Celebrate Carnevale at Maria & Enzo's

Written by Scott Joseph on .

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Carnevale

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).

Reservations are recommended. Go to Maria & Enzo’s website or call the restaurant at 407-560-8466.

And here’s something interesting. The origin of the word carnevale, and thus the English word carnival, is from two Latin words that mean “meat” and “remove.” So the Italians celebrate with this annual festival up to the beginning of Lent when they have to remove meat from their diet.

You don’t have to be observant to be a part of the celebration. Grab your mask and put on your favorite harlequin outfit and join in the fun.

Valentine's, Galentine's or Palentine's: It's a big, not-big dining day for restaurants

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Valentines Bacon Final

Valentine’s Day has to be one of the worst days of the year for restaurants. Yes, most of them will have their reservation books maxed out, the dining room fully committed, as they say. But unlike other big dining occasions, Mother’s Day or Christmas or New Year’s Eve, they won’t do as much business.

Think about it: Most of the tables will be two tops, couples out for a romantic meal. So tables that on other evenings might have more butts in seats, also as they say, will be half set.

One exception might be a recent movement for groups of women to go out together on Feb. 14 for a Galentine’s dinner. My understanding of the concept is that it’s supposed to ameliorate the disappointment of being without a significant other on a day dedicated to romance.

I wonder if any guys have thought about organizing a Palentine’s dinner? You know, a boys night out, maybe take in a buddy movie, have a few brewskys, then go have dinner at a nice restaurant with low lighting and soft music to see if there are any Galentine groups they can meet up with.

I’m not saying that restaurants don’t welcome the extra business. Especially when it falls on a weeknight, Valentine’s Day can still be a better than average day of business.

And there are plenty of restaurants going all out to attract yours, whether it's you and your boo or you and your bros. Or BFFs. Or whatever. Here's a sampling:

Cinco has closed

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Cinco exterior

Well, it is pronounced sinko.

Cinco Tacos + Tequila has closed. The restaurant, which took over the former Carmel Kitchen Wine Bar in Winter Park, had been open only seven months or so.

Back in July, in those first weeks, Cinco was so packed that valet parking was almost mandatory. Who wants to valet park at a taco joint? But the crowds didn't last

My review, published on Nov. 15, after the new had worn off, may offer a clue as to why its popularity waned. “Unfortunately, much of what I had on my dinner visit was unexciting and bland. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t good, like fill-the-parking-lot, wait-listed good.”

Cinco’s backers included former NSYNCer Chris Kirkpatrick and actor Mario Lopez. So, no, Cinco couldn’t be Saved By the Mario.

Wineries Announced for first Orlando Wine Festival and Auction

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Cos dEstournel logo

The organizers of the first Orlando Wine Festival and Auction, March 15 though 17, have announced the initial list of participating wineries, and it’s a stellar lineup.

The bulk of the 26 wineries are from Napa and Sonoma counties in California, but don’t look for any of the names you’d see on the wine shelves at your local supermarket. They include Accendo Cellars, Lail Vineyards, Peter Michael Winery and Rudd/Edge Hill. Bordeaux wineries Château Cos d’Estournel and Haut Medoc Selection will also be pouring. (See below for the complete list.)

They will take part in the vintner dinners on Friday of the festival, held in private homes, and at the event Saturday at the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes.

The Orlando Wine Festival and Auction is to be the Magic’s signature fundraiser for the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation. "The Orlando Magic are thrilled to announce these initial 26 exceptional wineries as the first commitments to participate in our Inaugural Orlando Wine Festival and Auction," said Magic CEO Alex Martins. "Most importantly, we are so excited to have them share in helping a very worthy cause, at-risk youth in Central Florida. We look forward to an amazing weekend of wine, food and charity.”

As previously announced, the list of chefs participating in the event includes: