We recently had the opportunity to go on a Disney Cruise onboard the Disney Magic…
So I’m gonna start off the Palo Brunch Review by just saying one word: GO! No, really, I’m serious. If you just listen to that advice, you’ll be all set. But since you happened on this web page to read about Palo, then I’ll break it down for you. But you’ll see that in the end you drew the same conclusion as me! 😉
We recently were able to go on a 5 Day Bahamas Cruise on the Disney Magic, and like always it didn’t disappoint. But pretty much any trip I ever take to any place, the highlight for me was of course, the food! And for me the best Disney restaurant anywhere is Palo.
Luckily you can find Palo on all 4 Disney Cruise Line ships, so no matter which cruise you go on, it’ll be there. We had one of the best meals of our lives at Palo for Dinner, but had never done the Brunch. So pull up a chair and get ready as I describe to the best of my ability one of the best dining experiences you’ll find: my Palo Brunch Review.
Palo is Signature Dining Restaurant for Adults-Only whether for Brunch or for Dinner, and can be found on all the Disney Cruise Line ships: Disney Fantasy, Disney Dream, Disney Wonder and our ship the Disney Magic. It’s a nice rest for grown-ups who want a night away from the kids (both theirs and those of other guests) and want a romantic or peaceful meal to themselves.
The atmosphere is amazing and themed after Venice, Italy so the food is focused on Northern Italian Cuisine. While you can go to Palo for Dinner any night of the cruise, it’s only open for Brunch on “At-Sea Days.”
- TIP: Reservations are a must at Palo for Brunch and Dinner, and I would make them the very first day that reservations are made available for your cruise as it will fill up very fast (especially for Brunch).
Being a Signature restaurant, Palo isn’t included in the price of your cruise like the other dining rotation restaurants and comes with an added cost of $40 per person (Brunch or Dinner). Unfortunately for some that means they won’t go. In my opinion skipping Palo would be the biggest mistake you could make as both meals were the highlight of my Disney Cruise.
I understand your other meals are paid for, but even though the quality of places like Animator’s Palate and Cabanas, the difference between the rotational dining quality and Palo is unmistakable. You won’t get another opportunity to eat at a world-class restaurant for only $40. In Walt Disney World terms, it’s the cost of 2 Margaritas at Choza de Margarita in Mexico, Epcot, making Palo the steal of the century imo.
Lastly, having lived in Italy for 5 years and having a wife from Italy, I feel qualified to say that this is as authentic of a REAL Italian meal you will find on this side of the Atlantic, and it was very hard to tell the difference between the 2. It’s worth the $40, trust me.
Ok enough talk, let’s get right into my Palo Brunch Review and I’ll show you why you need to go. Knowing that our Palo Dinner lasted well over 3 hours, we knew we were in for the challenge of our lives!
Palo is located on the 10th Floor of the Disney Magic and when you arrive you’ll be here in the lobby, just outside the restaurant:
I love the funky display of plates and vases in the hallway:
Let’s make our way in:
The inspiration behind Palo comes from Venice, where both the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder ships were built. To pay homage to where they came from, and was Disney’s way of saying: “Thank You.” In Italian the word: “Palo” means “pole”, and you catch on that it’s referring to the poles on the Venice Gondolas as soon as you step foot in the restaurant:
Even though Palo is on all 4 Disney Cruise Line ships, each one is unique, but the Venetian styling stands out immediately. Right in the entrance you get a look at typical Venetian Masks worn by residents during Carnival:
They are really gorgeous:
This one is my favorite:
Palo Manager Felice was incredibly helpful during our stay. He helped me make changes to our reservations multiple times and was very accommodating:
Have a seat and wait till your table is ready:
While you are waiting you can also look at some of the bottles of wine on display, most vintage bottles of really expensive labels:
Love the look of the display behind the bar:
The back room is my favorite room in Palo, and it’s used for private events:
The mosaics bearing the restaurant’s name is absolutely stunning:
Heading back out to the dining room you can see this would be a perfect table for 2, with a killer view!
After hearing we were coming Palo had to take a few minutes to prepare enough food for us so we could do a thorough Palo Brunch review, but now they’re ready and Sylvester is going to escort us to our table: ;). Just a side point, all the Palo staff was phenomenal both for Dinner and Brunch. I can’t remember when we’ve ever been treated this well in a restaurant before. The manager, Head Chef, and all the waiters were awesome!
