Spices. Bold flavors. Omg these ribs have changed my life. These were my immediate thoughts upon trying the new menu from Confisco Grille in Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Located near the front of the park, Confisco Grille is the perfect place to escape the crowds and enjoy lunch or dinner. It features an eclectic menu, ripe with a variety of dishes inspired from across the globe.
I recently got invited to try the new dishes and chat with the culinary mastermind who created them, Executive Chef Jason Glus. Here are the juicy details.
Pork Belly Banh-Mi Sandwich
My foodie adventure started with this hearty sandwich. It comes with thick cuts of perfectly cooked pork belly and a blend of fresh veggies. I also have a feeling that chile aioli sauce can make anything taste good.
Roasted pork belly, pickled carrots, daikon radish and cucumber topped with a chile aioli on a French baguette.
Chilled Tuna Noodle Bowl
This light and refreshing dish is for you if you’re feeling a bit guilty from fried food and ice cream. I can see this becoming a signature dish and it happens to be one of Chef Glus’s favorites.
“The Chilled Tuna Noodle Bowl is a good one, with the fresh ingredients yellowfin tuna and buckwheat soba noodles,” says Chef Glus. “You can’t find anything else like this park-wide except for at Confisco.”
Sesame seared yellowfin tuna, soba noodles, green onion, avocado, edamame, cucumber and a wasabi-ponzu dressing.
Hearthstone Baked Chicken Sandwich
This isn’t your typical chicken sandwich. It’s baked in a wood oven with melted mozzarella cheese and have I mentioned Universal bakes its bread on property? Delicious!
Mozzarella cheese, Roma tomatoes, leaf lettuce, basil aioli, aged balsamic and focaccia baked in a wood oven.
To be honest, I almost got full eating all of the hummus – it was that good! And that lavosh it comes with *chef’s kiss*. I’d highly recommend this one if you’re looking for a snack. Confisco regulars will be happy to know it’s still the classic hummus recipe, but with a new look.
“It’s that same flavorful hummus you could get before but with an elevated presentation,” says Chef Glus. “It makes it more shareable and a more immersive experience for the guest.”
Middle Eastern flavored hummus, kalamata olives, olive oil and charred pita and lavosh for dipping.
Grilled Lamb Meatballs
Didn’t think you could find lamb in a theme park, did ya? These were perfect to share and packed with flavor.
Grilled spiced lamb meatballs with tzatziki sauce, tomato-cucumber relish, feta cheese and mint chimichurri.
Sweet and Sour Sticky Ribs
Thank you, Chef Glus, for keeping this one on the menu.
“We wanted to keep the ribs, but we changed it up a bit going with the sticky pork ribs with the sweet and sour sauce,” he says.
Perfectly cooked with meat falling off the bone and smothered in a sweet and sour sauce that left me licking it off my fingers. AND I can’t forget to mention the bed of creamy and cheesy polenta goodness the ribs are nestled on. The flavors combine to create a tangy party for your taste buds that will leave you wanting more with every bite. Can you tell this was my favorite?
Philippine-inspired smoked pork ribs tossed in a sweet and sour sauce, goat cheese polenta and topped with toasted sesame seeds.
If you’re more of a traditionalist then an adventurer — I got you and so do the chefs at Confisco. You can still find classics like the juicy Confisco Burger, sizzling Port of Entry Fajitas, and Trader Wings.
But even the dishes that you’ve seen before have a new twist, Chef Glus explains. “The menu items we did keep, we changed up the presentation. If you’re going to elevate the food, you need to elevate the overall experience.”
Now, let’s focus on dietary needs for a hot minute. The Universal Orlando Food & Beverage team goes above and beyond to accommodate any request. At Confisco, you’ll find plant-based dishes, gluten-free options, and more.
Want tofu on that Chilled Tuna Noodle Bowl? Done. Got a question about if the noodles on the Pad Thai are gluten-free? You can ask your waiter to speak with a chef, who will literally come to your table and answer any questions you may have. Oh, and yes. Those rice noodles on the Pad Thai are gluten-free.
You can find the full menu online and call (407) 224-FOOD to inquire about dietary accommodations ahead of your visit.
Serving Up Adventure for 20 Years
First time hearing of Confisco? Then you’ve been missing out. This hidden gem has been hiding out in plain sight since Islands of Adventure opened in 1999. This restaurant has served as a resting spot for all explorers coming through Port of Entry. Their worldwide travels have served as the main inspiration for the menu.
“The story behind Confisco connects to Port of Entry, which is exciting because it gives us a mixture of global cuisines to work with,” says Chef Glus. “There’s Asian influence, Turkish, Mediterranean, Greek, Russian, Polish and more.”
It’s no cakewalk to bring these dishes to life. It takes time for the team to research and bring the concepts to life.
“It took us months of researching all these different flavors and spices,” Chef Glus explains. “Even looking back to the 17th and 18th centuries and seeing how dishes were cooked then — in wood ovens and cazuela pots, which we use to cook here in the restaurant.”
And while you’re enjoying your meal, you can discover the mysterious artifacts and treasures the explorers have left behind in Confisco. You may recognize some of the “confiscated” goods.
Elevating Your Dining Experience
One of the common themes I hooked into while speaking with Chef Glus was “elevating” Universal’s dining experience. So, my big question. Why now?
“Our guests are asking for this. They want more than just the pretzels and fried food. We’re bringing different dishes and ingredients to the parks that you can’t find anywhere else throughout Universal,” Chef Glus explains.
As a new mom to a six-month-old, I had to know about the kids menu. There has to be more than chicken fingers in my future.
“We’re looking at ways to elevate the kids menu so there are more diverse and healthy options,” says Chef Glus. “Nowadays we see kids eating what their parents are eating, so why not throw sushi on the kids menu. We’re also focusing on the food carts and bringing in new and healthier options there, too.”
With 10 years of experience here at Universal (and a short hiatus in local Orlando restaurants), Chef Glus brings both a seasoned and fresh perspective to Universal’s dining. “I love working here and being able to play around the park and do new and different things for our guests to enjoy.”
Keep your eye out for new things to come from Chef Jason Glus and his team in Islands of Adventure.
What Confisco dishes do you recommend or are looking forward to trying? Share in the comments below.
Location: Port of Entry, Universal’s Islands of Adventure
Open: 11 a.m. – Park Close (times vary to park hours)
Universal Dining Plan – Yes!