Traditionally a joyous celebration of food, drink and other pleasures about to be given up for Lent, the Italian Carnevale dates back to the 12th century in Venice, Italy. At Disney Springs’ Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante, guests can experience a sample of the excitement in a masquerade-style atmosphere as musicians, dancers, costumed stilt walkers and other entertainers celebrate with guests, all while enjoying Italian fare.
Guests can expect to find an event-themed menu, with special items and cocktails served in a colorful and softly lit main dining area, decorated with party masks, balloons, banners and feathers indicative of the traditional celebration known stateside as Mardi Gras.
The selections are available a la carte, but if you’re all-in for the full experience, a five-course “Feast of Carnevale” dinner awaits. Warm up with amuse bouche, then sample from your helping of ciabatta, grissini and focaccia. After that, a small plate of pasta di carnevale comes in a parmesan sauce that any leftover bread would do well to soak up. Your first choice from a selection of antipasti is next. Finish that and the feast continues with your choice of one second item from the menu. A dessert of le bugie di carnevale rounds out the feast as a thin crust fried dough.
Specialty cocktails are appropriately highlighted front and center when guests open their menus. They come in playful names and colors like the Green Mistake — a Hendricks gin concoction, garnished with cucumber that arrives nearly lime green.
While imbibing those “Mistakes,” be prepared for the inevitable moonlightesque serenade. Musicians circulate the dining area while playing stringed instruments and singing a range of standards from “Que Sera Sera” to “That’s Amore.”
As the night goes on, guests are sure to be entertained by party mask -wearing stilt walkers, inflating and twisting balloons into animals and other designs. Dancers spin on the mezzanine before descending the stairs to find willing little ones to join them in a dance. Keep an eye out for the pair of jugglers tossing glowing bowling pins between each other at the front of the hall.
The spectacle, like the feast, is portioned appropriately and served in stages, never overwhelming, but always offering intrigue.
Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante Carnevale event runs nightly through March 5, from 5 to 10 p.m.