Here we are:
Some beautiful roses adorn the table, setting a nice mood:
This is the last time you’ll see my plate like this, I promise you!
Warning: Do not Continue if you are hungry or on a diet, it could be risky to your health or mental state…
Before getting down to the food, we had to get a few drinks so we’d be prepared for our food. Ugo, who was probably the best Disney waiter we’ve ever had, made some suggestions and we ordered up our drinks:
It doesn’t matter that it’s still morning, we’re on a Disney Cruise!!
The Mimosa was good, standard but always welcome imo. I thought the Bellini and the Berry Prosecco were the stand-outs though. The Bellini was really nice, and had a wonderful peach flavor which was very light. I would have liked a touch more prosecco in it, but it was really good.
The Berry Prosecco was my personal favorite of the drinks. I’m a sucker for anything berry-flavored and this didn’t disappoint! The fruit wasn’t overpowering, but you could still taste the berries, and it was very refreshing.
My Dad ordered a Bloody Mary, which I swear he does at every Disney Breakfast/Brunch we go to. I personally can’t down one first thing in the morning, but this was a good option for those of you who enjoy them. It wasn’t nearly as impressive as the epic one at Cape May Cafe, but it was still good.
Now that we’re hydrated, let’s get something to eat!
Breakfast Sweets Buffet:
The buffet at the Palo Brunch is broken up into 3 buffet zones: 1. Breakfast Sweets (Pastries, Croissants, Danish, etc) 2. Main Buffet Tables (Savory items, Meats, Fish, Cheese, Bread, etc) and 3. Dessert Buffet. Not to mention the Made-to-Order Menu where you can have specialty dishes specially made-to-order and brought to your table.
So you can attack the Palo buffet any way you want, but we hit it in the traditional Italian manner. So since the typical Italian breakfast is sweets, we started there first:
So there was a great variety of traditional Italian breakfast sweets on this buffet. Variety of Croissants (Brioche), Sweet Bread with Raisins, Cinnamon Rolls, Muffins, Cakes, and other Pastries:
Keeping in mind that this was a marathon and we intended on being here for the good part of 3-4 hours, we had to pace ourselves and be choosy on our first course. That being said, I absolutely LOVE Almond Croissants, so I had to try one of these. And I also grabbed some kind of pastry with strawberries and a cream cheese filling.
Both were really good. The Almond Croissant I especially liked because it was a bit crunchy outside with a flaky texture, but inside with was very delicate and light. Just look at the inside. It wasn’t going to be heavy, exactly what I needed in this situation.
We are big Cinnamon Roll fans, and this one was exceptionally good. Even better than the Croissant. It was very small and we only took one, but one another occasion if we weren’t going to be eating so much food, I’d have taken at least 5-6 of these and called it a day. It was super gooey and had all sorts of rich cinnamon-sweetness going on. Absolutely loved it!
Ok, our first sweets down and our stomachs primed, we head to the Main Buffet:
Brunch Main Buffet:
So on the Main Buffet you’re going to find all the savory items like Cured Meats, a million varieties of Fish, all sorts of Vegetables, Cheeses, Breads, etc. This is where we knew we would do the most damage:
This Prosciutto di San Daniele is one of the most prized types of Prosciutto in Italy and this aged 400 Days, and sliced right off the bone. Sweet and delicate:
We’re in Seafood Heaven with King Crab Legs, already split and opened up for us!!
Is that Prosciutto-wrapped Asparagus I see??
“It’s a Trap!!” Must, resist, Bread Sticks…
Yeah, just slap that plate down on our table please…
After much deliberating, we’ve made our choice and are back. We got some of the Prosciutto, which was incredibly rich and delicate. Also we tried the Mortadella, which is like Bologna’s but better in every way. Like his big brother who is always embarrassing him in front of his friends! We had to get more of the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese that we also had at Palo for Dinner, because that’s our favorite cheese ever!
Next we tried some of the Buffalo Mozzarella, which is a sweeter, more delicate version of Fresh Mozzarella, again superior in every way. We loaded up on more meats, and we started on the King Crab Legs and Shrimp too. Love how the Crab Legs are already opened for you, that way I don’t have to waste any time, just scoop out the meat and go!
