Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante – Easter Brunch
As part of my commitment to bring y’all the most timely information possible, I’m thrilled to be presenting this three and a half month old review. I swear, I’m trying to do better…
Okay, so this year was our first Easter in Orlando. Because of work obligations, we were completely unable to leave town to be with family. We actually both had to log into work in the early afternoon, so we were rather limited in what we’d have time to do. We were looking at Easter brunch options, and there were some good options, but nothing was really jumping out and slapping us in the face.
I was beyond thrilled to get an email with information about the Easter brunch being offered at Maria & Enzo’s at Disney Springs (I assume I got on their mailing list because we attended a beer pairing event at Morimoto a while back). Nobody tell them that the email said “Fresh Toast” instead of “French Toast.”
Sounded like it’d be pretty fun (though at $35 a head plus an extra $15 for unlimited mimosas, a bit pricier than I would have probably liked), so I called to make reservations for as early as possible. That proved to be rather tricky, however, as the earliest they could do was 11. I figured we could make that work, as long as we were out of Disney Springs no later than 1:30.
But then I got a callback a few days before Easter – turns out they were opening at 10am, not 11, so they were trying to see if people with early 11 o’clock slots would be interested in coming in earlier to fill the 10 o’clock slots.
Perfect! And they even sweetened the deal by tossing in free bottomless mimosas! We had already decided we were going to go the bottomless route (the cost of one mimosa is like $12, while the bottomless option was $15. That’s just solid fiscal responsibility right there). For the record, they offered that right out the gate – I didn’t gripe or complain about changing our reservation time. That ain’t me.
Maria & Enzo’s is one piece of a multi-part complex that includes several different eatery and drinkery locations. They’re all owned by the Patina Group (who also own Morimoto’s place as well as the Italian restaurant in Epcot).
Obligatory Disney Backstory of Maria & Enzos: So back in the day there was an airport here, and Maria and Enzo had a bakery there. The airport closed and Maria and Enzo took over the terminal building for their restaurant. They use other areas for their pizza restaurant (Pizza Pointe) as well as Enzo’s little prohibition-era speakeasy (Enzo’s Hideaway). I believe the Edison is part of the overall plot as well, but I don’t know the specifics. Sorry, haven’t been there yet!
So you enter on the second level, overlooking this fantastic dining room.
That travel mural around the ceiling is spectacular, as is the “hey, did they steal that from Universal Studios Hollywood?” globe.
The overall atmosphere of the entire restaurant is fantastic. The walls are adorned with travel posters to various destinations. I probably could have taken some pictures of that, but c’mon, there was a buffet and bottomless mimosas. Just be glad this shit’s in focus.
This is kind of the “warm up” side of the buffet. It’s dangerous, though – an amateur could easily overload on bread products and miss out on a lot of the good stuff further down. Parents, it’s never too early to talk to your kids about buffet control. Also, talk to them about chewing with their mouth shut. Aw hell, y’know what – while we’re blue skying how about you tell them to shut up when they’re in the movie theatres too.
There’s plenty of staff on hand to help you plate your food. This is nice and all, but to be perfectly honest I feel a little shamed having little skinny-ass European dudes piling food on a plate for my fat-ass. This never happens at the Golden Corral.
Here’s round one. Some cheese, some meat (looks like some prosciutto, some salame, and maybe that’s some mortadella there) and a slice of perfectly pleasant pizza. Now, this is “appetizer” pizza, so don’t go nuts on it. It’s tasty, but if you’re just looking for pizza I can recommend plenty of other places to go. The meat and the cheese was all delicious, as was the bready thing on the right side of the plate. Yes, I’m fairly certain that proper name for that is “bready thing.” Sorry, you want better words, send a poet next time.
Across the table, Karen went down a similar path but she opted for the french toast with a fantastic warm berry topping with the slightest bit of granola. Our first trip to the buffet definitely wielded some good stuff. Everything we had at this point was fantastic.
Not content with sharing, I had to get my own piece of that fantastic french toast (already ignoring the “don’t get too much bread” rule). I also picked up some Fennel and Orange Salad and Pasta Verdue Salad. Not surprisingly, these were all delicious. But that brings us to rule #2 when dealing with a buffet: “Don’t eat too much salad!”
Karen followed my lead on those salads, but she also delved into the Classic Lasagna. It was a bit of a sloppy serve, so it’s hard to tell what kind of layering there was. In any case, it was quite good.
