I’ve dined at lots of Disney restaurants. Some, like Liberty Tree Tavern, I visit because they’re convenient: there simply isn’t enough air conditioned sit-down service in the Magic Kingdom. Others, like San Angel Inn, I visit for the memories.
And then there’s Kouzzina.
Opened in August 2009 on Disney’s Boardwalk, Cat Cora’s ode to slightly-Americanized Greek food is one of my top three favorite restaurants at Disney World. As in, when I am booking a trip and looking for a sit-down spot to get a delicious breakfast, this is the restaurant I turn to.
Like any other table service eatery on property, you can expect Disney-level service and yummy food options. So what makes Kouzzina standout?
First, no matter when I visit, the space feels cozy and warm. It’s packed with comfy seats and tables that are awash with warm light, and the bottles on display set a gentle glow over everything. It’s almost homey, made ever moreso by the jovial shouting and clanging coming from the open show kitchen.
The second? It’s an original. Like my other favorites—The Wave and Olivia’s—the menu at Kouzzina is loaded with unique and delicious twists on standard breakfast fare. Don’t get me wrong: I love a breakfast skillet, but I can get a breakfast skillet at my local diner.
At Kouzzina, your skillet is loaded with peppers, Greek cheese and arugula. You can order sweet potato hash instead of home fries. Your classic waffle is topped with mascarpone and honey. And the toast? Forget white, wheat or rye. You get grilled fig and anise bread. Dinner is no slouch, either. Where else on property can you get spanakopita? Flamed Greek cheese? Or tender and juicy lamb burgers (that won’t cost you an arm and a leg or two table service credits)?
Sure, it’s not as popular with the kids as Chef Mickey’s or as hot-a-ticket as Le Cellier. But that’s part of the appeal. Kouzzina was almost never overbooked. And it was rarely so crowded as to be too loud (and in that cavernous space, it does get loud when the seats are filled). Because even though there’s a Food Network star’s name on the marquee, Kouzzina has always remained a diamond in the Disney World rough.
That’s why I was sad when the Greek eatery closed its doors for good earlier this week.
Yes, I am excited to experience Trattoria Al Forno (the pizza restaurant that replaces Kouzzina in December), and I’m even more excited to eat breakfast at Flying Fish Café (the Boardwalk spot that’s opening its doors for breakfast while Trattoria Al Forno is closed for refurb). But to be honest, we already have Via Napoli. We certainly don’t need another overpriced pizza place at Disney World. (Even if Trattoria’s chefs will be making their own mozzarella.)
So, while I’ll probably have a slice of pizza, I’m sure it won’t be the same. And—even if it is—I’ll never be able to quite forget that Kalamata olive toast.