Mama Melrose Ristorante Italiano Hollywood Studios Review
We review the Italian restaurant at Hollywood Studios, Mama Melrose Ristorante Italiano with the Fantastmic! dining package.
There are so many good restaurants at Walt Disney World now, there's simply no excuse to let any bad ones on your potential visit list. We have our staple restaurants which have always been fantastic and visit them most times we go, but we free up some nights to eat at new places, and also revisit places we've not been to in a while. Two of our previous staples, Planet Hollywood and Rainforest Cafe has seen their quality continue to deteriorate, so we've kicked them off our visit list entirely, which has made room to try even more new places.
This time we visited "Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano" at Hollywood Studios for the first time.
As we entered, we couldn't help but notice the strong smell of fish in the air. Whether or not a lot of people just happened to order the salmon that lunch time, if you do not care for the smell of fish, I would avoid this place.
Our server was English, and of course being English ourselves, we thought that would a nice talking point, but we got quite the cold shoulder from the offset. Either way, she took our drinks order and we were given a bread basket. The bread was very good, fresh, and even though I generally don't care for oil dipping, this oil wasn't particular strong so it worked well for me.
(The lighting was quite poor in there, so please forgive the poor image quality.)
We ordered a cocktail each (because it comes with the dining plan) and we had some water. I was quite thirsty so got through my water quite quickly, but I couldn't help but notice that our server was nowhere to be found and my water remained empty for the majority of the meal.
For mains, we went a nice safe route and had the Meatballs and Chicken Campanelle. As far as presentation goes, it's nothing spectacular. As for taste - it was fine. It was no better or worse than any other Italian restaurant outside of Italy, although I think the portion sizes were on the small side.
With our server still nowhere to be seen, our dessert comes out. I didn't really fancy anything on the menu so I just had some ice cream, but the other-half had a Chocolate and Cherry Tort, which I'm told was really good.
Once we were done, with my water glass still empty, our server comes over with the bill, leaves it on the table and walks off.
I open to find this.
Dining Plan Customers Watch Out
We booked this restaurant as the Fantasmic! dining package. For those who don't know, a select number of bookings can be made at Hollywood Studios which gives you reserved seats at the Fantasmic! show. It still costs 1 table service credit (2 if you eat at Hollywood Brown Derby), but you get the reserved seats. If you pay with cash, there is a a set price. Turns out, a meal at Mama Melrose has some arbitrary $43 set price no matter what we order when coupled with the Fantasmic! dining package.
As we were using a table service credit, it didn't really matter. Disney can slap whatever cash value they want on it. However, the issue with this is the suggested 18%-20% tip is based off the $43 charge, plus drinks. Not the price of the meal items we had. While tipping is a heated discussion at the best of times, I do tip the suggested amounts as long as the service received is above average.
The problem here is that for starters, our server wasn't particular good. She was quite rude and was nowhere to be seen through most of the meal, to then be told to tip 18% on a $43 set price meal when I had $23 meatballs.
Of course any reasonable person would think that's ridiculous and I of course was not going to tip that amount. I did not intend to tip the full 18% anyway based on the service we received on the menu item prices, let alone the $43 charge. We left a tip, the server came over, opened it up, huffed, and walked off. She came back a minute or so later, slammed the receipt on the table and walked off without saying a word.
This is of course unacceptable, so as we left we went to the check-in desk and asked to see the manager. The manager appeared to be busy and we told the check-in staff we're not wasting our vacation time waiting so we'll talk to guest services on the way out. We carried on with our day and did visit guest services to discuss our experience. The issue was rectified as best he could and passed the feedback to the restaurant management.
While a bad server can make or break a restaurant, that is not always enough by itself for me never to go back. We had a bad server at Ohana, but absolutely loved the food so we will be going back. However, in this case, with bad service, mediocre food, and quite a bland atmosphere, we won't be going back here.
But keep in mind when using table service credits when taking advantage of the Fantasmic! dining package you're not forced to over-tip.