Via Napoli in Epcot Review
Delicious Food with a Bonus: An Appetizing Wait Staff!
Via Napoli is another one of my family’s favorites. Our first visit was shortly after it opened, and we have been loyal diners on every vacation since—sometimes twice on the same trip! I feel that it is a great value for the quality of food that you receive (along with the experience), especially compared with other World Showcase dining options.
Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria is owned by the Patina Restaurant Group, and won the Orlando Sentinel’s “Best Theme Park Restaurant” Critics Choice Award. The exterior architecture is based on Florence, Italy, and the airy interior with an open kitchen and prep area provides its own entertainment. Whether watching the chefs using the three wood-fired ovens or the wait staff serving fellow diners, you are in for a treat. I think Disney must survey many Italian applicants to come up with the best looking staff for this restaurant. Everyone working there is the definition of classic beauty—especially the male portion of the wait staff. Or maybe everyone in Italy is that good looking, if so I need to schedule a trip.
Back to the food, the real reason we come here, right? Via Napoli presents a menu of Southern Italian favorites with pizza as its centerpiece. They go to great lengths to serve an authentic Neapolitan pizza with several topping options, from the traditional Margherita to melon and prosciutto, or more “American” favorites like pepperoni or Quattro Formaggi. Each pizza is made with fresh mozzarella cheese and San Marzano tomatoes for the sauce. The Caputo flour for the thin crust is imported from Southern Italy. Even the water used comes from a spring that shares characteristics with Italy’s Campania region. That’s Imagineering type attention to detail paid to pizza! Then the pizzas are baked in the three wood-fired ovens named for the three active volcanoes in Italy: Mount Vesuvius, Stromboli, and Mount Etna. Nick Valenti, the restaurateur, spent time in Italy studying the art of pizza making at the famous pizzerias, Da Michele and Trianon, learning to make the dough, sauce, and even the perfect oven temperatures to get every detail just right.
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Via Napoli also offers other entrées with a Southern Italian flair like lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs, and various parmigiana dishes including veal, eggplant and chicken. The menu is rounded out by a nice selection of appetizers, soups, and salads along with Italian desserts like gelato and tiramisu.
Our ordering strategy is pretty standard each trip. I always start out with a Strawberry Acqua Fresca ($6 plus tax). It is nice and refreshing after walking all the way around the World Showcase to arrive in Italy. On this trip we added a new item to our meal, the Arancini appetizer ($11 plus tax). These fried risotto balls are filled with mozzarella and a meat ragu. They are served with a tomato sauce. Three balls were included in the serving size, and I found that to be plenty for two people to share because they are fairly rich (and you have to save room for pizza). The Arancini were well prepared, crispy on the outside and the perfect gooey texture on the inside. The flavors were mild and worked well together.
I suppose when we find something we enjoy we stick with it. Every time we enjoy Via Napoli we order the same thing, the Mezzo Metro pizza. With this gigantic ½ meter pizza you can order the toppings on just half of the pizza. We go with half Margherita and half pepperoni ($41 plus tax). We have four people in our family sharing this pizza, including a teenager who can really put some food away! Plus it is pretty fun to have such a large pizza served to your table! Although $41 sounds like a lot for a pizza when you compare it to Dominos 2 for $5.99 each, it really is a good value for the quality of the food, especially in Disney Dollars.
The pizza is very well crafted. The crust is perfect, thin and crispy, but with just the right amount of chewiness for a pizza. The sauce is mild; a fresh tomato flavor with a bit of herbs. The cheese is my favorite part. The “string” factor is right on when you bite into a slice. It has a rich and creamy texture, and the flavor is well balanced with the rest of the pizza. Yum! My mouth is watering‼
At this point we are too full to even attempt dessert, so I must confess that I’ve not sampled the dessert menu (yet).
Via Napoli accepts the Disney Dining Plan, but it is a little strict (or confusing) on its usage. Please check with your server before ordering. From what I understand you can order any of the individual specialty pizzas as an entrée, or one of the other individual entrees, along with the desserts. If you create a build-your-own pizza your dining plan covers a basic cost, but additional toppings may be charged a la carte. You cannot order the large or Mezzo Metro pizza with the Dining Plan. Several of the menu items are labeled “for two” and would require two people to use their dining credits in order to get that item. The specialty drinks like my favorite Acqua Fresca are not included on the dining plan. Via Napoli also accepts the Tables in Wonderland card, which is a simpler way to save on your meal (if you are eligible to purchase the card).
I highly recommend Via Napoli. It is generally a place in World Showcase that all family members can agree on, offering pizza and spaghetti will appeal to even the pickiest kids (or adults). The food is well prepared with high quality ingredients, and as I’ve said it is a good value for your Disney Dining Dollar. Not to mention the attractive servers.
Food: Delicious! A great value using high quality ingredients with great attention to detail to make it as authentic of an Italian Dining Experience as you can have in Central Florida. I think the Critic’s Choice award from the Orlando Sentinel supports my families feeling that this is a must-do dining destination on every trip.
Atmosphere: There is plenty to look at in this restaurant—from the bustling open kitchen with the three wood-fired ovens to the attractive wait staff (have I mentioned them yet?). The high ceiling gives an open air feeling to the restaurant and the interior painting feels like you are in an old structure in the heart of Southern Italy. It can be a little loud, but it has never bothered me.
Service: Have I mentioned the attractive servers? While they make it a pleasure, the service overall is efficient and friendly. You can usually get in and out of Via Napoli fairly quickly without feeling rushed.
Tips: Make a reservation. I have been able to get reservations here a few days in advance and even on the day of, but you don’t want to miss out if you are traveling during a busy travel period or want to eat at a peak time of day. If you are paying out of pocket it doesn’t matter if you go for lunch or dinner, they have the same menu with the same prices. Order an Acqua Fresca on a hot day in the parks. Try the pizza on at least one visit—it is worth it. Don’t be shy—get up from your table and go check out the ovens close up.