Saturday, April 20, 2019

Palo Brunch & Dinner - Disney Wonder

Over Easter Break, we took our ninth cruise with Disney Cruise Line, and our first on the Disney Wonder. My husband and I never miss a chance to dine at Palo, an adults-only restaurant serving Northern Italian cuisine on all Disney ships.

When our booking window opened, I made reservations for brunch and dinner. The charge for Palo is now $40 per person, but it is definitely worth it.

Brunch at Palo includes a buffet, and a menu featuring dishes that are made to order.

I did not drink my complimentary Prosecco, because I broke out in hives after having a margarita flight at Disneyland a few days before our cruise. I started feeling itchy after drinking alcohol about four years ago. I rarely drink, but when I do, an allergy pill usually prevents a reaction, but that was not the case at Tortilla Jo's in Downtown Disney.

For bread, I was given slices of gluten free pizza crust with herbs, olive oil, and garlic. I considered ordering a pizza, but was glad I went with our server Monika's suggestion of the bread served at dinner. The pizza crust tasted like Udi's, and was cooked on a separate shelf in the oven on paper to prevent cross contamination.

I do not like to eat off buffets, because of the risk of cross contamination, so Monika took me on a tour of the buffet to see what dishes I would be interested in, and had all of my food brought from the kitchen. My plate of meats and cheeses was delicious, and I enjoyed everything except the brie and blue cheese, which I did not eat. My favorite was probably the cheddar with sage.

I especially enjoyed eating my cheeses with honey comb and fig jam.

Monika also brought me out some balsamic vinegar and a new French cheese that was not included on my first plate.

I was excited to see that chilled strawberry soup was available, but I did not love it, because it tasted like mint.

Large gluten free Mickey waffles are hard to come by. The only places I have found them are Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel, and Palo on the Disney Cruise Line. My Mickey waffle with apple cinnamon and strawberry toppings was delicious. I also added some fresh berries, which I had ordered on the side. The day before our brunch at Palo, I was told that the Disney Wonder uses King Arthur Gluten Free Pancake Mix to make waffles.

I am so glad that Monika suggested the Parmesan-crusted chicken breast with San Marzano tomato basil sauce and mozzarella cheese, served on top of creamy risotto. I am usually not a fan of chicken Parm, because I don't like acidic tomato sauces, but the sauce with this dish was on the sweeter side. On our last cruise on the Magic, I was told that the Parmesan-crusted chicken breast had to be preordered, because of the gluten free breadcrumbs, but that was not the case on the Wonder. It was so good, my husband and I would definitely order this dish again. I loved that the breaded chicken was served with risotto instead of pasta, because the two paired so well together.

For dessert, I was given panna cotta, and baked yogurt with mango. I did not eat the coffee panna cotta, because I have not enjoyed it in the past, and I was quite full at this point. Usually the baked yogurt is my favorite dessert, but on this visit, it was the berry panna cotta. I had a hard time resisting ordering a second one.

We had brunch at Palo on our first day at sea, and dinner there the next evening. We arrived before they opened at 6:00, and were seated at a table next to the windows with a beautiful view of the ocean.

For dinner, all dishes are ordered from the menu, and there is no buffet. I met with a Palo employee the day we boarded the Wonder to preorder gluten free calamari. I am not sure they had a record of my request, but because we were seated first, the fryer had not been contaminated yet.

We asked for Monika to be our server again, because we had such a great experience with her at brunch.

She made sure my pizza crust was the first to go in the oven, and checked with the chef about my calamari. The pizza crust was just as good as it was at brunch, so I could not resist eating all of it.

My husband and I always love the plate of Italian meats, cheeses, roasted vegetables, and olives from the antipasti cart.  We had ours drizzled with olive oil and aged balsamic.

A couple of years ago, Palo changed its Tuscan white bean soup, but I asked Monika if I could have the blended bean soup instead of the cannellini beans with pancetta and kale simmered in chicken stock. Our server on our last cruise on the Magic told us that the old version of the bean soup is available if you ask. It was so delicious, I had a hard time handing it over to my husband. I could have eaten the whole bowl, but I was saving room for the rest of our meal.

The gluten free fried calamari at Palo is some of the best I have ever had. It was perfectly cooked and seasoned. The calamari was served with lemon-garlic mayonnaise and marinara dipping sauces on the side, but it was delicious on its own.

Before our entrees were served, we were given lemon sorbet as a palate cleanser.

I usually order the grilled prime beef tenderloin, but on this visit, I chose the Piquant Dover Sole - fileted tableside. I asked for mine to be served without the capers, anchovies, and sun-dried tomatoes.

Once it was taken out of the pan it was cooked in with all that lovely nut-brown butter, I was afraid it would be tasteless, but it was one of the best fish dishes I have ever had at a restaurant. Every bite of the fish was infused with a lovely taste of butter, and Monika told me that they added a little lemon too, but it was so subtle, I could not really taste it. I enjoyed the thyme potatoes it was served with, but skipped the rest of my vegetables.

My husband and I have always loved Palo's wild mushroom risotto, but we should have asked for a smaller portion, because neither one of us could eat very much of it with all the other food we ordered. Mitch had his own portion of the Dover Sole, and pappardelle pasta tossed in a lobster tarragon sauce with leeks, white truffle oil, and grilled lobster. Monika said that this dish could be made gluten free, but I told my husband to get the gluten-filled version, because I wanted to save room for dessert.

My favorite dessert at Palo has always been their chocolate souffle with vanilla bean gelato, and vanilla and chocolate sauces. I never eat the chocolate sauce, so I asked for a double portion of the vanilla sauce, and extra ice cream too. I should have known something was wrong with my dessert when I could not easily push down the top of my souffle.

Once I tasted it, I knew why. I had been given a warm chocolate cake instead of chocolate souffle, so I only ate a few bites. It was good, but I was disappointed, because I really look forward to enjoying a chocolate souffle when I cruise with Disney Cruise Line. I should have had Monika ask how my souffle was prepared, but I just decided to order my second favorite dessert at Palo, the warm orange almond cake, instead of making a fuss about it.

Thankfully, I had extra vanilla sauce to pour on top of my cake, which is my favorite way to enjoy this dessert. Next time, I need to remember to ask for some more fresh fruit on the side.

Sadly, two of my blog readers told me that they have had the same experience with the Palo chocolate souffle on recent cruises on the Magic and the Fantasy. When we board the Magic in June, I will definitely be discussing the chocolate souffle ahead of time with the manager of Palo. I also plan on preordering the Parmesan-crusted chicken breast for brunch, and the calamari for dinner, because I was told those dishes had to be ordered ahead of time on the Magic in 2017. I also like to mention that I am interested in ordering a gluten free Mickey waffle at brunch, just in case.

Our meal at Palo ended with a complimentary after dinner drink of lemon sorbet, apple brandy, and Prosecco. I have enjoyed it on past cruises, but I passed it on to my husband. Overall, we had two great dining experiences at Palo on the Disney Wonder.

You can read more about Palo on the Disney Cruise Line website.

What are your favorite gluten free dishes at Palo?


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