The Palo Brunch Buffet is a really, really high quality buffet and we kept realizing that with every dish. The Seared Tuna was also incredible, rare inside and just slightly seared but heavily seasoned outside. More Shrimp, and Crab Legs dominated our every trip to the buffet:
As you can see….hahahahaha
There wasn’t really anything we didn’t like. There were so many options, and everything was of such a high quality. It was a pleasure to eat a a buffet for once where you didn’t have to worry about little kids’ hands being all in the food, and hardly ever did we see more than a couple min go by fro when one dish was gone that it was replaced by another.
Oh yeah, how could I forget the Scallops?? I’m a sucker for scallops and I very rarely sever see them on a buffet, but these again were of the highest quality and prepared to perfection like the rest of the items.
One area of the Palo Brunch that I think might get overlooked the there are so many other high-end options out there to choose from is the made-to-order Pizza Station. At first I thought I wasn’t going to waste any valuable space in my stomach for a pizza, which I can get just about anywhere. My waiter convinced me against such foolish thinking, and I’m sure glad he did. So we ordered up a Spicy Sausage Pizza:
This Pizza was incredible! Very light and chewy with a great spicy flavor, but not overpowering. It had lots of cheese which is a must in my book, I hate when they skimp. We also ordered one without cheese and that was fantastic too, even a little more crispy than the sausage one. Honestly one of the best pizzas I’ve had in my life, and living my whole life either in the Connecticut/NYC area or Italy, that’s saying something…
So the Pastries Round is over, so is the Main Brunch, but we’re only getting started! We’ve un-buckled our belts as now we have the Made-to-Order Menu to do!
Made-to-Order Brunch Menu Food:
If at this point you can somehow muster up the courage to eat anything else like we did, the Brunch Menu is really incredible and offers both more traditional breakfast options, or lunch options. Heck, if you want get a mix!
Since we had just eaten fish, cheese, etc, and by now it was already about noon, we decided we couldn’t go backwards to breakfast foods so the more lunch-style options were standing out to us. Our incredible waiter Ugo made a couple of suggestions to us, and side he’s been money up till now, there was no reason to doubt him!
First up was the Lasagna Bolognaise:
So Ugo said this was a close to his mother’s recipe that he’s tried. I haven’t tried his mom’s cooking, but if it tastes as good as this then we’re willing to give it a try!
The pasta is hand-made, and the recipe is very simple: Pasta, Tomato, Besciamella and the Meat with was an incredibly tasty mix of pork and beef! It was very soft and the flavors reminded my wife of lasagna when she was just a little girl in Italy. A must-try! Well done Ugo!!
Next was the Rollatini Melanzane:
Melanzane is Eggplant in Italian, and the eggplant was very thin, and nicely fried. The whole thing was filled with ricotta and prosciutto which gave the dish a nice texture. The sauce was really really incredible, and slightly sweet. Maybe it was that we were starting to go into a food coma, but we thought it was good, but not memorable like the lasagna.
The ravioli we had at Palo for Dinner were incredible! We are big artichoke fans, so we were really looking forward to these, however they were just ok. They were served with mushrooms in a pesto sauce with fresh pecorino Romano cheese and they had a bit of lemon, but something was just off for me. They had too much of a bitter taste to them for me and were not up to par with the rest of the options unfortunately.
So Veal Saltimbocca is a famous Roman dish that literally means: “jumps in your mouth.” Unfortunately for us this Saltimbocca wasn’t nearly on par with the versions we’ve tried in Rome. I didn’t like the sauce, which really makes or breaks the dish. I thought the sauce was too sweet and overpowered the meat. Probably the biggest and one of only 2 disappointments we had (Ravioli the other). I’d skip this one and go for the next one instead:
A good chicken parm is one of our favorite all-time Italian dishes, and this was quite possibly at the top of the list of them all. The chicken itself was super tender and melted in your mouth. It was juicy and moist and everything perfect about it.
The sauce was equally as incredible, and the same as the one used in our other 2 plates that we really enjoyed, the Lasagna and Eggplant. This is what Italian cooking is famous for: great flavorful dishes that are simple, using only 3-4 ingredients of the highest quality. Could eat this over and over again and not get sick of it. Fantastic!
