Lasagna, ravioli, rigatoni ~ OH, MY!!! Oh, yes ~ I am all about a good, hearty Italian dish! I mean, who isn’t, right? Of course, while Italian eateries are not hard to come by in most areas, it can be difficult to find one with authentic Italian cuisine. Disney Springs is home to the Italian trattoria Maria & Enzo’s, which serves up Southern Italian favorites day in and day out. With summer quickly approaching, the restaurant is showcasing a few of their pasta dishes with a celebration called Pasta Palooza! So, if you love pasta of ANY kind, you are going to want to make reservations ~ and quickly!
I was invited as media to attend this dining event. All opinions are mine and mine alone. This post does contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure policy for more information.
Maria & Enzo’s Restaurant in Disney Springs
Let’s talk restaurant theme for a moment…
Maria & Enzo’s draws its inspiration from a combination of the cuisines from Sicily and Rome, as well as the Italian family and the best of Italian modern cooking. The venue is designed to resemble a 1930s abandoned airline terminal that has been transformed into a family restaurant. Guests are welcomed into an open dining room featuring a grand staircase, 50-foot ceilings and picturesque views of Lake Buena Vista. The Disney Aerophile sits right behind the restaurant and is a fun watch for those sitting near the spectacular windows.
The interior of the restaurant reflects the golden age of travel and Guests can find artifacts, maps and historic flight paths as they walk through the venue and even more while they dine. (See below for some fun facts about the decor)
What to expect on the menu
The family-friendly menu features Roman and Sicilian-inspired dishes ranging from antipasti to a variety of cured meats, imported Italian cheeses and salads (I’m a huge fan of their Caesar salad!! Yum!!). They also offer house-made and imported Italian pastas, fresh fish, richly flavored aged steaks and chops.
Some of the family-friendly options include:
- Arancini di Carne (rice balls stuffed with meat)
- Melanzane Parmigiana (eggplant Parmesan)
- Busiate con Granchio (spiral pasta with crab)
- Ncasciata al Forno (Sicilian baked pasta – served tableside).
I am honestly all about the Arancini di Carne!! It’s one of my favorite appetizers EVER!
Of course, one cannot forget to mention the exclusive selection of Italian wines that can only be found at the restaurant. (Psst – the Prosecco is good, too…wink, wink)
|Curious what else is on the current menus? Click the appropriate link to find out what else is being served:|
What about the bambinos?
The littles are offered a menu that includes selections from “Maria’s Flight School Meal.” The younger palates have the opportunity to choose a starter, an entree, a dessert and a beverage from a designated list for what is now priced at $12. Entree offerings include favorites such as penne & butter, a slice of pizza, chicken tenders and fried potatoes, or the traditional spaghetti and meatball (it’s hard to go wrong there!).
Each kid’s menu comes with activities on one side to occupy them while the adults chit chat.
In the evening, the restaurant welcomes a variety of entertainment to keep the Guests smiling and intrigued. From a violinist who knows all the Disney favorites (as well as Harry Potter themes, Baby Shark and The Devil Went Down To Georgia) to a balloon artist on stilts, each night is filled with wonder and amazement while Guests feast on authentic Italian cuisine.
Let’s Celebrate With Pasta Palooza!!
For the months of May, June and July, Maria & Enzo’s will showcase three of its rich and hearty pasta dishes for Guests. To kick things off, they invited a small group of media to experience a culinary demonstration, learn about the authenticity of the ingredients and the recipe for May, and dive into the history of the dish, as well as its place in Italian heritage.
You guessed it, I was one of the lucky few fortunate enough to be invited!
We were introduced to Chef Charlie Restivo, a first generation Italian American whose parents came straight from Sicily to Queens. Growing up in New York, Chef Charlie fell in love with pizza and had his first jobs in delis and pizza parlors. As he presented himself front and center to our group, he talked us through the preparation of May’s pasta dish, Lasagna Verde, with confidence and pride.
People, this is not your grandmother’s lasagna!
Chef Charlie took the time to show us how they make the herbaceous pasta with a dough that gets its vibrant green undertones from the fresh spinach folded into it. In addition, Chef shared secrets about preparing the meat ragù, as well as how to add in the bećhamel (instead of ricotta), tomato and mozzarella to make this the perfect Italian comfort dish.
