There are a number of restaurants in Hollywood Studios which get much attention from Walt Disney World (WDW) guests. Some of this attention is due to their great menu, great theming, or great reviews, but, let's be honest: restaurant traffic has a lot to do with the restaurant being at the right place at the right time. Because I feel Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano too often goes unnoticed by WDW guests, I thought I'd spend some time discussing why you should give this restaurant a try.
Firstly, I don't think you'd find Mama Melrose's unless you were specifically looking for it, so let me start off by telling you where exactly it is! You will find it in the Muppet Courtyard, behind Star Tours and Muppet 3D. Its outdoor facade blends so well into the rest of the area, that, again, you probably won't even notice it unless you are scanning the brick walls for its sign. Even after reading about Mama Melrose's and knowing exactly where to look for it, my huband and I still walked right past it on our first visit.
Although finding the place may leave you a bit frustrated, once you walk in and smell the pizza cooking in the wood-burning oven, you will quickly return to your relaxed (and hungry!) state. As you're being led to your table, take in the ambiance for a minute. The Italian music playing on the stereo, the vines overhead, the big red booths, and the red and white checkered table cloths quickly re-assure you that you're in a fun, casual restaurant (the kind where you don't have to worry about other guests giving you dirty looks if your kids are too noisy!) with a quirky Californian-Italian theme.
Next is the important question: what to order? Flatbreads (pizza) seems to be the fan favorite at this restaurant - and with good reason! Cooked in the wood oven, I find my Four Cheese Flatbread delicious! My husband has the Spaghetti Fra Diavola (clams and mussels in a spicy marinara sauce) and loved both the quantity and quality of this dish. Needless to say we make return visits on each trip.
Something else that leaves us coming back is the friendliness and helpfulness of the staff with regard to children. As I said, this isn't the type of place where you have to be particularly worried about your children's behavior. Of course, I don't mean to let your children run wild, but you don't have to worry if there is some fussing here and there. My daughter was having a "difficult" (read: tantrum time!) dinner on one of our trips, and the waitstaff was particularly understanding (even after my daughter threw all her crayons on the ground!). We really appreciated the calmness of the staff during a stressful dinner.
Lastly, another bonus of this restaurant is that it is one of the restaurants available for the Fantasmic! Dinner Package. In other words, a package reservation made at this restaurant on a Fantasmic! night will get you tickets to sit in a special section of the theater.
Of course, as Matt mentions in the restaurant section of this site, the remote location of this restaurant means that you are likely able to walk up and be seated without a reservation in a decent amount of time. Hmmm, that makes me wonder if we should be keeping the secret of the Studios' hidden gem of a restaurant to ourselves, then? That's ok. I don't think you'll tell anyone.... ok, maybe two or three people is ok. ;-)
(Picture from www.wdwinfo.com)