I’ve not mentioned the bottomless mimosas – let the record show that they were delicious. I’m sure there are people who would find a reason to complain that the alcohol to OJ content was unacceptably low, but those people really need to get to a meeting. We drank enough to make our journey back up the staircase an interesting challenge. There’s plenty enough liquor in them there drinks.
Meanwhile, it looks like I’m getting desperate. When you make your third trip to a buffet, you feel the eyes on you. So you get rash and try to get as much on your plate as possible (without looking like you’re piling it up). On this go-round, looks like I scored some of that Classic Lasagna, a bit of the Braised Chicken Breast, some Braised Meatballs with Polenta, some Forest Mushroom Pasta, some Italian Breakfast Sausage, and whatever the hell that is in the upper left corner. Can’t say enough good things about the meatballs, but don’t take that to mean that anything on this plate was anything less the fantastic. Even whatever the hell that thing in the upper left corner is.
Karen kept her servings all ladylike, opting just for the chicken, the Forest Mushroom Pasta, and whatever’s going on on the right side of the plate (seriously, neither one of us know what it is, but it was really quite tasty.
You reach a point when you get to the fourth plate where you have to really start making hard choices. I mean, this guy is probably making fantastic omelettes but I kind of get anxious when ordering stuff like this. I’m the guy who orders my Pubsub and picks the cheese and meat that’s already cut (unless Boars Head is on sale. I’m not a total idiot). I hate inconveniencing people, and as a result I just couldn’t really do the whole omelette thing.
Especially once I realized there was SHRIMP. The shrimp was set up on the other side of the room, so I almost completely missed it. Ultimately that was a good thing, because as a result it made me break rule #3 of the buffet: “Eat all the shrimp before anyone else can.” If I had known the shrimp was there, I surely would have filled up on that before sampling anything else. But with this being my fourth plate, I was barely able to scarf down the few pictured here. They were great, incidentally. Shockingly large in size and cooked to perfection. Some would argue about the choice of leaving the shells on, but in my mind that just illustrates the difference between casual fans and dedicated skrimp eaters. At least the poop chute has been removed…
I’m over here talking about poop chutes while Karen’s staying classy and having a piece of the Chef Carved Rosemary NY Strip Steak. As she put it, “that steak was maybe a little bit too rare for a reformed vegetarian.” Honestly, it may have been a bit too rare for me as well. But the flavor was solid, as was the flavor coming from those roasted potatoes.
Alright – final round! Time for the dessert station and the chocolate fountain! They had many options of things to stick under the fountain. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any shrimp left so I had to stick with the stuff at the station. (insert one last poop chute gag here)
Honestly, at this point in the proceedings we were just embarrassingly stuffed. We ate what we could because we felt like it was an obligation. Of course it was all good, but it still felt like a chore to get through it all. Rule #4 of a buffet – “you gotta know your limitations.” We had already passed the line in the sand, and yet we persisted.
I have literally no complaints whatsoever about this brunch – everything we had was delicious and the staff was first rate. I would recommend this brunch to anyone, but I have to do so with a bit of a disclaimer – apparently they pulled out all the stops for the Easter brunch. It was the first time they offered a brunch, so maybe they got a little overzealous with it. It is my understanding that the offerings and style have changed somewhat since our visit. First off, not all the items we had on the buffet are still offered. The reviews I’ve seen have indicated that a decent chunk of the pasta selections are not available on the buffet. Which sadly would include the meatballs, which sucks out loud because the meatballs and polenta were the bomb.
What they’re doing now is offering a prix frix “starters” buffet that includes the meat and cheese, the pizza station, pastries, an anitpasti station, and some yogurts and fruit. It is my understanding that the shrimp is there as well, though it isn’t listed on the official menu.
So you get to hit that starter buffet as much as you want, but then you also get a prix fixe entree. There are five entrees offered: french toast, steak and eggs, spaghetti alla Carbonara, Vegetable Frittata, and a Poached Hen Egg and Quinoa-Kale Salad. I can only vouch for the French Toast, which was indeed a delight.
In addition to the starter buffet and entree, the chocolate fountain and dessert station is still there.
Now, let’s be honest. They reduced the options but they didn’t reduce the price. Even with the reduced selection, I think you’re still looking at a pretty sweet deal. The bottomless mimosas or bellinis are still $15, which is still a great price. Are there better brunch deals in Orlando? Of course there are. Is there a better brunch deal with quality this good on Disney property? Good luck with that.
Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante is located in Disney Springs, right next to the damn-near-impossible-to-miss Characters in Flight balloon. Brunch is served on Sundays only, and priority seatings can be made starting at 10:30am via their website or the MyDisneyExperience app. Also, poop chutes.