Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante opened back in January of this year in The Landing section of Disney Springs across from STK.
Brunch debuted here back on Easter Sunday and has continued being served each Sunday since, though the current buffet/entree hybrid service is a major departure from what was initially offered. Originally, the meal was buffet-only with a made-to-order omelet station, carving station with NY strip steak, and a number of entree-esque choices like braised chicken breast, lasagna, and stuffed meatballs, in addition to about 15 charcuterie selections and a number of salads and antipasti. Currently, brunch service is similar to the setup at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, where there’s a buffet of cold dishes to enjoy in front of the hot entrees being delivered to the table. These pictures are from June 17, 2018, so it should be a fresh look at what you can currently expect to see.
Praise be to competition. “Kids eat free” is something that you’d never see at the Downtown Disney of yesteryear, but with so many new restaurants arriving on the scene, many of which are very good, quality and pricing have improved considerably across the shopping and dining district. If you have kids under the age of ten, then Maria & Enzo’s brunch may be all the more attractive given the fact that you’ll be saving at least $10 per child versus taking them somewhere else.
Brunch will set you back $35/adult and $15/child (should you have more kids than adults or if the promotion should end). The “kids eat free” deal is currently advertised front and center on their website, so you might double check before you visit to make sure that it still appears if the offer is a make it or break it situation. “Endless Bellini or Mimosa” will set you back an additional $15/person. Note that unlike most Disney buffets, the non-alcoholic beverage is not included.
A selection of cocktails, mocktails, beers, Italian waters, sodas, and juices are offered. I’ll review many of these in a separate lunch/dinner review.
The wine list with a rare glimpse of my thumb. I like the Ornellaia Le Volte under the Toscana section, which retails for $30 and will set you back $68 here. The Lamole Chianti at $44 is also a very good value, retailing at Total Wine for $22. Compare that to the Cecchi Chianti that’s $14 at the store or $52 here.
During the day, Maria & Enzo’s is a bright and vibrant restaurant with a variety of seating options for those that prefer a booth or a table.
They should ask your table preference when you check-in, but I’d suggest requesting a table in the main dining room away from the windows. That will put you a comfortable distance away from what can be a hectic buffet serving area.
You probably don’t want to be sat in the “First Class Lounge,” either. That’s a windowless side room where that arrow’s pointing that’s an obvious attempt to increase capacity without much concern for the comfort of the guest. You may prefer that room if you’d like a little privacy, though, as it’s away from just about everyone else.
The restaurant shouldn’t seat anyone upstairs during brunch as you’d have to traverse the grand staircase each and every time you’re interested in loading up on more shrimp, but I’m not a big fan of sitting up there during regular lunch and dinner service either. You’ll have servers and staff constantly passing by to check on other tables. That feeling is mitigated a bit if you’re seated closer to the window.
The main takeaway here is that the restaurant’s atmosphere during brunch is a pleasant one. We were seated underneath that tree towards the bottom of the picture above and I felt like I had the place to myself, despite the restaurant being relatively crowded for Father’s Day. With the high ceilings, it’s not particularly loud, which is nice too. There’s a harp player intermittently serenading the room upstairs. It was fun to hear her takes on Disney classics along with contemporary hits and with each passing mimosa, she sounded that much better.
Your server will greet you and explain the brunch setup shortly after your party is seated. You’ll have an opportunity to place your drink order and select an entree.
Mimosas are pre-made and served from a variety of pitchers and carafes. I like my mimosas with just a little bit of orange juice “for color” and these were made with a lot more orange juice than that along with a lot more pulp than I like. But the orange juice tasted freshly squeezed and while the sparkling wine “felt” like it was on the flatter, less-bubbly side, the wine was present and the juice did a nice job of masking any unpleasantness from the alcohol. I also can’t tell you how many I had because my glass was never empty, despite my best efforts. So I’d say the $15 charge is more than fair – a mimosa will run you at least 10 bucks each anywhere else at Disney Springs, so it’s a real bargain to be able to put back as many as you want over the course of brunch. Our meal lasted almost exactly 100 minutes.
The “Bellini with White Peach Puree and Prosecco” was a little lighter, but the alcohol flavor was a lot more prominent. It’s a better choice if you don’t want to down 800 calories worth of orange juice, but it’s a less smooth drink than the Endless Mimosa. Still, a very good deal. It looked like about 75% of the adults at brunch were sipping one of the two of these drinks.
The buffet doesn’t offer an extravagant number of selections, but just about everything offered tasted great and was incredibly fresh. It’s always good when there’s more meat at the ready as two cast members are prepared with fresh cutting boards full of prosciutto and salami piccante out of frame on the right.
