Review: Tony’s Town Square at Magic Kingdom

Lady and the Tramp at Tony's Town SquareEditor’s Note: This post is featured on the Disney Blog Carnival #39. Read more great posts about all things Disney! The next carnival will be Feb. 6. Submissions are due on Feb. 4!

Who doesn’t love the classic movie of Disney’s “Lady and the Tramp,” a love story of an elitist cocker spaniel who falls for a mutt from the other side of the tracks?

The movie’s classic romantic scene behind an Italian restaurant is recreated on Main Street USA at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. Tony’s Town Square Restaurant pays homage to the era of the movie, the cuisine and even those playful puppies who are so in love.

Let’s take a closer look inside one of the Disney parks’ sit-down spots that is fun for the whole family…

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Polcari’s Has An App For That

Brett and I went out for date night last night at Polcari’s/Pizzeria Regina on Route 1 in Saugus. At the end of our meal, our server Sheena came out with this little gadget:

iPhone at Polcari's Pizzeria Regina in SaugusAn iPhone (attached to a wooden board) with a preloaded program for guests to input their thoughts about the meal they just had. It’s a simple step-by-step process asking you about your meal, server, cleanliness and how likely you are to recommend the restaurant to friends. The program uses a slider scale from thumbs up to thumbs down for your rating.

It was very easy to understand and input my suggestions and comments. However, at the end when I wanted to submit my thoughts, there was a connection issue that couldn’t be resolved. (I had been checking into Foursquare and Facebook throughout the night in the restaurant so I know my iPhone was working properly.)

Overall, I think it’s a great idea for businesses to make that leap into the 21st Century, using technology to learn more about the people who are sitting at their tables and booths, and creating better experiences based on customer-provided information.

Review: Dolce Vita

Dolce Vita ExteriorOn our last edition of “Write the Caption,” we showed the picture of this guy (see right.) The winner of caption challenge is Pam with:

Sir, may I take your umbrella?

Well, this guy can be found outside one of my favorite spots in all of Boston’s North End, Dolce Vita (which means the “sweet life.”) Owner Franco Graceffa welcomes everyone into his home for an unforgettable meal.

With so many restaurants claiming they are the best in this little neighborhood, Dolce Vita is our go-to place when we want to savor a hearty Italian meal. Franco does just about everything at the restaurant from seating you to taking your order. If you don’t see something you like on the menu, he’ll work with you to create something that you will love.

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Add Giada to Your Next Dish

Giada De Laurentiis and Bobby SchuesslerI am off today to San Francisco for the Scleroderma Foundation’s National Patient Education Conference. In the meantime, I have a new guest blogger who recently met one of Food Network’s most-beloved celebrity chefs (and she’ll be cooking for Prince William and Princess Catherine later this week in L.A.). By day, Bobby Schuessler works in NY at Lucky Magazine but today he’s filling us in on some of Giada De Laurentiis’ new cookware for fall available at Target.

Take it away, Bobby!

“Now sprinkle some mozz-u-rrrrela,” Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis exclaimed as she finished making her famous dish for a group of (hungry) magazine editors.

Editors from top publications (including myself) had the honor to gawk at the Italian-American chef as she introduced her new fall products of her Target cooking line. The new line complete with everything from a sleek food processor to beautifully packaged sun-dried tomatoes and pastas had everyone in the room buzzing, not to mention salivating (maybe just me) as she served her perfectly made dishes.

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Review: Pizzeria Regina in North End

The masses of people tend to hover around Hanover Street in Boston’s North End, a little Italian escape within walking distance of the Garden, Faneuil Hall and Charlestown Navy Yard.

Of course, there is some great food to indulge in on this main thoroughfare, but if you wander the streets of the neighborhood for a bit, you enjoy some of the best people watching and you can find some hidden gems.

Gelato on Hanover Street in North EndPictured above: Gelato shops like this one pop up all over North End’s Hanover Street. The area is bustling with people heading to the cafes, restaurants and bakeries. But sometimes, you need to veer off the beaten path to find something to fill your tummy.

Pizzeria Regina isn’t so much a hidden gem off of Hanover Street, but a Boston institution. Since 1926, this little spot (which has now spawned locations in shopping malls and in the ‘burbs), is small, cozy and an experience that everyone should try. The line for a table or a booth waits outside under the heat of a warming lamp. It quickly can wrap for a block with large parties ready to enjoy some of these oven-baked jewels.

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Review: The Great Escape

The Great Escape ExteriorIf I ever happen to be imprisoned for any reason in the near future, please let jail be like The Great Escape in Salem, Mass. This new eatery, which opened its doors in September 2010, gives Italian favorites a spectacular pardon.

Now through April 14, it’s Salem Restaurant Week. Participating restaurants like The Great Escape are offering three-course, prix-fixe meals for only $25. Some also have a two-course option for just $15. Who can beat those prices…and you get top notch cuisine in historic Salem.

The Great Escape is housed in what was once the country’s oldest active jail – built in 1813 and operating until 1991, a portion of the old building has been converted into apartment units (not sure if I’d want to live there.) And, while I’m sure there are some grisly stories from inmates’ stays in the jail, according to our waiter – Matthew – some of the restaurant’s staff do believe the building to be haunted. However, he doesn’t believe in those things.

The building is old brick and sits on the corner of Saint Peter Street and Bridge Street, right across from the Salem Depot Commuter Rail Station. Parking is the biggest issue in getting to the restaurant. We happened to find a short-term lot a block away behind the court house. But, with a lack of parking and rainy weather, the crowds weren’t piling into the restaurant – even with a cost-effective deal like Restaurant Week.

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New Sausage Kabob at Miller Park for 2011

The Sausage Race at Miller ParkI don’t think many of my faithful readers know that way back in 2006 I had the pleasure (or curse) of being a famed Klement’s Sausage at Miller Park when I worked for the Milwaukee Brewers. As the story goes, I was wearing horrid, glittery gold shorts, pink tennis shoes and was dressed as Brett Wurst, the bratwurst during a day game. I was pinch-running for a girl who tore her casing just before the 7th inning race.

I thought, “Hey, I’m a little slow, but it’s all in good fun.”

Well, there’s more to being a little slow in baseball. When you only have 90 seconds due to Major League Baseball contracts and radio broadcasts, that really only leaves the famed sausages about 30 to 40 seconds to make it from the far third base side to the far first base side. After wobbling my way around home plate, and teetering near the Brewers’ dugout (Ned Yost came to my aid to hold me up), I finally crossed the finish line – only to be berated by my boss saying that I was the most pitiful sausage ever. This news coming only a few short weeks after I fell out of a golf cart (while dressed as Stosh the Polish Sausage) while making rounds to happy-go-lucky tailgaters in the stadium’s parking lot.

Needless to say, that was my last day working as a sausage and for my beloved home team. My dreams to make it on Sportscenter as a heroic victor were crushed by the highlights of me nearly falling into the dugout being played repeatedly on local television.

Still, I love this endearing mascot that Milwaukee calls their own. And, I’m proud to say that another nod to it will come in 2011 when the Klement’s Famous Racing Sausage Kabob makes its debut at Miller Park.

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