Palo Dinner on Disney Cruise Line: Is It Worth It?

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After the 2021 restart to cruising, Palo’s all-you-can-eat dinner menu was reimagined, with a prix-fixe option and new a la carte offerings. With the shift in the menu many cruisers might wonder if the meal is still worth the upcharge. I ate dinner at Palo on a recent sailing of the Disney Fantasy, and here are my thoughts.

What You Need to Know

Palo is one of the adult specialty dining experiences on Disney Cruise Line, serving food inspired by Northern Italian cuisine. You can find Palo on all of the Disney ships. Although the layout of the ships is different, Palo is located directly above the buffet on each boat.

Palo on the Disney Fantasy

There is an extra charge to dine at Palo, and you must be 18 or older. For dinner, the prix-fixe is currently $45; alcohol is not included. Guests may also choose items from the more extensive a-la-carte menu. Platinum Castaway Club members may have one complimentary meal at Palo for the adults in their stateroom.

There is also a dress code; men need dress pants or slacks and a collared shirt, women need a dress, or skirt or pants with a blouse. Jeans can also be worn if they are in good condition, but flip-flops and tennis shoes are not permitted.

Reservations can be made online before sailing, or by contacting the Dining Services team once on board. As a rule, guests may only experience Palo dinner once per sailing, but on some sailings guests may be allowed an additional reservation for dinner on the first night.

For our meal we ate off the a-la-carte-menu, with a selection of the items available on the prix-fixe.

Starters

Pink Cadillac – $14

Cocktails at Palo are served from the Meridian Lounge, which Palo shares with Remy. We chose the Pink Cadillac, with coconut and watermelon liquors mixed with Möet Ice. It was light, fruity, and a great start to the meal.

Le Meridien Pink Cadillac cocktail

Palo Bread Basket – Included

Palo dinner bread basket

The included bread basket had an assortment of herbed focaccia, crackers, and grissini. All were excellent.

Mushroom and Toasted Gnocchi Amuse Bouche – Included

Palo dinner amuse bouche - mushroom soup with toasted gnocci

This lovely mouthful was a complex little creamy mushroom soup. The toasted gnocchi was perfect, a small bite that wasn’t excessively doughy as gnocchi can be sometimes. It was so light that it actually would have been easy to mistake for a crouton if you weren’t paying attention.

Heirloom Tomato Buffalo Mozzarella Caprese – $12

Palo heirloom tomato buffalo mozzarella caprese

I confess, we didn’t notice until after we ordered it that this dish is not the same as the one included in the prix fixe menu. They are similar, but this one has a pour of aged balsamic vinegar where the prix fixe version comes with a small bed of arugula instead. I really enjoyed the balsamic, but the heirloom tomatoes were beautifully ripe and the basil pesto such a strong complementary flavor that I think I would certainly have enjoyed the prix fixe dish. The mozzarella was soft and creamy, easy to portion out and pile onto the tomato to get a complete bite.

Baby Arugula – $7

Palo baby arugula

This dish of arugula with shaved parmesan, olive oil, and white balsamic was a perfect simple salad. The oil and vinegar were properly balanced for a refreshing dressing that wasn’t overly oily or acidic, and the parmesan added a little punch of salty complexity. Unlike the tomatoes and mozzarella, this is exactly the same as the version on the prix fixe.

Ciuppin Soup – $14

Palo Ciuppin

Palo spelling aside, this was a delicious cioppino. The seafood was plentiful and the full-bodied broth was slightly spicy.

Tuscan White Bean Soup – $7

Palo Tuscan White Bean Soup

Of the two soups, this was my favorite. The broth was clear, with the complex flavor that you only find in long-simmered stocks. The kale was bright and not overcooked. The beans were completely cooked, but still firm enough that they hadn’t begun to leak starch into the broth. Combined with the pancetta, each spoonful was an opportunity for the individual flavors to marry in your mouth – and a wonderful marriage it was.

Mains

Agnolotti – $12

Palo Agnolotti

These half-moons were stuffed with butternut squash, topped with a dollop of mozzarella and amaretti crumbles, and finished with basil and a sage-browned butter. Between the squash and the amaretti they were just a tiny bit sweet, and this was balanced by the mild flavor of the mozzarella.