There’s even a man ready to place some mortadella on your plate while you wait in line. What a life.
The buffet starts with a large wheel of Pecorino Romano and what I think is Grana Pedana.
Either way, the cheeses are delicious and it’s fun to watch the cast member freshly chiseling away deliciousness throughout the meal.
A glimpse of what’s in store.
The Caprese Salad was light and flavorful with a variety of colorful, bright, ripe tomatoes and mozzarella with just a little bit of olive oil to help the salt and pepper stick. Simple and delicious.
The Pasta Salad carried a similar flavor with tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, mushrooms, and peppers with what tasted like a basil oil and a sprinkle of cheese. Light and fresh.
The Pizza didn’t look like much, but it was surprisingly good.
It’s a pretty big departure from what you’d expect from something like Via Napoli, but it had a really nice chew to it with a robust tomato flavor and a surprising flaky texture given how soft it was.
Considering this is advertised as the “Pizza Station,” I think those looking for heartier slices will be disappointed, but I felt like this worked well with the other items offered at the buffet. A big slice of pepperoni would fill you right up.
The Fennel and Orange Salad with Arugula and Celery Root has a nice crunch to it with the mixture of fennel, citrus, onion, and pistachio mingling together to create a really complex flavor that’s a little bit sweet, a little bit piquant, a little bit peppery, and a little bit salty. I would have liked more orange wedges, but this is a nice take on a Sicilian classic.
A standard Caesar Salad is offered with a few croutons and shaved parmesan.
Somewhat surprisingly, it was bread that they seemed to have the most trouble keeping in stock. It would have been nice if there was an expanded selection of pastries offered.
A basket of croissants is delivered to the table, which is welcome.
But there is plenty of buttery prosciutto, at least. And you can always revisit the meat man.
The Shrimp with Spicy Calabrian Cocktail Sauce (not pictured) were terrific – plump, flavorful shrimp with a deliciously fresh, spicy cocktail sauce. It was mildly annoying that they were peel-and-eat, – it’s an obvious ploy to try to get you to eat fewer of them, but it was easy to remove the shell and you can bet that the website was not deterred in the least. Those that like shrimp can do some real damage considering a shrimp cocktail with the equivalent of eight or nine of these would set you back $17 at Paddlefish or The Boathouse. I loaded up. They’re at least three times bigger than what Disney serves on its buffets these days.
And that’s that.
Again, we’re obviously not in Boma territory here, but that’s not exactly the point. I was quite satisfied with the options as far as a nice cold appetizer spread goes. It was exactly 37 minutes between the time that we put our orders in and when the entrees arrived, which was a solid chunk of time to enjoy the buffet. I was almost sad to be taken away from my shrimp, though.
The menu leads with what we thought was the best entree of the bunch in the “French Toast – Warm Berry Preserves, Whipped Mascarpone, Granola.” The bread was nice and fluffy with a light dusting of powdered sugar and a little bit of cinnamon underneath a generous amount of fresh, juicy berries. There’s a ton of decadent cream with a little bit of a vanilla flare and a heavy sprinkle of crunchy granola for a nice textural contrast to what was once probably dense bread.
The fruity syrup added even more of a rich, naturally sweet fruit flavor.
The “NY Strip Steak ‘n Eggs served Scrambled or Over Easy with Parm Roasted Potatoes” was just okay. Maria & Enzo’s version of scrambled eggs is incredibly runny by design, which isn’t to everyone’s tastes, with what can probably be described as mushy egg. Over easy may be the way to go unless the look of them is appetizing. The steak itself was on the tough and fatty side, but it was prepared to a nice medium with a smoky flavor. That’s probably in line with what you’d expect from a breakfast steak.
The Parm Roasted Potatoes were more of the same – very salty and not nearly as fresh-out-of-the-oven as you’d probably like. An okay accompaniment.
The “Farmstead Vegetable Frittata – Fingerling Potatoes, Asparagus, Forest Mushrooms, Tomato, Onion, Four Cheeses” “felt” like it was missing something that would have transformed it from a worthy side to the main event.
It was prepared really nicely, though – thick enough to be satisfying but not so much that it became spongy or laden with moisture, as is often the case. But it was pretty bland for a main course and would have probably worked better served with the steak. It’s probably a good thing that the mimosas weren’t a little stronger as I could see myself playing Frisbee with it around the restaurant. Never miss an opportunity to yell, “GO DEEP.”
