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Feb 14, 2011 01:41 PM

Fine meal at La Luce near Disney

Had a chance last night to eat at La Luce at the Hilton Bonnet Creek on Disney property. For those unaware, just off Downtown Disney but nearby the entrance to Hollywood Studios there are a few upscale hotels that are not owned or managed by Disney so don't get the transportation or signage, but are on the property itself so provide a unique option. The brands there are Waldorf Astoria, Hilton and Wyndham, and include a quite nice 18 hole golf course as well.

Back to the restaurant. La Luce (pronounce Loo-chay) is from Donna Scala of Napa fame. The space is really quite georgeous and the service was amiable and professional, especially by Orlando attraction-area hotel standards. It's Italian by way of Napa with a smallish menu of very fresh and light options. A good part of the menu are word-fired pizzas which we didn't get but the ones that came out to other guests looked AMAZING and we will be returning to give them a try.

We started with an appetizer of Carpaccio which was well-seasoned and fresh, especially the arugula - I always give high marks to places who pay attention to the complimentary ingredients as well as the stars, and La Luce delivered. We also shared a fantastic salad called Fagolini Verde con Bietole which had roasted beets, green beans, fennel, avocado and a Roquefort vinaigrette. Again, we cleaned the plate and were tempted to lick it.

The Primi menu of pastas looked awesome and we were tempted by the Bis and Tris tasting options, but I had my eye on something from the Secondi so my wife went with the Raviolo con Granchio which featured a single loosely wrapped giant ravioli stuffed with Maine crab, ricotta, tarragon and mascarpone in a slightly rich bisque (yes I visited the website menu to recall the ingredients - sue me I don't take notes when I eat :) ) It was delicious and not too rich or heavy. I inhaled the Grilled Sausage and Duck Confit with a spicy white Tuscan Bean Ragu and aged balsamic sauce. It was another great option.

The wine list was great as you can imagine from a Napa-inspired place.

Now, a word of caution: this IS a hotel basically on Disney property, so you will see young ones brought along by their parents, probably too late for them to still be up. That said, the atmosphere is such that almost any parent would be uncomfortable bringing a rambunctious child into the setting, and the kids we saw were all very well-behaved and did not affect our romantic dinner for two in the slightest. But if you refuse to believe a nice meal can be eaten in the presence of children then this isn't the part of town for you.

There is a definite convention vibe, but the space is beautiful and you don't get that heavy hotel feel once you're seated. Now it doesn't feel like an independent restaurant in an old house, but you're on Disney property so what can you expect?

I have moved La Luce up near the top of my recommended list for Orlando based on last night's meal, especially for those visiting the Disney area but looking for something better than the average turkey leg or Rainforest Cafe. I put it on par with California Grill in quality but with a much more relaxed environment and diverse menu (and fewer kids)

Check it out - let us know what you thought.

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  1. so Sam, have you been here recently. I just made reservations for December when we will be up there for a few days to play golf. It sounds great....I am weary of Disney restaurants, even Jiko and Cali Grill. I'll let you know what we think. Maybe someone else will before then as well.

    2 Replies
    1. re: LilMsFoodie

      Haven't been back (too many options around here). I will vouch for one great meal, but of course it takes a few to make it a solid guarantee.

      1. re: LilMsFoodie

        Went twice during magical dining month, still a great place to dine. Discovered the butterscotch pudding. The toffee that accompanies it is some of the best stuff I have ever put in my mouth.

      2. We had a lovely meal at La Luce in late December. Here is what I wrote on Open Table:

        LaLuce lives up to its reputation

        OpenTable Diner Since
        Dined on 12/29/2011
        5 / 5
        5 / 5
        5 / 5

        Imagine a restaurant that is both romantic and kid friendly. Somehow they managed to pull this off. Lots of kids at the restaurant but they were well behaved and seemed elevated by the atmosphere.
        We loved our food. My husband had red snapper with large beans. very flavorful and probably quite low in fat. We shared a fried olive and marcona almond appetizer. Addictive!!! I had the silk handkerchief pasta with gorgonzola cream sauce and walnuts. Very rich and delicious. We had the butterscotch pudding, so famous it has it's own facebook page. It was very good but a little sweet for us. We would do the tiramisu the next time. I thought the prices were very moderate given the venue and quality. We highly recommend.

        1 Reply
        1. re: LilMsFoodie

          They had an excellent wine list: Californian as it should be for it's type. We had a lovely white meritage by Ferrari Carrano: Belle Luce Step up pricing was not too bad. I had a lovely sparkling wine apertif in the lobby bar. We watched the sunset from there which was spectacular with the golf course backdrop.