Enzo’s Hideaway: Pricey Pasta Eatery or Hidden Gem?
The last of a trio of recent Italian restaurant additions to Disney Springs to open, Enzo’s Hideaway Tunnel Bar is a bit of a misnomer – it’s not terribly “hidden” with the bright neon signage out front of the main entrance, nor is it just “a bar”. Located just below STK, directly across and downstairs from Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante and Pizza Ponte, Enzo’s Hideaway is a restaurant specializing in modern takes on Roman Italian classics in a higher-end atmosphere. Disney Dining Plan is not currently accepted for the 2018 plan, but Tables in Wonderland discount applies.
Atmosphere and Menu
As the story on the menu tells diners, Enzo (of Maria & Enzo’s fame) found this tunnel when the couple took over the abandoned airport next door (remember, Maria & Enzo’s is an airport terminal), which was previously used by rum runners. This story works hard to service the restaurant’s focus on both Italian food and a spirit & cocktail menu replete with aged rums, an unlikely (in this reviewer’s mind) pairing. Advertised as a bar, the location really does have a vast menu on the drink side, with wines by the bottle and glass, beers, spirits, specialty cocktails, family-style punches and sangria, and a dessert cocktails and digestivi. The restaurant does have a bar with limited seating, located in the main dining room, but fair warning: food service here is hit or miss for the first few weeks of operation, so if you plan to visit the bar, plan on drinks only.
I had fully expected a lounge-type atmosphere when I read the restaurant’s description many months ago, but this is not what Enzo’s delivers; instead, the tile and wood, brick and stone décor with minimal lighting from beautiful chandeliers above reads as an attempt at upscale hipster reclamation modern. You first enter the restaurant through a “hidden” door underneath the dome with flashing neon signs stating “Enzo’s Hideaway”, so, you know, not so hidden, but a fun concept, no less. The check-in area is small and strangely shaped, but hopefully you won’t spend much time in there before being led through the “tunnels” to the main dining area. Carved out of the tunnels, with requisite containers of rum left behind for theming, booths, tables and a nicely appointed bar and open kitchen area fill the rather dark and intimate main dining room. Practically speaking, it looks a lot like a slightly-better-appointed and brighter version of Epcot’s Tutto Gusto wine bar.
As for food, the menu features several snacky antipasti options perfect as appetizers or to combine for a full meal, as well as a handful each of pasta and meat entrees. Budget-conscious diners beware: entrée prices here are similar to that of Tutto Italia and even higher-end spots like Il Mulino. The closest comparison in the real world I can think of for Enzo’s would be Maggiano’s – similar in price and options presented, though, as I’ll discuss a bit later, portions at Enzo’s are on the smaller side. For my first meal at Enzo’s, I asked my server to recommend a few dishes he liked (which, sadly, was no help – he hadn’t tried most of them yet, but did his best to describe everything). So, I ended up sticking to traditional dishes, trying to see just how far from the norm Enzo’s was trying to push the boundaries of Italian cuisine.
To start, I ordered the $15 meatball appetizer, featuring two meatballs served on a bed of caponata. Although I did ask whether these meatballs were the same as what’s served across the bridge at Maria & Enzo’s, my server balked at the question and simply stressed they were made with beef, pork, and veal as well as a unique blend of spices. Upon tasting them, I’m fairly certain they’re the same meatballs (similar size, shape, flavor, texture… convincing enough to me), but the eggplant-zucchini-tomato packed caponata underneath was a nice way to elevate an otherwise simple dish. I’m not sure this is $15 worth of food, but then most of Maria & Enzo’s portions were also a bit small for the price, too, so this was no real surprise. The caponata would’ve been better served by a bread or toast accompaniment – overall, the dish didn’t make a ton of sense, as served, despite how flavorful the savory, juicy meatballs and tangy/sweet caponata were.
I decided against ordering the suppli alla romana (meat ragu inside of an Arborio rice cone, $15) after sampling the copycat meatballs, as I feared these would be exactly the same as the arancini from Maria & Enzo’s as well. Salads and a pasta fagioli comprise the bulk of the appetizer menu, but two seemingly-unique specialties emerged: the frutti di mare (seafood salad, $19), and carciofi (fried artichokes, $15). I sprung for the artichokes, intrigued to try a veggie appetizer option that wasn’t a salad. In short, I loved this appetizer. Perfectly crispy, not too greasy, sprinkled with a plentiful portion of grated parmesan, and served with lemons ripe for squeezing, I could’ve eaten the entire plateful had I not had an entrée on the way later. My only criticism here was that the cut on some of these was a bit large – a few too many large leaves left on the outside made these tough to eat as a finger food in one bite, but they would be perfectly alongside a cold beer or cocktail.
I only sampled one entrée at Enzo’s on this visit, though my server really did try hard to get me to order a second (did he think I was still hungry, or was this the standard push the restaurant wants to give so guests aren’t disappointed in pasta portions, I wondered…). As mentioned earlier, I was curious how the restaurant’s takes on Italian staples would hold up for the price, so I decided to give one of the most classic and well-known dishes on the menu a shot, the bucatini alla carbonara ($26). When it arrived, I was initially a bit disappointed in the portion size (about 15 bites of pasta, total; similar in size to the smaller pasta dishes served at Tutto Gusto), but it looked as carbonara should – creamy sauce and flecks of pancetta swimming around a bed of pasta.
