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Islands of Adventure – Port of Entry: Confisco Grille

What: Full-service restaurant with flair
Where: On the waterfront plaza
Price Range: $$ - $$$

The simple wooden chairs are painted green and blue and there are no tablecloths. But don’t let the casual atmosphere fool you. Confisco Grille is a full-service sit-down restaurant that serves up a limited but imaginative menu that draws on far-flung culinary influences.

Part of the fun is the decor, vaguely Mediterranean with Turkish accents, that asks you to imagine you are in the Port of Entry Customs House. The place is lit by hanging lamps in a variety of styles and decorated with bizarre items, like a stegosaurus skull, confiscated from would-be smugglers.

But the real fun is the food. The Adventure Starters ($5 to $10) are described on the menu as “a perfect way to start your adventure.” Take the hint and treat the table to nachos or Confisco Fries, which are served with a variety of dipping sauces. Also worth noting in this section of the menu is the Explorer’s Vegetable Pizza, which crowns the Italian favorite with a medley of healthful toppings.

Burgers are done well here, too, with the bacon cheddar version a standout. Other sandwich choices ($9 to $11) include a toasted Italian ciabatta, a Tex Mex wrap, and a club sandwich. Entrees and pastas ($12 to $18) are a mixed bag, with the House Specialty Pad Thai noodles a bit on the bland side, but the Penne Puttanesca is worth trying. Entree-sized salads ($11) get high marks, too. Wines are served by the glass and the bottle. Kids can order from the “Little Travelers Menu” ($6 to $7).

Don’t forget to leave room for one of the desserts, because they are terrific. The selection changes from time to time, but recent offerings included strawberry cheesecake, tiramisu, and a yummy chocolate banana bread pudding, served with vanilla ice cream (all around $5).

Perfect for lunch, Confisco might make a good choice for a light dinner on days when the park is open late. (Check Confisco’s closing time on your way in. It’s been known to close earlier than the park itself.)

The adjacent Backwater Bar is too upscale to be a perfect replica of the kind of tropical dive where lonely adventurers come to drink away their memories of that low-down cheap saloon singer they loved and lost in Rangoon, but it will do in a pinch. It also makes a convenient staging area for those waiting for a table in Confisco, not to mention those who see no reason to interrupt their drinking with food. While the bar itself is small, there’s a large outdoor seating area, a great place to survey the passing scene while getting a buzz on. Daily happy hour (4:00 to 7:00 p.m.) includes discount sangria.

Note: Confisco offers a Character Breakfast featuring Spider-Man, Cat in the Hat, and other characters, along with a very nice breakfast buffet from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m. ($18 adults, $12 children) on most Sundays and Thursdays, though the schedule varies seasonally. For more information about what’s happening during your visit or to make reservations call (407) 224-4012 or email diningreservations@universalorlando.com.

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Universal Orlando 2011

 

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