Disney Springs has firmly established itself as a one of Central Florida’s premier destinations for shopping and dining, and things are about to get even better with the opening of four new locations in The Landing.
Everything at Disney Springs has a story, but these new additions take things even further with a tightly woven narrative that integrates the different venues into a cohesive story that goes something like this:
Back in the day, Disney Springs was home to to an Air Terminal, with guests flying in from around the world and landing on the Buena Vista Lake. The beautiful art-deco air terminal welcomed the travelers, and was hugely popular through the 30’s. But as more modern airliners became the normal, the Disney Springs Air Terminal fell on hard times and closed its doors to air travel.
One of the air terminal’s former food and beverage vendors, Maria and Enzo, who had previously operated a bakery in the lobby, purchased the air terminal and quickly got to work on transforming the space into a restaurant – Pizza Ponte. The immigrants from Italy served Sicilian-style pizza by the slice, along with sandwiches and Italian pastries.
Quickly reaching success with Pizza Ponte, Maria and Enzo took the opportunity to realize their real American dream, and opened their own full service restaurant – Maria & Enzo’s, in the former air terminal departure lounge adjacent to Pizza Ponte.
Unknown to Maria and Enzo when they purchased the terminal was that beneath the complex of buildings was a series of tunnels, which turned out to be a secret bootlegger’s hideout. The speakeasy was a center of social life during the prohibition years, and became home to many of the air terminal workers throughout the area. When the tunnels were discovered by Enzo, he created Enzo’s Hideaway, a hidden lounge underneath Disney Springs.
Finally, The Edison can be found in what was the former power plant for Disney Springs, adjacent to the air terminal. With the closure of the 1920’s era power plant, it was converted into an “Industrial Gothic”– style restaurant, bar and nighttime destination. The Edison is famous for exceptionally good classic American food, craft cocktails and live entertainment including cabaret and music.
Now you know the story, let’s move on to the actual venues themselves and what you can expect.
Maria & Enzo’s
As the centerpiece of Maria & Enzo’s business, the restaurant celebrates the golden age of travel. It returns to a time when air travel was an occasion, and that is reflected in the ambiance and service. The restaurant is described as casually elegant, so while you can visit after a day at the theme parks, you could equally visit for a special occasion.
The dining room is open and airy, featuring 50-foot ceilings with views of Lake Buena Vista. The restaurant interiors showcase artifacts that reference air travel of the time, with maps and historic flight paths.
A full wrap around mural depicts destinations once served by the air terminal, and is geographically correct – so when you look towards New York on the mural, you really are looking towards New York.
Seating is a mix of booths and tables, while the majority of the dining area is on the lower level, there are balconies above that will have additional seating and high-tops.
Off from the main departure lounge dining room is the first class lounge, which offers an even higher level of service. In this more intimate room, guests will be served a complimentary alcoholic drink, and kids will receive flight wings.
The first class lounge serves as event space, but when not in use will be used during regular dining. Seating can be requested in the first class lounge, and we heard that just like in a real airport, some lucky guests may be treated to a first class upgrade!
The menu is being crafted by Michelin star Chef Theo Schoenegger, one of the most influential Italian chefs in New York history, where his cooking at San Domenico and Palio set the standard for authentic Italian fine dining.
Dishes on the menu are inspired by Sicily, with a range of family-friendly options – Arancini di Carne (rice balls stuffed with meat), Melanzane Parmigiana (eggplant Parmesan) – and handmade pastas –Busiate con Granchio (spiral pasta with crab), ‘Ncasciata al Forno (Sicilian baked pasta) – served tableside. Other highlights include fresh fish, richly flavored steaks and chops.
There isn’t a bar area inside Maria & Enzo’s, but its close proximity to the other areas of air terminal mean getting a drink while waiting for dinner will not be a problem.
View more pictures from Maria & Enzo’s.
This is one of those spaces that we think guests are really going to love.