The bucatini (think spaghetti with a tiny hole in the middle, a bit thicker and heavier but still long) was on the al dente side of al dente, which was fine for me but may be a bit too toothy for those used to a mushier cooked pasta. The pancetta was crispy, finely chopped enough to impart saltiness in nearly every bite, matched well with the abundance of black pepper in the sauce of the dish. The eggs and pecorino, unlike a traditional carbonara, however, had not completely emulsified together, so the resulting sauce was a little grainy and thick, rather than the luxurious creaminess I had expected.
Flavor-wise, the amount of nutty pecorino in the sauce was on point, not drowning the dish in too much salt or straight cheese flavor, but I think the kitchen could’ve stood a bit more practice to get the sauce execution down pat. At the end of the day, I was mildly satisfied with the plate of pasta. Portions were disappointing but the flavor made up for that, even in spite of the texture of the sauce. All of that being said, though, I’m not sure I’d say this was a fair meal for $26, especially considering all of the meal options at your disposal in Disney Springs for that same $26.
Alongside my first course, I tried one of the many specialty cocktails on offer, and the one that came highly recommended by both my server and a manager very kindly wandering the floor during my meal, the Luciano Spritz, featuring Solerno blood orange liqueur, Aperol, blood orange juice, and topped with Villa Sandi Prosecco. At $14, this is a pricy spritz, but it was well-balanced, not too bitter from the Aperol, and light enough to still enjoy alongside food. Again, though, I’d expect to pay $9-10 for a spritz, even with “tourist tax” at Walt Disney World, so it’s a bit too light to be priced the same as every other specialty cocktail on Enzo’s menu.
A better value for the money would be the Hanky Panky, a traditional cocktail featuring gin, vermouth, and Fernet Branca, a bitter amaro liqueur Italians and hipsters alike are drooling over, of late. This take features quality Plymouth Gin, Antica Formula vermouth, and the herby fernet married in a martini glass, garnished with orange peel. Very Manhattan-esque, the earthy and sweet gin and almost cloyingly sweet vermouth are toned down just slightly by the fernet, making this a perfect sipper to enjoy at the bar, or even alongside (or instead of) dessert.
I also had a chance to sample what is soon to be, in my estimation, a favorite of many guests, the Rye, Rye Rickey. Woodford Reserve rye whiskey, fresh lime, pomegranate, and sparkling water combine for a light and fresh new take on a whiskey soda or 7 & 7. It requires a bit of tableside mixing to ensure all the flavors of the sunken pomegranate mix with the soda water, but when mixed, it’s dangerously drinkable and fruity without being overly sweet. I’d also say this drink wouldn’t be worth $14 to me at most bars, but it’s the most accessible of the drinks I sampled, and perfectly paired with food.
Rather than sampling the highly recommended cannoli (made of sheep’s milk ricotta, $9) that, once again, I was sure was pretty similar to the one I’d sampled at Pizza Ponte and is on offer at Maria & Enzo’s, I focused my attention on the dessert menu’s coppe gelati sundae section. Advertised as big enough to serve two, each sundae runs about $14 and features a different main flavor of gelato with several toppings. I ultimately settled on the cannoli sundae, with crema gelato, cannoli cookie, orange candy, pistachio, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream.
It’s certainly a looker in terms of presentation – visually, anyone would see this, call it a sundae, and then immediately want to order it. But does it taste like a cannoli? If you close your eyes, you could maybe believe you’re eating a cannoli, sure. Tons of broken up cannoli shell (surely leftovers of what broke when trying to fill the real things – a smart way to recycle!) dot the top of this absolutely enormous dessert, certainly large enough to feed 2 after a moderately sized meal.
The crema gelato was ambiguously flavored but unambiguously sweet – it’s the simplest flavor of gelato, essentially a blank palette of milk, eggs, and sugar – so the toppings of the sundae were really the basis for the flavors here. I didn’t spot a ton of pistachio running around, but the candied orange was perfectly sweet and tangy, and the chocolate sauce was dark and almost fudgy. The real whipped cream (no artificial vanilla flavor, not overwhipped so as to be nearly butter) was the perfect finisher for the dish, one I definitely wanted to finish but alas, could not alone.
Is Enzo’s Hideaway Worth The Visit?
In short, this is a tough one. I’m going to hazard a guess that Enzo’s Hideaway, more than Maria & Enzo’s and Pizza Ponte, is a work in progress. I expect changes here within the next few months. Prices are a tad too high, even by Disney standards, for most everything on the menu, food and drinks, both, especially with portion sizes taken into consideration. That being said, though, I enjoyed my meal at Enzo’s Hideaway, and of the three new Italian restaurants, is the one I’m most likely to visit again (after saving up a bit of money… it’s not a cheap meal, to be sure). The flavors of all of the dishes really hit the spot, and that is as good of a starting point as I can ask for out of a new restaurant. I hope future developments bring prices down or portions up, and time gives the kitchen a bit more practice executing these classic dishes to perfection.
2 thoughts on “Enzo’s Hideaway: Pricey Pasta Eatery or Hidden Gem?”
Thanks Tessa…great job as always! I am glad you got the assignment vs. others on this site. I think the Hanky Panky is more of an herbal Negroni vs. a Manhatten…substituting the Fernet for Campari. A very nice cocktail nonetheless.
Thanks for the update, Kendra!