted by cozy chairs, family photos, and a walled up fireplace.
You’ll find the same theming and decor inside the restaurant’s seating area. The kitchen is also open to guests, so you can see food being prepared on stage while you enjoy your meal.
One thing that we noticed on this visit (and that we showed and discussed in our YouTube review) is that social distancing seating seemed a bit problematic at the restaurant — at least from our perspective. If you have seating preferences, be sure to let a host/hostess know so that you can ensure you are comfortable during your meal.
Like most restaurants at Disney World, Trattoria al Forno does offer an allergy-friendly menu. You can also, at any time, speak directly with a chef (which we recommend) if you have questions or wish to discuss options or modifications for your special dietary needs.
On this visit, we did not speak directly to a chef, but our server helped ensure that we had safe options and spoke to the chef, as well as ensured all of our special dietary needs were on our orders. We ordered more or less directly from the allergy-friendly menu.
Each meal includes a complimentary bread service. I was served Bloomfield Farms rolls, which are gluten free and dairy free. This dish also came with a gluten free and dairy free olive tapenade with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The tapenade had a great sweet and salty punch to it and was an excellent accompaniment to the bread.
Brandon was served the regular bread and had his own dish of olive tapenade.
Initially, Brandon and I had inquired about ordering the charcuterie plate, but our server spoke with the chef who said that it had too many ingredients that contained both gluten and nuts that he would not recommend it for us to eat.
However, we were pleasantly surprised when our server brought out a giant plate of prosciutto and house-made mozzarella cheese with herbs and balsamic vinegar for us to split. It was extremely kind of them to modify an appetizer for us so that we could enjoy it safely. This was made safe for gluten/wheat, fish/shellfish, peanuts/tree nuts, chicken/turkey, and cabbage.
To avoid any concerns of cross-contamination since Brandon had already eaten some gluten-filled bread, we split this appetizer up onto separate plates.
Both of us were extremely impressed with the quality of the meat and cheese in this appetizer. The prosciutto was extremely good, and we both loved the mozzarella with the accompaniments on top of it. Of course, if you’re dairy free, this would not be a good option, but if you are gluten free and can have dairy, both Brandon and I highly recommend it.
I debated for a bit over what to get for my entree. Ultimately, I decided to order two appetizers because my friend Alexis from Alexis’s Gluten Free Adventures always raves about the gluten free calamari, and I definitely wanted to try it.
I opted to get order Insalata di Stagione, a seasonal salad that is made with house-made ricotta and vinaigrette. It was marked safe for Gluten/Wheat, Egg, Fish/Shellfish, and Soy Allergies.
I have to admit that when presented to me, it was not at all what I had expected the salad to be. The salad included a grilled head of romaine, a side of additional greens, and quite a few deconstructed elements. The flavors were nice, and I really loved the pecan crumble that came with the salad, but it’s probably not a dish I’d order again.
For my second appetizer, of course, it had to be the Calamari Fritti with Crispy Pepperoncini, Balsamic Agrodolce, and Meyer Lemon Aioli. This dish was marked safe for Gluten/Wheat, Peanut/Tree Nut, and Soy Allergies.
Overall, I really liked this dish but didn’t love it. I found all of the sauces and the fried pepperoncini to be excellent, but the calamari itself was almost a bit soggy. It wasn’t terrible by any means, but it would have been nice for the calamari to be a bit crispier. I would try this again just to see if my dish was just a fluke, as others have raved about it so much.
As an aside, if you dine at Trattoria al Forno, they use gluten free breading for all of the fried items at the restaurant. This means that items like chicken parmesan are actually gluten free with a side of GF pasta. I will definitely have to try some other breaded and fried dishes the next we go to Trattoria al Forno.
For Brandon’s entree, he ordered the Oak-Grilled Strip Steak with Fire-roasted Potatoes, Seasonal Vegetable, and Roasted Pepper Sauce. This was marked safe for Gluten/Wheat, Egg, Fish/Shellfish, Peanut/Tree Nut, and Soy Allergies and was also made safe for Brandon’s chicken & turkey and cabbage allergies.
Overall, Brandon said he really liked this entree. The serving was very sizeable, so this is a good option if you’re a steak lover and are really hungry! Brandon also got the roasted red pepper sauce on the side, and while he’s not a big sauce person, he actually loved this sauce. That’s a great pro tip for dining. If you’re not sure if you’ll like a sauce, order it on the side! Brandon said that he’d definitely order this steak again.
If you want to get more information about our visit to Trattoria al Forno, we did film our visit and shared it on our YouTube channel. There we talk a bit more about social distancing and general safety related to COVID-19.
Our restaurant experience at Trattoria al Forno was a bit mixed. We both loved the bread service, appetizers, and Brandon really enjoyed his entree. I liked mine but would definitely get something different the next time we dine there. We also felt the social distancing seating wasn’t something we felt as comfortable with during our visit, so we might wait to dine at Trattoria al Forno for a while. The resort area is quite busy, so the restaurant was one of the busiest we’ve dined at since Disney re-opened. While our experience was a bit mixed, we look forward to trying out the restaurant again in the future.
Have you been to Trattoria al Forno? What was your experience when you dined there?