New Orleans has Mardi Gras but Venice has Carnevale. And so does Maria & Enzo’s.
From February 22 through March 5 (that’s Fat Tuesday), our friends at the beautiful Disney Springs restaurant will be hosting nightly celebrations in the tradition of the Carnival of Venice. There will be costumes, singers, stilt walkers, jugglers, mimes, face painting and folk dancers.
And, of course, the terrific Italian food that the restaurant is known for. In addition to the regular menu, Maria & Enzo’s is offering a special Feast of Carnevale that includes an amuse bouche; ciabatta, grissini (those tasty breadsticks) and focaccia; chef’s selection of pasta, served family style; antipasti; secondi; and dessert. All for $45 per person, which is a great deal for this quality of food (even without the entertainment).
City Pub is the new restaurant and bar that replaced North Quarter Tavern. The bones of the place are the same, with the central bar and surrounding dining tables. But some decorating touches have been added — royal blue paint, wood wainscoting over a tufted banquette along the back wall — that give it a traditional pub mien.
And the food is still above average, though not as creative as when NQT first opened. But then, in retrospect, that menu was probably too ambitious (and costly).
Yet there’s something about City Pub that just doesn’t seem to congeal. It lacks focus, and the staff don’t seem to have guidance to help them in finding the center. On both of my visits, I felt like everyone there would rather be somewhere else.
I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to tell you about De La Vega — I visited it some time ago. I had a pleasant enough experience, and I was actually anxious to have a non-chain, non-quick-serve restaurant to recommend to Oviedoans (Oviedoers? Oviedites?). People who live in the Oviedo/Winter Springs area.
But for some reason after I visited, my review got delayed and pushed aside. So let me correct that now.
De La Vega is in a development called Oviedo on the Park that features a well-tailored green space surrounding a lake. The evening I visited there was a festival of some sort in the park with music and food and lots of happy people drinking beer.
There were happy people inside the restaurant, too. The presumed De La Vegas of the restaurant’s name are Mano, the general manager and “rum & tequila catador,” and Nora De La Vega, the chef.
The Hangry Bison in Winter Park Village is known for its burgers — it recently won the Best Burger Foodster Award for Independent Restaurants.
But it has great cocktails, too, and its signature drink, The smoked Bison, is a real show stopper. The Bison’s Fernando Prince shows you how they make it in this episode of On the House. And if you don’t have a big glass dome for the smoky reveal like they do at Hangry, he’ll show you how to get some of the same smoky effect at home.