The entry to the hideaway is small, unobtrusive, and almost feels like you are going somewhere where you shouldn’t. Passing through the entry rotunda, you find yourself in a dark, windowless tunnel. Heading further inside, the area begins to open up, and is a surprisingly large space. Bigger than the Hangar Bar – and that’s a good thing, because this is going to be a popular venue.
The walls are covered in graffiti, which tell the stories of the past.
Enzo’s Hideaway will serve Prohibition-era cocktails at its Tunnel Bar and serve a casual menu of Roman dishes, such as the city’s legendary Bucatini alla Carbonara (hollow spaghetti with creamy egg and pancetta sauce) and Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe (square-cut spaghetti with pecorino and black pepper).
There will be a weekly Sunday supper, serving meats and cheese, all imported from Italy. You can even bring your own bottle of wine, and there is no cork fee. Taking place monthly, will be the Smugglers Series, which will be a ticketed event offering some unique food and drink.
Enzo’s Hideaway, will be the place in Disney Springs for rum, and there will be a large emphasis on Prohibition era speakeasy cocktails.
View more pictures from Enzo’s Hideaway.
Not quite ready for the hard-hat tour, Pizza Ponte is the quick service concept serving pastries, pizza, Italian sandwiches, and espresso. Pastry specialties include Bomboloni (Italian doughnuts) Sfoglia di Riso (pastry with rice cream) and Tiramisu. Savory items include signature Triangolo (stuffed pizza bread) sandwiches, Porchetta (roast pork) and Pizza al Taglio, Sicilian-style pizza by the slice.
Described as a lavish industrial Gothic-style restaurant, The Edison oozes character and style.
For those of you who have wanted to hang-out in the boiler room of the Hollywood Tower of Terror, this may be the closest thing yet.
Everything inside is real, we aren’t looking at manufactured props. The creators of the restaurant scoured collections and estate sales to complete the interior, and the depth of authenticity shows.
At the entrance to the restaurant is an enormous functional mechanical clock, and beneath are the Birchfield Boilers which once provided the power.
Projection and video displays on the walls showing period imagery add to the style.
The Edison has three bars, two on the lower level – The Boiler Bar and Breaker Bar, and a third on the upper level cat walk.
Each bar has its own speciality drinks, and guests will be encouraged to move around the venue sampling the different bars.
The Edison’s beverage program places a huge focus on artfully crafted cocktails, interesting beer and wines and house-made punches, made to serve from two to 10 guests.
A central performance area will offer live entertainment seven days a week, including aerial acts, musicians and DJs. During they daytime, the performance area will be used as restaurant seating.
The menu is executed by Chef PJ Finneran, and consists of contemporary American fare such as Pork Belly Pops with a chile-brown sugar glaze, Crispy Fried Chicken with cast iron buttermilk biscuits and its signature The Edison Burger, a juicy combination of house-ground sirloin, shortrib and brisket, topped with Cabot cloth-bound cheddar, onion rings, smoked bacon, house pickles, lettuce, tomato, special sauce and served with hand-cut fries.
A late night “Bartenders Breakfast” menu will serve breakfast dishes, such as Eggs Benedict.
A really neat feature that adds to the secret underground feeling of The Edison is a secret passage that links it to Enzo’s Hideaway. You can pass through all four venues areas without leaving the buildings. The tunnels that make up the areas were once used by Disney for storage and performance preparation areas for the former Pleasure Island. The setup makes the venues ideal for a progressive dining night out.
The Edison is expected to be open 11:30am-1am (Sunday-Wednesday) and 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m. (Thursday-Saturday). The Edison will be 21 years and older nightly starting at 9 p.m, and there will be a cover charge for the late evening, although pricing is yet to be determined.
View more pictures from The Edison.
We only got a sneak peek at the restaurants with this tour, and there is still much more to come as the finishing touches are being added. We’ll be back to bring you more from each as they are completed. But what is clear is that these are some very strong additions to Disney Springs, and we expect them to quickly become guest favorites.
The Edison will host a Grand Opening Gala on December 31 2017, with dates still to be announced for the other venues. All are expected to be fully open in very early 2018.
Article Posted: Dec 13, 2017 / 5:54pm EDT