Editor’s note: Beyond excited to welcome Safari Mike of the wonderful Jambo Everyone, dedicated to all things Animal Kingdom. One of the features I’ve tried to always have on This Happy Place Blog caters to those who cannot be in the actual theme parks all the time. We have to find the magic in our own ways, which is why Mike’s review of a neighborhood New Jersey restaurant is so fitting. I hope those of you awaiting your next Disney trip not only find your mouth watering about this spot but also think about the places you gravitate to when you need a little bit of that Disney feeling.
Living more than a short car ride from Disney World is not always easy. We love it, we love the parks, we love the resorts and we love the food. We really love the food. And not just from the Animal Kingdom either. Yeah, sure, we write for a website devoted to it, but we are fans of a lot of things about the Mouse, including the restaurants at World Showcase. One of our favorite things to do is meander around the lagoon sampling all the different cuisines. This includes the Italian food at Tutto Italia, Tutto Gusto and Via Napoli.
Imagine our joy when we discovered not far from us was an eatery owned and operated by the Patina Group, who operates both of those places. In Livingston, New Jersey, there is Panevino, and, frankly, we love it too. It sits a little off Route 10, a busy roadway. It’s designed to look like a Tuscan cottage with a nice patio for outdoor seating. There is even a bocce ball court nearby. Inside, the decor is simple but pleasant. We particularly enjoy the green house seating because the rest of the dining area can get rather loud. There is a bar and large pizza ovens, as well.
While the setting is pleasant, the food is the star. We found the food to be sort of in between Via Napoli and Tutto Italia. There are some fancier northern Italian dishes but there are also personal pizzas that are basically the same as at Via Napoli. We like the Margherita and Barese (sausage, onion, tomato, and mozzarella). However, we were not a fan of the quattro formaggi pizza. Two words of advice: Get appetizers. We love, love, love the stuffed red peppers. They are small red bell peppers with meat ragu and rice in sweet red pepper sauce, and are all kinds of amazing. The arancini (rice balls stuffed with meat, peas and cheese), which is the same at Via Napoli, is also terrific.
There are plenty of good choices here. The caesar salad is quite good. We have also enjoyed lasagna, paccheri, and the penne with plum tomatoes and mozzarella. They offer a lunch menu, as well. It’s virtually the same as dinner with the addition of some pizza sandwiches, that are similar to paninis.
Now let’s talk about two of our favorite things: alcohol and dessert. There is a Limoncello mojito which is fantastic. There are several mojitos, tinis and something called a bocce ball that features amaretto and Panevino iced tea. Speaking of which, if you don’t want booze, get the Panevino iced tea which is an awesome orange flavored iced tea that we could drink by the gallon. I hope you have room for dessert because there are a couple of items here that are really worth it. The best? Frutta Mista. This is a plate of fresh fruit with 2 dipping sauces, one a dark chocolate and the other zabaglione which is vanilla bean. A-ma-zing. It doesn’t look like much, but, well, just get it. They also have the typical gelatos, tiramisu, cannoli and the like.
When we get a little “homesick” from Disney, this is a place we like to hit, which, of course, means we go there a lot. The pizza is just like Via Napoli. After eating it, we feel like a viewing of Illuminations should immediately follow.