Lastly of course from the Brunch Menu we absolutely HAD to get Mickey Waffles, especially when they were passing by and we saw the size of them. They’re HUGE!
Of course you’re familiar with Mickey Waffles since they are the most popular breakfast food in Walt Disney, but you probably haven’t had them like this before! They were very similar to the original Mickey Waffles, but the dough was definitely softer than the normal small Mickey Waffles that can tend to be hard at times, but not soggy by any means and the perfect crispness around the edges.
We weren’t going to leave it empty by any means, so we filled that bad boy up with a wonderful strawberry compote! They don’t skimp with the strawberries and made sure that ever crevice was filled! Also even though I don’t have a picture of the whipped cream, it’s made fresh in-house and not from a can.
It’s a must-get and my new favorite waffle anywhere!
I know what you are thinking: “How can there even be one small centimeter of space left in your stomachs for dessert?” Oh my friend, how little you know. Even though we were ready to be rolled out of the restaurant, we couldn’t conclude our Palo Brunch review without trying the desserts, but for you, not for us. I t would be irresponsible blogging otherwise. So we mustered up the energy to make it over to the Desserts Buffet Table:
Well I knew this wasn’t going to end well for me seeing as pretty much every dessert was appealing to me!! ?
I loved how the desserts were setup too in small mini portions. By this point no normal human could eat regular-sized desserts, so these bite-sized ones were just perfect:
There were tons of varieties too: Tarts, Mousses, Cannoli, Fruit Cups, Cream Puffs, Mini Creme Brûlée, and even Chocolate-covered Strawberries:
Geez, where do I even start?
Maybe if I eat this, it will help me lose weight…it’s fruit after all!
Yeah, I know, we’re pretty much disgusting human beings: ??
So we got a little of everything to try, they of course are only small tastes.
- Nutella Cream Puff: This was amazing. Had a very light Nutella mousse inside and a spongy pasty shell outside. Could have popped 5-6 of these easy!
- Mixed Berries with Champagne Jello: Also excellent, especially the presentation. Fruit was very fresh, and were a nice compliment to the jello. Very light and probably the best option after a Palo Brunch.
- Strawberry Tart: Basically like your typical Disney fruit tarts, which is a good thing. The crust was thin, but almost cookie-like, and again the fruit was fresh. I couldn’t tell if the cream inside was a regular cream or had a hint of lemon maybe, but either way it was quite good.
- Pistachio and Chocolate Cake: this was a spongy, 7-layer cake, alternating pistachio and chocolate every other layer. I thought it was ok, but since I’ve a huge pistachio fan, I thought it was overpowered by the chocolate too much.
- Lemon Meringue Tart in Glass: This was one of my favs, I really enjoyed it. It had a soft meringue top and a very creamy lemon filling underneath. I love me some lemon desserts, and this was the perfect mix of tangy and sweet which is hard to find. I liked the shortcake at the bottom, just thought there was a bit too much of it and would have liked more lemon. Overall excellent though!
- Raspberry and White Chocolate Mousse: The bottom layer was a very delicious raspberry mousse which was the strongest flavor in the dessert. A smaller white chocolate mousse was on top of that, and then a very thin raspberry sauce on top of that. There was a hard meringue on top of it all. It h ad a very strong raspberry taste, which if you are like me you’ll absolutely love!
- Cannoli w/pistachios: These were small so of course I got 2 of them. The shell was pretty good, nice and fresh tasting not soggy. They had more of a creamy filling than traditional cannoli filling, but they were still good. I really like the pistachio flavor to them, and the extra pistachio chips at the bottom of the cups were a great touch!
- Chocolate Cappuccino Mousse: This had both dark and white chocolate mousses inside and was really rich and smooth. Distinct cappuccino flavor without being overpowering.
We of course loved the Nutella Cream Puffs we got another one, and we just had to try the Palo house specialty: Tiramisu.
If it wasn’t for the last thing on my list, I’d say this was the best dessert we tried during our Palo Brunch review. I’m not really even a big tiramisu fan, but this was ridiculous.! What made it so good was the fact that the coffee flavor wasn’t overpowering, and there was TONS of mascarpone in there so it was really creamy and just overall amazing. My wife who has eaten tiramisu her whole life in Italy was even blown away. A must-get!