The “Poached Hen Egg & Quinoa Kale Salad – Zucchini, Pepper, Asparagus, Green Beans, Tomatoes, Toasted Almonds, Avocado, Frisee, Citrus Vinaigrette” was a very fresh assortment of vegetables topped with a very delicate poached egg that made each bite that it touched a little creamier. The vinaigrette is really light here, which lets the natural flavors of the ingredients shine on their own. It wouldn’t be my choice for a morning brunch, but it was a delicious salad.
The “Spaghetti Alla Carbonara – Parmesan Cream Sauce, Poached Hen Eggs, Prosciutto de Parma” is obviously your Italian pasta selection and perhaps an odd choice for brunch. But “when in Rome.”
Maria & Enzo’s is operated by Patina, which also runs Tutto Italia and Via Napoli in Epcot, in addition to Enzo’s Hideaway, Pizza Ponte, The Edison, and Morimoto Asia here at Disney Springs. It’s a little suspect that they don’t make their own pasta at any of their Italian restaurants, which does some harm to what the kitchen sends out. Even Vivo over at Universal’s CityWalk makes all of their own pasta and they’re doing considerably less business than any of Patina’s operations here. Anyway, our Spaghetti was cooked a couple minutes short of al dente, which produced some very chewy strings and the little dab of Parmesan Cream Sauce didn’t do enough to cover up the processed quality of the pasta. The crunchy Prosciutto also added more salt than we would have liked without a satisfying, meaty bite. Overall, it was a disappointing dish, but it would also cost you $25 if you were to order a similar entree at Enzo’s Hideaway. So there’s that.
Overall, the entrees were “just okay” for the most part – satisfying without impressing. With the heaviness of the various meats, pasta, and shrimp at the buffet, the French Toast is your best bet I think. The Steak certainly works if you don’t mind a low-end, sirloin-quality hunk of beef and the Salad is smart if you’re looking to extend the options available at the buffet.
But we’re not done yet.
The impressive, towering chocolate fountain is the star of the show here.
It’s accompanied by ripe, juicy strawberries.
And fluffy marshmallows.
You could probably drizzle some on the Crisped Rice Treats.
Or these cookies.
For something a little lighter, these sweet blueberry muffins were tasty.
If by some non-miracle you’re not completely stuffed at this point, then you could go with one of these very dense, very chocolaty bars.
There’s also some crumbly cookie bar brownie things that are satisfyingly rich with a nice cookie flavor backed up by a lot of chocolate.
Another light choice, these Parfaits are a particularly good choice if you skipped the French Toast because the Berry Preserves on top are similar. Very cold and refreshing.
The Cannoli are on the disappointing side of the spectrum when they cost seven bucks next door at Pizza Ponte, but they’re certainly a sweet treat here when they’re included with the cost of brunch. Eat five and you could rationalize that you paid for brunch just like that.
Overall, it’s a nice spread with a lot of different choices, almost all of which tasted good. There’s what looks like a Tiramisu on the right there as well that I think we missed on the buffet.
Maria & Enzo’s brunch is currently served on Sundays beginning at 10:30am. You may need to visit OpenTable here to make a reservation that early as Disney’s system currently accepts reservations beginning at 11:30am, since that’s when the restaurant opens daily for lunch. You probably won’t need a reservation as they were immediately seating everyone as they arrived on Father’s Day in June, which you would think would be a busier time of year. If you’re planning on visiting for Easter, Mother’s Day, Christmas Eve, or something, then a reservation would be smart. OpenTable also won’t charge you for a last minute cancellation, unlike Disney’s system.
Overall, Maria & Enzo’s brunch was an incredibly pleasant time with bottomless mimosas and a very good buffet spread. The entrees weren’t stellar for the most part, but they did the job. If the main courses were above average then I’d say brunch here is pretty close to a “must do.” You may also have better luck with the steak and eggs or the frittata. Still, brunch is the best meal that Maria & Enzo’s serves, so I’d recommend trying to make a Sunday morning meal work if you’re interested in checking out the restaurant. As far as an all-you-can-drink, all-you-can-eat meal on Disney property goes, we thought $50 was more than fair. Service was friendly and efficient. Plates were quickly cleared and our glasses were almost always at least half full, despite the restaurant being busier than usual for that time of day.
You might remember that I was less than impressed with brunch at Homecomin last week in this review. Over there, two mimosas and an entree would set you back about $44, or almost as much as the fixed price meal at Maria & Enzo’s with the Endless Mimosas added.
Paddlefish also serves a reasonably economical brunch menu, the review for which you can find here.
But so far, Maria & Enzo’s is my favorite brunch spot at Disney Springs. It would certainly be a nice way to get a relaxing Sunday started.