“The signature pasta dishes that we serve at Maria & Enzo’s are so delicious and unique because of the authenticity of ingredients that we use. We go the extra mile to source our pasta from The Gentile Pasta Factory, founded in 1876, in Gragnano, Italy because it’s made using 100% Italian semolina wheat and a low-temperature natural air-drying method that pasta-makers pioneered in the sixteenth century.” – Kyle Collins, Marketing Director of Patina Restaurant Group
Chef Charlie Tip #1: Prep your lasagna in stages. For example, prepare the dough and ragù one day, put the dish together the next.
We were treated to a full meal with a menu that included:
- Salumi E Formaggi
- Gamberoni E Pancetta
- Lasagna Verde
- Cannoli & Coffee
The bubbly was delightful and every course spectacularly delicious. No one walked away hungry and every palate left completely satisfied. Each course was explained to us in detail and served with a beaming smile. In fact, one server, Phil, delivered an extra dose of happy with each appearance he made. Though only into his second month of waiting tables, he had a natural joy about him that made us feel extremely comfortable and welcomed. (If you visit, ask for Phil!!)
Chef Charlie Tip #2 ~ Parmesan goes into EVERY layer of lasagna. EVERY SINGLE LAYER!
Pasta Palooza doesn’t stop with May!
Maria & Enzo’s will be highlighting a different pasta dish each month until the end of July. These are entrees normally on the menu, but are just receiving an extra dose of attention over the summer. While Lasagna Verde is being featured for the month of May, Maria & Enzo’s will be showcasing their Spaghetti Allas Chitarra Con Polpette and Ravioli Ala Tre Formaggi for the months of June and July, respectively.
No joke ~ my mouth started watering as soon as I started to type this out. I should not have written this on an empty stomach!
Food Allergy Information
I had the chance to chat with Chef Charlie for a short bit during our event. He confirmed that the pasta they use is not made on the premises and does contain egg. They do, however, have a gluten-free pasta AND usually carry a packaged pasta in-house that does not contain egg (he named DiCecco, which I know we have used safely for our severely egg allergic son). As always, you need to be sure to talk to the Chef when you arrive so that you can effectively communicate your dietary situation and restrictions with him explicitly. Pasta is a fickle fellow when it comes to allergies and no one wants ANYONE to suffer an unwarranted reaction.
Chef Charlie Tip #3: Once baked, let the lasagna sit for an hour before diving in. It allows the flavors to marry, so to speak.
Will I go Back?
So, I confess that this was not my first time to the restaurant. In fact, the initial visit was not all that magical. Everybody has a bad day now and then and I think our server was either new or just not up to the challenge of a larger party at the moment. Needless to say, when we notified the manager personally, she was all about making it right. We were grateful for that.
This time, we saw a packed house in the dining room with smiles all around. The entertainment was mingling with Guests and our event went off without a hitch. I would definitely take my family to this venue and look forward to enjoying the other pasta dishes that Maria & Enzo’s will be showcasing over the summer.
Have you been to Maria & Enzo’s in Disney Springs? If so, do you remember what you had? I’d love to hear what you thought about the venue below in the comments!
MARIA & ENZO’S
Hours of Operation:
- 11:30 am – 12 am everyday (Monday / Tuesday / Wednesday kitchen closes at 10 pm)
- 11:30 am – 4 pm (brunch only on Saturday & Sunday – open for dinner @ 4:30pm on those 2 days only
- Pollo Alla Parmigiana
- Lasagna Verde
- Rigatoni Alle Verdure
- Gamberoni e Pancetta
- Annual Passholder ~ 10% (15% during lunch)
- Disney Vacation Club ~ 10%
- Cast Member ~ 20%
- Tables in Wonderland ~ 20%
- They do participate in the Disney Dining Plan and Disney Deluxe Dining Plan (1 dining credit per guest)
- Maria & Enzo strove to fulfill their ultimate dream – the restoration and transformation of the abandoned terminal hall itself into a celebration of travel, adventure and their true passion – Southern Italian cuisine.
- Notice the exceptional mural on the ceilings above that circles the terminal hall and the compass-globe at its center. They represent not only the exotic destinations once served by this location, but also the transportive nature of the journeys of that era where flights of imagination went hand in hand with the transport of passengers to distant lands. Geographically accurate, they pointed travelers in the direction of their journey and oriented them with imagery of what was to come.
- If you look closely, you can also find small markers to reflect locations of the Disney theme parks and even the location of Walt’s hometown of Marceline, Missouri.
- The extensive wine selection features over 100 bottles, hand-picked from travels around the globe.