By far, the best meals for the best prices available on the new Disney Fantasy cruise ship can be found at Palo. Though the Italian restaurant may not be unique to the Fantasy, also appearing on all three other Disney Cruise Line ships, its cuisine is nothing short of spectacular, far superior to anything found in the rotational dining options on board.
After a lackluster meal at Animator’s Palate the night prior during the recent Inaugural cruise, I was certainly ready for some great food. The rotational dining on the Disney Fantasy includes stops in Animator’s Palate, Enchanted Garden, and Royal Court, placing diners at assigned tables with the same servers and shipmates each night. Those experiences are included in the cost of a Disney cruise. But for an extra $20 per head, adults (18+) willing to dress up a little bit can dine comfortably and quietly at Palo, well worth the extra cost.
Palo is not overtly Italian in its dimly-lit decor, but its food speaks volumes beyond its understated appearance, beginning with the fresh bread and crispy breadsticks awaiting patrons at each table.
From there, the Italian culinary adventure begins with a delicious assortment of antipasti, wheeled table side by servers, with each plate individually and carefully prepared.
Offerings include fresh parmigiano reggiano cheese, prosciutto di Parma and other sliced cold cuts, marinated olives and artichokes, roasted peppers, and an assortment of flavored oils. I could have eaten just these finger foods all night and left happy, but there was much more to come.
Palo’s menu isn’t a typical Americanized Italian menu with over-sauced, over-stuffed lasagna and manicotti. Its Northern Italian cuisine features dishes prepared with finesse, each offering complex flavors, beginning with the appetizers.
I ordered the Grilled Portobello Mushroom and Polenta, with a Roasted Shallot Sauce and Parmesan Crisp. Though I wouldn’t give it the highest points for presentation, nearly unrecognizable on the plate, its taste far made up for it with the rich sauce equally as good as the perfectly prepared polenta and savory mushroom. My only complaint is that the parmesan crisp wasn’t quite crispy, though still enjoyable.
My wife Michelle ordered Mozzarella and Plum Tomatoes with Balsamic Dressing, a variation of a Caprese salad. I tried it and found the fresh, ripe tomato’s natural sweetness beautifully enhanced by the bright dressing.