We’d like to introduce you to two of our newest friends in Disney Springs: Maria & Enzo!
Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante is the table service component of a trio of brand new Italian eateries in Disney Springs, along with Enzo’s Hideaway Tunnel Bar (which will open soon) and the already open Pizza Ponte.
These three restaurants, run by the Patina Restaurant Group, are part of the complete complex of The Edison. Though the three are bound together by location, atmosphere, and story, each presents its own take on Italian cuisine.
We were able to attend a Sneak Peek Media Event, which included a dedication for Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante.
The Ristorante will be open to guests soon (a full opening is anticipated by January 10th, though soft openings may precede). But just after the Media Event, the full menu was open for the evening. So today, we’re excited to bring you both a First Look AND a full review!
According to the aforementioned story, Maria & Enzo’s is set in a 1930s abandoned airline terminal in a Florida waterfront town (that’s Disney Springs, of course). Lending a hand to Maria and Enzo these days is Chef Theo Schoenegger, Executive Chef of the Ristorante and Ezno’s Hideaway Tunnel Bar. Known for his culinary work at San Domenico in New York City and more recently for Sinatra in Las Vegas, Chef Schoenegger brings the spotlight to Sicilian cuisine at Maria & Enzo’s.
Let’s see what Maria and Enzo have to offer…
Maria and Enzo, an immigrant couple from Italy, ran a bakery in what was once the Air Terminal for Disney Springs. When the terminal closed, Maria & Enzo opened a pizza-by-the-slice shop by the name of Pizza Ponte. That business venture was so successful in the town of Disney Springs that it allowed Maria and Enzo to purchase the closed air terminal and transform it into Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante.
The couple clearly decided that “air terminal” was the look they were going for, because the space still celebrates the Golden Age of Travel — beginning with the “Passenger Check-in”!
The grand staircase leads to the main dining room which continues to showcase the the 50-foot ceilings of what was formerly the terminal lobby.
According to the story, these are the same windows that Clippers (large sea planes) flew into during the heyday of the Golden Age of Travel, and they still make the most of the Lake Buena Vista views.
Only these days, you can watch the Aerophile ballon take flight!
The Art Deco style remains intact, and elements of the former terminal still exist (you can still see the gate numbers surrounding the main dining room).
The circular ceiling continues to display an Art Deco mural that highlights various cities in celebration of travel.
In the center hangs a silver globe which offers a bit of Disney whimsy by highlighting the geographic points for Disney World, Disneyland, and Marceline, Missouri (Walt Disney’s childhood home and inspiration for Main Street, U.S.A.).
The entire Ristorante brings to mind a bygone era when traveling was an occasion to be marked with dressing up in the finest clothes. (But don’t worry — theme park gear is welcome here.) And music further sets the scene, with a mixture of Italian music and artists like Frank Sinatra and Doris Day playing in the background.
Of course, Maria and Enzo did need to make a few additions; among them, seating for the diners!
The tables and booth settings include bright red napkins, which nicely accent all the color in the room.
Up the stairs from the main dining room is the First Class Lounge.
You can make a request to be seated there if you’d like.
But — and this is pretty sweet — just like in real life, some guests may be “bumped up” to First Class from time to time!
First Class perks include a complimentary glass of Prosecco for adults, and Wings pins for the kiddos!
The Ristorante really is stunning, making the most of the 1930s travel theme and combining it with the views and setting of modern-day Disney Springs.
Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante serves Southern Italian cuisine.
The Media Event gave us the opportunity to view the menu and sample some of the Sicilian cuisine of Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante. We’ll be interspersing those offerings from the event as we show you the full menu. (Scroll down to see full restaurant portions ordered and paid for by the DFB.)
Disney fans may know the inspiration behind the quotes on some of the artwork on the menu!
Below is the Antipasti (small plates) and Zuppa (soup) menu for starters.
The Salumi e Formaggi offerings feature Prosciutto di Parma.
The Prosciutto may be ordered individually or as part of the Chef’s Selection of 3 cured meats and cheeses for dinner (or 2 of each at lunch).
The housemade Paste choices include Rigatoni alla Norma.
And, just for fun, check out the GIGANTIC bowl of Spaghetti in honor of both the new restaurant and National Spaghetti Day, which just so happened to fall in line with the day of the dedication!
Here is a look at the Steaks, Chops, and Fish menu, along with the Parmigiana.
The sweet Dolci options include Cannoli.
And we also got to enjoy some Tiramisu.
The apertif and cocktail offerings include a selection of variations on Negroni cocktails.
Classic Cocktails include a Sicilian Mule and a Manhattan via Milano.
The Giardino Punch and Roman Sangria are family-style drinks serving three to five guests.
The Wine List is both impressive and extensive. It represents Italy’s wine regions and offers over 100 selections. And you may be interested to know that Maria & Enzo’s has acquired the sommelier from Epcot’s Tutto Gusto.
