Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante is the newest Italian table service eatery in Disney Springs. In this Walt Disney World restaurant review, we’ll share food photos, thoughts on the theme, our opinions on the cuisine, and whether Maria and Enzo’s is worth your time in the very competitive landscape of great dining at Disney Springs.
Located on the Landing nearby some of the heavy hitters of Walt Disney World dining, Mario & Enzo’s is actually situated in the same complex as the Edison (which we reviewed here), Pizza Ponte (review coming soon), and Enzo’s Hideaway Tunnel Bar and Restaurant. All connected internally and sharing a kitchen, these locations are all operated by Patina Restaurant Group.
While a more convoluted backstory undoubtedly exists, the premise of Maria & Enzo’s is that the founders have transformed an abandoned 1930s airline terminal at the edge of Disney Springs into an elegant restaurant. Even this story doesn’t make complete sense. If it’s abandoned and now transformed, why is everything in pristine condition? Why are the servers wearing flight attendant costumes? Why are posters on the outside weathered?
Honestly, we’re just thankful this isn’t another instance of a ridiculous and convoluted repurposing (but don’t worry–we’ll get to that with Enzo’s Hideaway Tunnels!).
The theme works at Maria & Enzo’s once you enter the building…and set aside the backstory. The design works because it’s organic, well-designed, and feels right.
The two-story rotunda of the main dining room at Maria & Enzo’s is absolutely gorgeous, with a beautiful mural showcasing destinations to which this airport would have flown, and posters belonging to airlines and destinations of the era.
Art Deco and Streamline Moderne design choices reinforce the theme, and culminate in a classy environment that makes you feel like a jet-setter ready to board Pan Am’s next flight to Cuba.
I really liked the ‘reveal’ of going from the relatively spartan “passenger check-in” desk to entering this rotunda on its second story.
It’s something of a wow moment, and the first impression this large rotunda makes when you walk into the restaurant never really wears off.
Beyond that, Maria & Enzo’s is airy, with a simplified design that amplifies the Art Deco/Moderne flourishes. This light style is not to say the restaurant is “bare bones” thematically.
To the contrary, I found the main dining room struck the perfect balance between detail and straight-forward design. It stays out of its own way, and is perfect as a result.
The purported “First Class Lounge” is another matter entirely. While we (thankfully) were not seated in there, I wandered around for a bit and left unimpressed. Perhaps those obsessed with status will prefer it, but if this stark room was instead labelled “Converted Administrative Office for Overflow Seating Lounge” I’d find it just as believable of a premise. Nothing says “First Class” like large industrial doors!
Now let’s turn to the food at Maria & Enzo’s. We enjoyed lunch here with our friends Jenny and Adam, the brains behind the smash sensation, Burke Head Toys…
We’ll start with the bread service. Dipped into the olive oil on the table, this was good. Nothing to rave about, but fresh and good quality.
While our service at Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante was generally great, one thing that was slightly annoying was that we had to request bread service from the roaming bread server twice. (An experience that seemed consistent with tables around ours.) We mention this not to knock the restaurant, but so you know you shouldn’t be shy asking for bread if you want it.
For our first appetizer, we had the Arnacini di Carne. This is a traditional dish consisting of fried rice stuffed with meat ragu, peas, and mozzarella.
None of us were impressed by this. The emphasis here is on the rice, with the mozzarella providing most of the flavor. It’s light on meat to the point that I’d believe you if you told me it was a vegetarian dish. It seemed nicely prepared in terms of the exterior texture and being cooked to perfection, but missed on the flavor for us.
By contrast, the fried calamari with hot peppers, spicy tomato, and garlic aioli sauce was an absolute home run.
As I’ve said in countless reviews, I’m a sucker for calamari. I’ve never had calamari that I actually disliked, with good to great being my personal range for calamari. With that said, this dish exceeded the great end of that range.
The squid was incredibly tender, which stood out because the batter was light. This batter also scores incredibly high marks for us. It had the perfect consistency, and offered a mild, buttery flavor. We “joked” that we each should’ve ordered our own plates of calamari, but I’m honestly not sure anyone was actually kidding.
For my entree, I had the Spada, which is swordfish steak topped with salmoriglio sauce. It’s served with rosemary potatoes and tempura fried vegetables.
I loved this. The fish was wonderfully prepared–with a mild, fishy flavor and moist center plus a slight char on the exterior for texture–and a sizable portion of meat. The salmoriglio sauce was addictively good, too. Ditto the potatoes and tempura, both of which were slightly heavy-handed on the salt and seasoning. Still, I would order this again, without hesitation.
Sarah ordered the Rigatoni Alla Norma, consisting of eggplant, chile, tomato, and ricotta salata.
She absolutely loved it; the pasta had a nice texture and the tomatoes were flavorful, and it was surprisingly light for an Italian dish of this nature. I tried it and wasn’t quite as keen–I thought it was a bit too light, and the acidity of the tomatoes was not quite what I expected. (Perhaps it’s more a matter of expectations? I’m not sure.)
Jenny had the Busiata Con Granchio, which is spiral pasta, lump crab, yellow cherry tomato, and parsley.
I tried this, and what struck me most was the texture of the pasta, which was different from the norm, but in a good way. It was a denser pasta prepared al dente, and had good flavor. Even with a bit of crab, this is an almost $30 pasta dish, which makes it tough to recommend.
Adam had the N’Casciata Al Forno, which is classic sicilian layered baked pasta with meat ragù, peas, zucchini, and caciocavallo cheese. This is a dense dish reminiscent of lasagna, albeit with a bit more range and a certain freshness from the vegetables.
This was one of the dishes our server recommended; while it was good, it was also on the small side.
We almost skipped dessert entirely because we were eager to try the winter cakes at Amorette’s Patisserie, but we made a huge sacrifice and ordered one for you, dear readers, so you’re welcome for that.
We opted for the Affogato Di Vesuvio. This is crema gelato, espresso, chocolate whipped cream, white chocolate snow. Few desserts justify skipping Amorette’s, but this is definitely one of them. It was like a decadent symphony of flavors and textures, somehow managing to harmonize. It was also huge in size, so don’t be scared off by the higher price than the other desserts. It’s a must-have. (Spoiler: I also ate an entire cake myself at Amorette’s.)
While ordering, we felt each item was overpriced by a few dollars, and that’s accounting for the normal premium pricing of dining on-property at Walt Disney World. It didn’t seem particularly noteworthy as we ordered each item, but upon receiving the bill at the end, I did a bit of a double-take. Hopefully those prices become a bit more palatable once the restaurant starts accepting Annual Pass, Tables in Wonderland, etc., for discounts.
Overall, if you’re looking for authentic Italian cuisine in Disney Springs, Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante is your best option. When expanding that to all cuisines, would not put Maria & Enzo’s in the elite tier of Disney Springs dining, but it’s still a top 10 restaurant in the area. With an ever-increasing slate of dining options, that’s still pretty good, and the restaurant should be lauded for getting both theme and menu right. We loved the atmosphere of the main seating area, and I’d revisit it just for that, some calamari, and dessert. The only reason we’re not more enthusiastic about our recommendation is because of the price, and fact that there are so many great Disney Springs restaurants and so little time. (If Disney offered a small plates Disney Springs progressive dinner–a la this one–we’d totally be on board.)
Have you dined at Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante? Where does it rank in terms of Disney Springs dining for you? Have any favorite foods here? Anything you didn’t like? Are you interested in eating here on your next Walt Disney World vacation? Any questions? Hearing your feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts or questions below in the comments!