Paccheri – $19

Palo Paccheri

This lamb ragu was rich and meaty, with the expected notes of red wine and tomato. It was very filling – if I hadn’t been sharing I might have been too full to move on after this dish.

Piquant Dover Sole – $32

Palo Piquant Dover Sole

This lovely piece of sole arrived at our table as a whole fish, and was filleted and plated tableside by our waiter. It’s lightly breaded – just a touch – and sprinkled with capers, anchovies, and sun-dried tomatoes. Sole is a very mild-flavored fish, and it can be difficult to dress it up without obscuring it. Here, the tangy, salty flavors of the toppings were a good match for the fish, and the accompanying vegetables were also perfectly cooked and seasoned. It might appear to you that everything on this plate is glistening. I won’t lie, there was no shortage of the nut-browned butter, but it really helped to marry the dish and it didn’t feel heavy.

Fried Yukon Potato (side) – $4

Palo Fried Yukon Potato

Reading the menu one might be tempted to think these were french fries. They’re not. The outsides are definitely fried, but not crunchy, and the insides are smooth and creamy. The parmesan and rosemary sprinkled over the top was all the dressing they needed. If I had a quibble about this dish, it was the size. These sides are meant to be shared, but it might be nice to be able to order a single serving if you are with a smaller group.

Whipped Yukon Gold Potato Puree (side) – $4

Palo Whipped Yukon Gold potato puree

This was a lovely mashed potato dish. I have to be honest though, in the moment I felt it was a mistake. Not because they weren’t excellent mashed potatoes – they were – but because there were so many more yummy things to eat at this meal that it felt criminal to spend my limited stomach space on the mashed potatoes. Your mileage (and love for mashed potatoes) may vary.

Desserts

Chocolate Souffle – $10

Palo Chocolate Souffle

This is a Palo classic, and it was easy to see why it’s so well-loved. A rich chocolate souffle, perfectly not-too-sweet, with vanilla creme anglaise and chocolate sauce poured into the center. 10/10, would eat again. And again. And again.

Amaretto Souffle – $10

Palo Amaretto Souffle

If you’re not a chocolate lover, the amaretto souffle is a good alternative. Even if you are a chocolate lover, you might give this one a go; it had a lovely almond flavor and was light and airy, somehow managing to be much less rich than the chocolate souffle despite the similarities.

Limoncello Tart – $10

Palo Limoncello Tart

This was the one sour note in our meal. The second of the two desserts from the prix fixe menu, I found the texture to be overly dense and while I could taste the limoncello, it wasn’t really the forward flavor that I wanted to find here.

Post-dinner Refresher – Included

Palo After Dinner refresher

Our meal closed out with an included citrusy sorbet drink.

The Conclusion

There’s no question that Palo isn’t as much of a steal as it used to be. Many of these dishes used to be on the all-you-can-eat menu, for the same $45 that only covers the prix fixe today. Nonetheless, I think it’s still worth it for three reasons.

First, everything we had was outstanding, whether it was similar to a prix fixe dish or not. Even if we had stuck to the prix fix I would have regarded the meal as an excellent value compared to what I’d pay for the same food in my area. And given the quality of what we ate, I have no reason to expect that the prix fix meal would have been less of an experience.

Second, we spent a total of $141 on food for two people, or about $70 each. While that’s clearly more expensive than sticking to the prix fixe, it’s still a very good price compared to what I would pay for a meal like this at home.

Third, it felt like treating ourselves. We always enjoy the rotational dining rooms, but Palo was “fine dining” where the regular dining rooms are just “nice”. If you’ve brought yourself on a Disney cruise for some R&R and a little pampering, Palo is a splurge that’s still a good value, and that’s hard to beat.

 

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Jennifer Heymont

Jennifer Heymont has a background in math and biology, but since she couldn't pick between the two she ended up in Data Science where she gets to do both. She lives just north of Boston with her husband, kids, and assorted animal members of the family. Although it took three visits for the Disney bug to "take", she now really wishes she lived a lot closer to the Parks.

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