First are the By the Glass selections.
And, of course, the By the Bottle. (As with all the menu pictures in this post, click on the image to enlarge for easier reading.)
But it’s not just all wine at Maria & Enzo’s… here’s the Birra list!
Non-alcoholic beverages are available as well. I love that the Mocktails include a Seasonal Limonata, though I would probably opt for the blood orange Sicilian Blush.
Smaller aviators (shout out to Soarin’!) can enjoy a fun presentation for their menu.
They can see their choices after unfolding the paper.
And their meals are served on trays, in keeping with the theme!
Food shown above was part of a Disney World Media Event. You can see more in our…
Full Portion Meal — Ordered and Paid For by DFB
Again, after the Media Event, we were able to return to Maria & Enzo’s to select from the full menu. With the regular meals (Maria & Enzo’s will be open for lunch and dinner), bread service is included.
It’s continually distributed around the room throughout the meal, so you can always ask for more, if you like!
The crusty Italian bread is meant to be enjoyed with the Olive Oil sitting on the tables.
Even so, we chose an appetizer: the Caciocavallo Fritto.
These balls of fried Sicilian cheese are served with a spicy tomato and pomodoro sauce.
We really enjoyed the Caciocavallo Fritto. The dry, but still very creamy, cheese had a really unique flavor, and the spicy sauce put it over the top. My recommendation? See if you can request a side of it to dip your bread in, even if you don’t order the Caciocavallo Fritto!
I also ordered a Green Gin Smash from the Classic Cocktails.
Hendricks Gin is paired with Ancho Reyes Verde and lime, simple syrup, basil, and cucumber for a spicy-meets-fresh flavor.
I chose my entree — the N’Casciata al Forno — from the Pasta menu.
This layered baked pasta dish is made with a meat ragu, peas, LOTS of zucchini, and the same caciocavallo cheese from our appetizer.
The zucchini layered on the top led me to think the dish would be really heavy on the veggies, but upon digging in the dish is quite meaty and savory. I appreciated the zucchini more as I ate, as it added a nice texture, giving the lasagna a little crisp. And here is a look at the varieties of pasta inside.
It’s definitely a heavy dish (in a good way), with a bit of zest to it, and I really enjoyed it.
Finally, for dessert, I went with the Cassata Siciliana, a traditional Sicilian ricotta layered sponge cake, only with a colorful twist.
Mildly sweet and with a light texture, it’s served with a dollop of cream nicely dotted with vanilla beans.
And it was a lovely way to end our first meal at Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante!
Nosh or Not?
You might want to fly into Maria & Enzo’s if:
- You want to experience the Table Service component of this new trio of Italian eateries.
- You are a fan of any of the following: cool theming, good Italian food, or a solid wine list.
- You are taken in by terrific waterfront views. (Granted, you can get those in a lot of Disney Springs dining spots these days, but the windows in here are pretty killer.)
You might want to pass on visiting Maria & Enzo if:
- You prefer other Disney Italian restaurants and would like to return to them rather than try a new one.
- You’re fine with Italian food but have limited time and would rather explore Enzo’s Hideaway Tunnel Bar or grab a quick bite at Pizza Ponte.
- You are already overwhelmed by all the great dining choices that have already come to Disney Springs and are having a hard time narrowing your choice down as it is. Things sure have changed around here, my friends!
I must admit… I had the same thought I mentioned above in the “Not” section. I was pretty confident that there were enough Italian eateries in Disney World as it is (with more coming yet to Disney Springs), so when I heard the original concept for Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante, I was skeptical. But the theming is good here and we enjoyed the meal. Is it our new favorite? Not yet. We’ll probably visit a few more times and see how we feel then. Stay tuned.
Again, Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante is not yet fully operational, and our understanding is that they are aiming for January 10th to be entirely open to the public. But you can make reservations via OpenTable for dates on or after January 15th now, in case you like what you’ve seen here and wish to experience for yourself.
And don’t forget… this isn’t Enzo’s only gig in town. So…
Let us know what you think so far!
Are you adding Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante to your list of Must-Try Restaurants in Disney Springs? Please let us know with a comment!
Disclosure: In nearly all circumstances, Disney Food Blog writers and photographers pay full price for their own travel, hotel, food, beverage, and event tickets. We do this because it’s important to us as journalists to ensure not only that we give you unbiased opinions, but also that you can trust us to do so since we’re paying our own way. On rare occasions, when we are invited by a company to attend a preview as media, and when we choose to accept that invitation, we will always make you, our readers, aware of that situation. Today, we were invited by Disney World to attend their media preview of Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante. Note that when we attend events as media we are 1) Not required to review that event/food on any of our channels, and 2) Not required to review that event/food favorably. You can always count on DFB to give you a 100% unbiased and honest review of any event that we attend, food that we eat, or beverage that we drink. You can see more in our Disclosure Policy. Thank you for reading. — AJ