We also couldn’t leave without trying some of the Fresh Fruit and the Chocolate Covered Strawberries. Not too much you can say about these, but the chocolate covered strawberries were well above average and we really enjoyed them.
So that’s it…or that’s what we thought. After having tried almost everything on the menu, and literally having to move our belt notches out by 2, there wasn’t any possible way we had room for anything else, or so we thought. Our awesome waiter Ugo said that there was still one specialty dessert not listed on the menu that we couldn’t leave Palo without trying, and all we needed was a magical spoon. Since Ugo has never steered us wrong before, we mustered every ounce of courage we could to face what was coming last…
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Nutella Lava Cake:
So I’m not usually for the rich, chocolaty desserts, I usually go more for the fruity/creamy ones, but this was something altogether different and truly amazing! There are two layers to this masterpiece which combine chocolate and Nutella. The bottom layer was almost fudge-like and a little denser, while the top layer was almost a cream it was so smooth. Top that off with the whole thing being drowned in melted dark chocolate and a whole and crumbled meringues.
The whole thing is stuffed with a Nutella sauce, making it so good it doesn’t even belong on this earth. Anyone who is a chocolate or Nutella lover is in for the ride of their life and it’s the absolute best dessert at a Palo Brunch so be sure to ask your waiter for it!
Just like Dinner, everything at the Palo Brunch was superb and it was one of the most memorable dining experiences we’ve ever had period, not only with Disney. The whole event lasted over 3 hours, so make sure not to book anything too close to your reservation, and make room for a nap afterwards.
We loved everything about it from the service, the variety and size of the food options, both on the buffet and on the brunch menu. Especially when you think of a buffet, you don’t think of something this high-quality, but the food was incredible, and everything was well prepared and fresh. Some of our highlights included: the Cinnamon Rolls, all the Shrimp, King Crab, Scallops and Tuna you could want.
Not to mention all the Cheeses and aged Prosciutto. From the made-to-order menu the Lasagna and Chicken Parmigiana were quite possibly the best I’ve ever had of either and definite must-tries. And for dessert if you leave palo without getting the Nutella Lava Cake then you’re making maybe the biggest mistake of your life, so don’t!
Overall our experience during our Palo Brunch review was again one of the best dining moments of my entire life, and the highlight of our Disney Cruise. It was everything we were hoping it would be and I can’t say we were disappointed in any way at all. We are going to make sure and do a Palo Brunch on every Disney Cruise from here forward and even if it costs extra money, it will be the best $40 you’ve ever spent!
Palo Dinner vs Palo Brunch?
So you can’t go wrong with either really, and both are life-changing Disney food events. I would try my best to do both a Palo Brunch and Dinner. No-where else in the Western Hemisphere can you enjoy a truly 5-Star experience for $40. That said if forced to choose I lean slightly toward the Dinner. You just can’t beat the atmosphere at sunset with those 270-degree views all around you making it just a bit more romantic.
Also if you go at the later sitting then you can just relax and take your time with your meal without feeling like you are being hurried through a remarkable experience. The food was excellent at both, but I just liked the overall choices a little more for dinner than brunch. But again, you have to try both imo and decide for yourself as our group was split down the middle, with some liking the palo brunch better than dinner too.
- TIP: If you are undecided between Brunch or Dinner, it’s an easy choice: Do both! But if you can only choose one then my choice would be for Dinner but only by the slightest of margins. Would you choose between your children? No. So why do that to Palo?
If you are looking to see what Dinner is like, then check out my Full Palo Dinner Review Here! Both experiences are out of this world and need to be done!
I love to write Restaurant Reviews of Walt Disney World, Disneyland and Disney Cruise Line and I hope you found this one to be informative and helpful. If you liked this review then please visit my Disney Dining Reviews Page where I have many other Restaurant Reviews. I’m happy sharing with you what I love doing best…eating!?
I try to bring you the most thorough and unbiased reviews about the food and restaurants at Walt Disney World, so that as you are planning your vacation, you know the “can’t be missed” places, and where you shouldn’t waste your time. Hope you enjoyed this one and will enjoy many others in the future!!
I want to know what you think about my Disney Cruise Palo Brunch Review. What have your experiences at Palo been like? What’s your favorite thing on the menu? Do you prefer Palo Dinner or Palo Brunch? Let us know in the comments section below!
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