Eat This (Maybe): Italy’s Primavera Kitchen at Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival

Let’s start this review with some stark honesty:

Confession 1: True to my family heritage, I love Italian food – but I almost always skip Italy at the festivals because the last thing I want in the Florida sun is pasta and fried shrimp.

Confession 2: I ate this full slate awhile ago but was holding off on the review because I didn’t want to open reviews of my favorite festival of the year with a buzz kill.

All of this being said, let’s tear the bandaid off and get this done.

Italy’s Primavera Kitchen at Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival is, of course, located just across the promenade outside the Italy pavilion. While it usually takes me awhile to get to Italy’s festival booth, I was with some dear friends with food restrictions that limited options – so we hit Primavera Kitchen to get the allergy-friendly frittata that they offered and knocked out the rest of the menu at the same time.

So, for starters, I love the Bulls and miss them already and thank them for letting me hang and eat my face off with them after Princess race weekend.

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Italy Primavera Kitchen Photopass

But if you’re reading this for nothing but the food review you’re probably getting annoyed at this point. So I’ll save you further scrolling and get to it.

Italy offers three savory dishes and one sweet, along with a variety of wines, sparkling options, and an Italian margarita that I still need to get my hands on.

  • Frittata di Asparagi: Asparagus Frittata, Mixed Greens, and Citrus Dressing ($7) (vegetarian) (gluten free)

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Italy Primavera Kitchen Frittata di Asparagi

I confess that I don’t know the ingredients in this. But as far as I can tell, it’s eggs with asparagus in them with some lightly dressed greens on top. If you really, really want to pay $7 for a small amount of scrambled eggs, I highly recommend this. Otherwise, not so much. Let’s move on.

  • Fritto Misto: Crispy Shrimp, Zucchini, and Spicy Sauces ($8)

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Italy Primavera Kitchen Fritto Misto

This was pretty bland. Small-ish fried shrimp and zucchini with lots of breading and a generous drizzle of the aptly named “spicy sauces”. It made me feel like I was eating actual calories in Disney World, which is not acceptable. Even if I liked it, I wouldn’t want to eat it in the hot sun…. If this picture makes you want to lick the screen, knock yourself out. Otherwise there are better places to spend your calories and money and then you can just get some firecracker shrimp at P.F. Changs after your trip.

  • Ravioli: Maine Lobster Ravioli with Vodka Sauce ($12)

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Italy Primavera Kitchen Ravioli

These are quite tasty, as they should be for $12. (Yes, that’s $6 per ravioli….) They are nicely cooked and filled with lobster and topped with these funny little things that can only be described as lox-flavored boba balls. (If you don’t like the taste of smoked salmon, do NOT eat the balls.) I don’t really have any complaints here except that they were nothing extraordinary and they cost a fortune. If you’re craving ravioli, they will do the trick.

  • Panna Cotta al Melone: Cantaloupe Panna Cotta ($5.50) (vegetarian) (gluten free)

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Italy Primavera Kitchen Panna Cotta al Melone

This was absolutely lovely. A soft, melon panna cotta with a pretty little square of white chocolate and a fresh raspberry. If you, like many, are aiming to sample at least one food item from each festival booth, the panna cotta should probably be your choice at Primavera Kitchen. It was refreshing and smooth and not overly sweet at all. A perfect dessert for a warm Florida afternoon.

  • Chianti ($8) and Prosecco ($9)

These are lovely. And help to wash down the bitter resentment of eating a $6 ravioli. Enjoy!

Eat This: Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival – Italy Booth

It’s rare that the weather is cool enough during Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival for me to even think about Italian food, but the cloud cover yesterday offered up the unique Florida afternoon pasta craving. I jumped on the chance to see what Italy had to offer this year.

Italy Booth Menu Epcot Food & Wine 2017

  • Crispy Calamari with Spicy Pomodoro Sauce ($8)

Italy Booth Food & Wine Calamari

I so wanted to love this. I adore a good calamari and a sauce with a kick. The calamari itself was prettily presented and cooked perfectly, but at least this particular batch was much too salty. That actually seems to be a theme at Food & Wine this year. It’s rare that I don’t like a dish but when it happens it’s often the salt content that does it. If you’re craving calamari I certainly wouldn’t turn away from this, but it wasn’t a favorite – especially considering the $8 price tag.

  • Spezzatino con Polenta: Beef Stew with Parmesan Creamy Polenta ($7.50)

Italy Booth Food & Wine Spezzatino con Polenta

This. was. delicious. A rich beef stew with lots of sauce nestled in with a healthy serving a creamy, cheesy polenta. The stew was hearty and the polenta with parmesan was everything that a good polenta should be – the consistency of smooth mashed potatoes that cut the richness of the stew perfectly. Admittedly not something that would call my name on a typical hot day, but if the weather is right again I would happily go back for more.

  • Absolut Penne: Vodka Sauce with Shrimp ($7)

Italy Booth Food & Wine Absolut Penne

Yes. Yes. Yes. Eat this. The pasta is cooked perfectly. The shrimp are generous. The sauce is light and has a perfect little kick to it. Sometimes it doesn’t have to be out there inventive to be good. And when you’re trying to represent a country with a dish, sometimes it pays to keep it simple and good. Japan’s BLT sushi roll could learn a lesson from Italy this year. The spezzatino was excellent, but this penne was easily my favorite dish at the Italy booth.

  • Cannoli al Cioccolato: Chocolate-covered Cannoli filled with Sweet Ricotta, Chocolate, and Candied Fruit ($4.25)

Italy Booth Food & Wine Cannoli al Cioccolato

The candied fruit element in this delicious piece of heaven didn’t click until I typed out the description just now. I’d forgotten about it while I was inhaling the cannoli itself – knowing only that I was eating something incredibly sweet and good that had a little kick of interesting going on in it somewhere. It’s a sort of cannoli that has a fruitcake somewhere in its family tree several generations back. In a good way. The shell is also very substantial – it manages to tame the chocolate and ricotta fairly well so that the overall taste isn’t “too much” the way that some cannolis are. There are a handful of desserts at F&W that I’ve personally liked more this year – the crème brûlée in France, the cheesecake in Hawaii, the cajeta mousse in Mexico… But at that point it just comes down to personal taste. If you want a cannoli, this is a very, very good one.